Revival of Larry Kramer’s ‘The Normal Heart’ Opens at New York’s Public Theater
A revival of "The Normal Heart," a play about the beginning days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States by Gay Men's Health Crisis and ACT UP Co-Founder Larry Kramer, on Wednesday opened at the Public Theater in New York, the New York Times reports (Brantley, New York Times, 4/22). Although the play, which first opened in 1985, was not the first to highlight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it "is the one that moved audiences, that had the longest run of any play produced at the Public and that captured forever a time of intense emotion," according to the Times. The play follows Ned Weeks, a character based on Kramer, and his attempts to form GMHC in the summer of 1981 (Clendinen, New York Times, 4/18). The other characters in the play are a "microcosm of gay men" -- a "closeted" banker who wants to work through the system, a "scared hedonist unwilling to give up sex" and the "courtly, queeny Southerner who serves as the voice of common sense," according to the AP/Chicago Tribune (Kuchwara, AP/Chicago Tribune, 4/21). Although when the play originally opened many critics accused Kramer of being melodramatic, "it is clear that Kramer was a prophet, an awful but essential messenger who howled the alarm that -- to humanity's disgrace -- remains unheard today at the highest levels of world power," according to the Long Island Newsday (Winer, Long Island Newsday, 4/18). "Everything [Ned] was talking about was new and unproven then," Kramer said, adding, "At the time it was still theory -- but it would turn out to be as bad as he was worried about. Now when you see the play, it's not about anger; it's about sadness -- sadness because it did all come true" (Rizzo, Hartford Courant, 4/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.