So I saw The Normal Heart at Arena Stage last week and wanted to share some thoughts about it. Actually had a lot of thoughts to share, so had to divvy it up between my two blogs. This one's looking at it from an arts management and local arts community perspective, but you can check out the other, more personal one as well.
If you aren't familiar with The Normal Heart, here is Arena Stage's blurb for it:
Tony winner George C. Wolfe, (Angels in America) directs Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning Broadway production of The Normal Heart. Fueled by love, anger, hope and pride, a circle of friends struggle to contain the mysterious disease ravaging New York's gay community. Dismissed by politicians, frustrated by doctors and fighting with each other, their differences could tear them apart - or change the world. Hailed by critics as “riveting” (Newsday) and “a great night at the theater” (New York Times), Kramer's masterwork is an outrageous and totally unforgettable look at sexual politics during the AIDS crisis and remains one of the theater’s most powerful evenings ever.
This is significant because the Aids Memorial Quilt is on display in Washington, DC this year. This partnership is a wonderful example of an opportunity that just made sense.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Arena Stage has also partnered with a number of other organizations for a series of relevant events throughout the run of the show, anything from free HIV screenings, to a series of panels throughout July.
All this is done in alignment with their mission:
Arena Stage is a national center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater.as all of this is certainly part of the production and presentation of this particular theater piece for the audience. The experience doesn't start when the house lights go down or end when the final bow is taken.
This is not to say that Arena Stage is the first theatre to do this. But rather than being an option or something to aspire to, I believe curating an experience beyond the stage will increasingly become a necessity as younger generations become future audiences.
But I digress. The Normal Heart runs until July 29th. I highly recommend anyone in the DC area not only see it, but try to attend one of the panels as well.
- J Street Jr
P.S. Check out the official trailer, below.