Bil Browning

The Normal Heart at Arena Stage [Interview]

Filed By Bil Browning | July 03, 2012 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: Chris Dinolfo, HIV/AIDS, Kreeger Theater, Larry Kramer, The Normal Heart

In late June, the Arena Stage in DC offered me the opportunity to see Larry Kramer's famous play "The Normal Heart." We didn't get a chance to see it on Broadway and, while I'd read the play, I'd never seen it performed.

The play is intensely emotional and as we left I asked Jerame how he felt about it since he'd never seen or read the play. It left him feeling angry. I left with an overwhelming sense of sadness and loss.

I remembered the friends I'd lost and what it was like in the days before AZT was on the scene. I remember the feeling of being so scared and almost resigned that I would die of AIDS eventually because I'm gay. Jerame didn't come out until he was in his early 20s and is a few years younger than I am. He missed most of that time because it simply wasn't part of his world as a straight guy in rural Indiana.

One of the actors in the production, Chris Dinolfo, plays the part of David - the first character to die from AIDS. We sat down backstage to talk about his role and how he was introduced to the play. He has a really interesting story about seeing the show in New York - on the same day marriage equality passed in the state.

When Chris and I talked about the different emotions Jerame and I left with, he admitted that he's young enough that he doesn't know anyone who's died from AIDS. It was an interesting to conversation that ranged from the generational shift to the changing priorities of the LGBT movement. I'll try to get that portion of the interview up soon.

The show runs through July 29 at Arena Stage's Kreeger Theater. It's an independent affiliated event of AIDS 2012, the biennial International AIDS conference. Sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt are on display at the theater and there's a benefit performance on July 23 with proceeds going to the Washington AIDS Partnership. Buy tickets here.

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