AIDS/HIV activist to speak before ‘The Normal Heart’ takes stage

October 30, 2017

Nationally known AIDS/HIV activist Dab Garner will speak from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, at UW-Stout’s Harvey Hall Theatre to kick off opening night for the university’s fall play, “The Normal Heart.”

According to his website, Garner was one of the first people in the U.S. diagnosed with HIV, then called GRID, in 1982. He was diagnosed several months after the deaths of a partner and a friend.

Dab GarnerThe free talk, co-sponsored by the Qube, part of UW-Stout’s LGBTQIA+ office, will be followed by a reception from 7 to 7:20 p.m.

The first performance of “The Normal Heart” begins at 7:30 p.m. at the theater. Other performances of the play will be 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 3-4, and Friday-Saturday, Nov. 10-11. A matinee will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11.

Tickets are $12. They can be purchased online and at the Service Center at the Memorial Student Center, 715-232-1122.

“The Normal Heart” is set in the early 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began. Gay activist Larry Kramer wrote the play in 1985 after seeing the tragic effects of indifference and lack of response to the disease in New York.

“The Normal Heart” is for a mature audience, Calenberg said. It was made into an HBO movie in 2014 starring Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts and Jim Parsons, winning two Emmys.

“One of the reasons I chose this play is because of its historical significance. While teaching Gay Theatre, it has become increasingly apparent that students have little or no understanding of the impact the AIDS epidemic had on the gay community,” said Paul Calenberg, University Theatre director.

“Gay history is often overlooked in academia, and this play gives an empathetic examination of the devastating impact that indifference by political and social organizations can have on lives. At its core the play is a story of love and loss,” he added.

Lead roles in UW-Stout’s production are played by students Derek Johnson, of Riverside, Ill., as Ned; and Christian Krohn, of Oakdale, Minn., as Felix.

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Dab Garner