A story of AIDs for a new generation
For younger audiences, 'The Normal Heart' -- which recently won three Tony Awards -- is not just a tragedy, but a history lesson.
From Studio 360 -- use audio player above to listen to full story.
Six years before Tony Kushner grabbed the nation's attention with his Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Angels in America," Larry Kramer staged "The Normal Heart," about the AIDS epidemic and its devastating impact on the gay community. Of the two plays, "The Normal Heart" is more immediate and raw, and maybe angrier. It premiered at New York City's Public Theater, Off Broadway, in 1985, and finally received its Broadway premiere this year, winning three Tony Awards.
Kramer’s career as a playwright took a back seat to his life as an activist; he cofounded Gay Men's Health Crisis and the more radical group ACT UP.
The action in "The Normal Heart" centers on the character of a newspaper writer named Ned Weeks -- a stand-in for Kramer -- and his struggle to respond to the nascent epidemic. But for younger audiences, the AIDS crisis is a generation past, and the disease itself feels remote.
Joel Grey, who co-directs the show, says audiences now are shocked by the indifference toward the epidemic in the early 1980s: "The young people are flabbergasted with the information that they hear in that show. … It’s just horrendous, and true."
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