Berea College Theatre Presents “The Normal Heart”


The Berea College Theatre Laboratory is pleased to announce the opening of Larry Kramer’s ground breaking play, The Normal Heart.  The play, originally produced in 1985, is a loosely autobiographical story about the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and the work a small, but dedicated, group of men did to make the public aware.  Aided by a caring physician, these brave volunteers worked tirelessly to get information to those who needed to know about the dangers of this disease, in addition to lobbying government and social organizations for support and recognition. Performances are 8 p.m. February 19-23 in the McGaw Theatre, Jelkyl Drama Center.

The Normal Heart re-opened on Broadway in 2011, and was enthusiastically received, winning the Tony, Drama League, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for best revival of a play. Newsweek says of Kramer’s writing, “Like the best social playwrights, Kramer produces a cross fire of life and death energies that illuminate the many issues and create a fierce and moving human drama.” The New York Times stated about the revival, “The Normal Heart is breathing fire!  A great cathartic night at the theatre.”

Directed by Associate Professor of Theatre, Deborah Martin, the Berea College performance run of The Normal Heart will feature a limited showing of two panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on loan from the Names Project based in Atlanta.  “We are humbled and honored to be able to display part of this iconic visual material from our history,” states Martin, “This play continues to resonate with both current and previous generations whose lives are invariably affected by this world-wide plague.  We do this play in memory of those men and women whose lives were lost due to widespread fear, prejudice and evasion.”  The panels will be available for viewing February 18, and will remain throughout the performance run.

The cast features new and veteran Berea College students and a powerful cameo by Professor Shan Ayers, Program Coordinator and Director of Theatre.  “I was a very green freshman faculty member at Berea when this play was written and first produced, and I recall reading about several incidents of extreme violence that surrounded subsequent productions of Kramer’s powerful story.  Because it was, and is, controversial, I have always been interested in this play.  More importantly, however, I have lost friends, past professors, and colleagues to AIDS so, to honor them, I wanted to be involved in this production as a performer as well as a designer.”

Performances of The Normal Heart at 8pm February 19-23.  Ticket prices range from $5 to $10 and can be reserved by calling the Box Office at 859-985-3300 Monday through Friday, 1-5pm and one hour prior to curtain.  Admission for Berea College students is pre-paid as part of their student activities fee, but reservations are required.  Convocation performances are Wednesday and Friday, February 20 and 22.  A sign interpreted performance is Friday, February 22.

NOTE:  The Normal Heart contains adult language and situations, and is not suitable for children under the age of 13.  

Categories: News, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: Berea College Theatre Laboratory, Broadway, The Normal Heart

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.