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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 17 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 03
Strawberry Theatre Workshop presents The Normal Heart
Arts & Entertainment
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Strawberry Theatre Workshop presents The Normal Heart

Opening on Thursday, January 16, and running Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through February 15, at 7:30 p.m., Strawberry Theatre Workshop returns to the Erickson Theatre Off Broadway (1524 Harvard Ave.) with the ground-breaking AIDS drama, The Normal Heart.

Written by fiercely outspoken Gay and AIDS activist Larry Kramer in 1985, The Normal Heart is an intimate story of a tight-knit group of friends that doubles as a real-life political thriller.

Called 'a masterwork of love, rage, and pride,' the play is a fearless look at the sexual politics of New York at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

About The Normal Heart
The Normal Heart follows the journey of Gay activist Ned Weeks as he attempts to establish an AIDS awareness organization in a city with an active and thriving Gay population in 1981. The government and medical community's refusal to acknowledge the virus as a crisis presents Ned and his colleagues with obstacles, and raises questions of ethics and human rights in these leading institutions.

The resistance from government officials and medical professionals is a reminder that the first step of an international political movement is individual action. At The Normal Heart's core is the story of one man who refuses to let doctors, politicians, and the press bury the truth of an epidemic behind a wall of silence, but also emphasizes the need for education and compassion surrounding the life-threatening virus.

After a successful 1985 Off-Broadway production at The Public Theater, The Normal Heart was revived in Los Angeles, London, and appeared again Off-Broadway in 2004. A Broadway debut opened in April 2011 and won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play. An HBO movie version will be released in May 2014

Strawshop - an organization with a mission to start community conversations - is partnering with Lifelong AIDS Alliance to bring this vital history back to the stage for two constituencies: those who survived the epidemic, as well as a generation of sexually active adults too young to remember the early horror of AIDS.

The performances will include talk-back sessions with caregivers and activists who will answer questions on the challenges still faced by a community living with HIV/AIDS, our best strategies for prevention, and the hope for a cure. Tickets for The Normal Heart are $36 general, $27 seniors, $18 students. Advance tickets:

normalheart.brownpapertickets.com; 1-800-838-3006. More information: www.strawshop.org.

About the director, cast and production team
Directing for Strawshop is Sheila Daniels, winner of the 2011 TPS Gregory Award for Strawshop's Breaking the Code.

Greg Lyle-Newton is featured as Kramer's semi-biographical alter ego, Ned Weeks. He is supported by Stranger Genius Amy Thone as Dr. Emma Brookner, Intiman Artistic Director Andrew Russell as New York Times columnist Felix Turner, Rob Burgess (Hound of the Baskervilles) as brother Ben Weeks, and Peter Crook (The Seagull Project) as the closeted activist Bruce Niles.

The cast also includes Stephen Black, Brian Culbertson, Joseph Cummings, and Simon Hamlin. Designers are Reed Nakayama, Ron Erickson, Katherine Stromberger, and Strawshop Artistic Director Greg Carter. The Normal Heart is stage-managed by Claire Branch and Gabrielle Strong

About Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Founded in 2004 by Greg Carter, Strawberry Theatre Workshop is a professional theatre company dedicated to socially engaged work of the highest caliber. Strawshop is a Stranger Genius Award winner, a four-time Seattle Times Footlight Award winner, and the only company to be nominated for a TPS Gregory Award for Outstanding Production four years in a row. Known for its critically acclaimed productions of Breaking the Code, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, The Elephant Man, and The Laramie Project, Strawshop is anchored in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Strawshop is one of three companies selected to operate the new 12th Avenue Arts, a center for theatre slated to open in October 2014.

Mission: Strawberry Theatre Workshop is committed to the idea that the theatre is the people's place of aspiration, and that any voice from the stage is translated exponentially into conversations at coffee shops, bus stops, classrooms, and play fields. Strawshop is dedicated to the idea of ensemble, in the broadest sense of the word. Our ensemble does not only mean a resident company of workers, but a collective that includes our work, our audience, and our neighborhood. This is an activist stance. To be a good neighbor is to be a relevant neighbor, a responsible neighbor, and a vocal neighbor.

Courtesy Strawberry Theatre Workshop

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