‘The Normal Heart’ returns for World AIDS Day
by Donalevan Maines
“I have always looked at The Normal Heart as a play about a war!” director Joe Watts says of the drama that Theatre New West presents as a staged reading on World AIDS Day (Wednesday, December 1) to benefit the Houston GLBT Community Center.
Activist extraordinaire Larry Kramer wrote The Normal Heart as a call to arms 25 years ago—an impassioned plea for leaders, bureaucrats, doctors, and others to do something about the AIDS crisis that was devastating primarily gay men between 1981 and 1984.
“He had the passion and courage to stand up to politicians and the bureaucracy and say, ‘Do something now! We are dying on the front lines, and we need funding now to treat the dying and to find a cure for this plague that is doing the killing,’” says Watts.
“It’s a snapshot,” adds actor Steve Bullitt, who reprises the leading role of Ned Weeks that he performed here in 2006. “It takes you back in time.”
Newsweek’s review of The Normal Heart said of the original New York production, “It is bracing and exciting to hear so much passion and intelligence. Kramer produces a crossfire of life-and-death energies that create a fierce and moving human drama.” In the New York Daily News, Liz Smith called it “an astounding drama . . . a damning indictment of a nation in the middle of an epidemic with its head in the sand.” She added, “It will make your hair stand on end even as the tears spurt from your eyes.”
Watts feels that listening to the play being read by actors will prove even more powerful than seeing it performed.
Among the cast will be others returning from the 2006 production, including Sage Holli Bara, Wes Copeland, Brett Cullum, Ryan Thomas Heitzman, and Lance Marshall.
Stages Repertory Theatre is hosting the reading free of charge, and everyone involved is donating their time and talents to help raise funds for the GLBT Community Center, said Tim Brookover, board president.
What: Staged reading of The Normal Heart
When: December 1, World AIDS Day
Where: Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway, just off Waugh Drive and D’Amico Street.
Curtain: 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $30 (tax deductible)
Reservations: 713/522-2204. (This is a Theatre New West production staged as a benefit for Houston GLBT Community Center, presented at Stages Repertory Theatre. Please do not call the Stages box office.
Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.