Campus Life

Searing drama examines indifference to HIV crisis in early 1980s

How far does someone need to be pushed to make a change?

The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer takes on this challenging topic, and many others. A searing drama around the public and private indifference to the AIDS epidemic in New York City in the early 1980s and one man’s impassioned fight to inspire meaningful change, The Normal Heart plays on the University Theatre stage Oct. 15-19 at 8 p.m. nightly.

From left, actors Mike Rolfe, Cameron Lomon, Jay Whitehead and Colin Dingwall perform a scene from The Normal Heart.

“Larry Kramer, an important gay activist who led the fight to bring attention to the AIDS epidemic in the gay community, wrote this play in 1985,” says Roger Schultz, director. “The work is largely an autobiographical, thinly-veiled account of that movement.”

Hailed by the Royal National Theatre as one of the 100 greatest plays of the 20th century, The Normal Heart tells the story of writer and gay activist, Ned Weeks, who forms an organization to raise awareness and take on an apathetic government and indifferent society as an unknown disease kills hundreds of gay men in New York City.

“The topics of the play are much bigger than just the HIV crisis,” adds Schultz. “It takes on the indifference and apathy in society in general. It asks, what does it take for someone on the street to be impassioned enough to stand up for a cause and make meaningful change?”

Challenging and relentless, the topics explored in The Normal Heart still resonate today.

“I’ve never worked on a piece of theatre so politically charged like this before. The Normal Heart is so full of heart and passion, and its impact is great because it is also true. Although it was a fascinating time in history, the fight still carries on today,” says Schultz.

Tickets for The Normal Heart, priced at $18 regular, $13 senior/alumni, $12 students, are available at the U of L Box Office (open Monday through Friday, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., or by calling 403-329-2616). Join the cast and crew for a talkback following the Oct. 17 performance. This performance features mature content.