‘The Normal Heart’

Theater and dance and OMSSS honor World AIDS Day

On Friday, December 4 at 7:30 p.m., the Redfern Arts Center hosted a staged reading of “The Normal Heart.” The piece was written by Larry Kramer and focused on the HIV/AIDS epidemic that hit New York City in the 1980s.

The read aloud goes through a prominent HIV awareness group of the time and how the main character, Ned, founded the organization.

“The Normal Heart” was an emotional story of gay men in New York City trying to bring a voice to the epidemic because no one else would. Whether it be of politics or a fear of supporting the LGBTQ cause, no one would listen to Ned and his institution.

Hunter Kirschner, the coordinator of the LGBTQ+ support on campus, said the piece had elements of “loss and death and sickness and uncertainty.”

When asking Kirschner what he thought of the reading, he described it as “heart wrenching… There’s so many themes within the play about things that are really human, around relationships and around loss and around how we are taking care of ourselves and one another, as well as advocating for ourselves at a larger scale.”

“The Normal Heart” was read on stage by seven Keene State College students, Kirschner and Kirstin O’Brien, the chair of theater and dance department.

World AIDS Day is celebrated every year on December 1, starting in 1988. Kirschner explained that his organization does something every year for World AIDS Day and that they want to “Bring awareness to the cause as it continues to persist.”

When asking O’Brien how the two organizations collaborated to make this staged reading happen, she responded, “Hunter reached out to me… [we] tried to figure out how to honor World AIDS Day… Hunter asked if we could do a staged reading vs a discussion or a film.” The whole audience was in awe as the lives and the stories of all of the individual characters played out.

Audience member Alice Browne, a sophomore and music education major, explained the show to be “really powerful.”

Browne continued, “I feel like it’s an important message about a marginalized community that has not always been, and still isn’t, treated as well as it should be.”

O’Brien described the show as, “A voice. A voice to an epidemic, putting a face to something that could look very scientific and not personal, becomes human.”

Jessica Parker can be contacted at jparker@kscequinox.com

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