A play on emotion
‘The Normal Heart’ opens Nov. 2; AIDS/HIV activist to speak
October 24, 2017
A drama about the
early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York will be performed at University of
University Theatre is
staging “The Normal Heart” at Harvey Hall Theatre. Show times are 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 2, through Saturday, Nov. 4, as well as Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday,
Nov. 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.
Preceding opening night, nationally
known AIDS/HIV activist Dab Garner will speak from 6 to 7 p.m. at the theater,
with a reception from 7 to 7:20 p.m. The talk, which is free, is co-sponsored
by the Qube, part of UW-Stout’s LGBTQIA+ office.
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.
at over 150 events a year in 10 countries including AIDS walks, rides,
conferences, LGBT Prides, health fairs, women's events, colleges, high school
and pretty much anywhere they will put a microphone in my hand,” he said.
The play 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
“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
“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
The cast of 12 students and their majors are:
- Jonah Brandt, of Janesville, real estate property
- Lois Cassell, of Ivory Coast, psychology
- Spencer Davidsz, of Oak Creek, engineering technology
- Kyle Fillmore, of Wisconsin Rapids, computer networking
and information technology
- Derek Johnson, of Riverside, Ill., applied mathematics
and computer science
- Garrett Kinser, of Hixton, graphic design and
- Christian Krohn, of Oakdale, Minn., game design and
- Jacob Masbruch, of West Milwaukee, family and consumer
- Matthew Matysik, of Sheboygan, hotel, restaurant and
- Jacob Mueller, of St. Charles, Minn., undeclared
- Kevin Pelzel, of Hudson, computer engineering
- Rebecca Watring, of Madison, construction
Scenic and lighting
design are by Assistant Professor Jennifer Sansfacon. Costume design is by Barb
Weisenberger, of Eau Claire; and dramaturg by student Rebecca Olson.
Harvey Hall Theatre
reopened in 2011 after renovation and reopened again in 2016 after the
renovation of Harvey Hall, which is 101 years old. The theater is in the League
of Historic American Theatres.
actors Ned, left, played by Derek Johnson, talks with Felix, played by
Christian Krohn, during a rehearsal for UW-Stout’s production of “The Normal
Middle: Paul Calenberg
Bottom: Felix, on floor, played by Christian Krohn,
responds to Ned, played by Derek Johnson, during a rehearsal for UW-Stout’s
production of “The Normal Heart.”