We’re getting really excited for next month’s reading of Larry Kramer’s famous AIDS play, “The Normal Heart.” Dan Butler directs this searing, angry, beautiful play set in the first few years of the epidemic, and proceeds from the night benefit Vermont CARES and our colleagues at the HIV/Hepatitis Resource Center.
One of our great volunteers, Todd Miller, read and review “The Normal Heart” for us. We’ve excerpted his review below: enjoy, and feel free to comment! (We hope to see you in Randolph on December 1st too!)
“An Uncommon Point Of View”: Taking A Look At The Play, “The Normal Heart” by Larry Kramer
“The Normal Heart”, by Larry Kramer, was written in 1985, as a play of concern about the origins of AIDS in New York City. I found it to be as fast moving, as it is readable. This play, “The Normal Heart” is being put on for World’s AIDS Day, December 1, 2011, in Randolph. Vermont CARES feels it will be of meaning and value to take a look at the play, with this review, as the uncommon view about the past, present and future of AIDS in America.
When AIDS first hit New York City, back in the early 1980’s, very few cared one way or the other. There were about a million LGBTQ people in New York City, and the threat of AIDS was real the world over. The numbers were small and unexplained at first. And since AIDS was already an epidemic, because it was real threat, spanning the globe, it was also unexplained as a social disease, by and large.
The play is fine-tuned to clearly show the cast of characters of the play: young, successful, white, gay men living with AIDS. They also realize that AIDS is already an insidious epidemic, with a growth potential to match. The entire cast of characters of the play (which only includes one woman, the doctor of the AIDS clinic) specifically care about the political cause, for the need of medical concern and the prevention of AIDS. The fact that they have AIDS is important to these men, but the fact that they really having a bleeding heart for the lives of all people, given the threat of AIDS the world over, is of far more importance.
So this is not only a suitable play to go see, and really take home with you, on December 1, 2011, World AIDS Day, it really portends to be the uncommon point of view about the hard line about AIDS in the here and now:
“. . . I spent fifteen years of my life fighting for our right to be free and make love whenever, wherever . . . And you’re telling me that all those years of what being gay stood for it wrong . . . and I’m a murderer. We have been so oppressed! Don’t you remember how it was? Can’t you see how important it is for us to love openly, without hiding and without guilt?” (p.103)
“The Normal Heart” is about the insurgence of AIDS as it started to affect the people of the world, not only the gay population of New York City in the 1980’s. Pregnant women, women of Africa, peoples of all color the world over had AIDS then, as they do now.
Nobody knows why powers that be didn’t intervene to stop or slow the spread of the virus, as they do today. It is hard to know why AIDS was not an immediate and nationwide concern at the time of this play: therefore, as a theme, it is a very good question for the work to ponder over. “The Normal Heart”, as a play, is the need for the uncommon point of view. The play is also to resonate as the legitimate, uncommon point of view, over the real scare of AIDS today, in hope of someday finding a cure for this epidemic at long last.