Normal Heart, The: All-Black Cast for Larry Kramer’s Pioneering AIDS Play

The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s pioneering play about the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, takes on a new form during a historic virtual read on May 8.

For the first time, an almost entirely Black, LGBTQ and POC cast of actors will star in the show, led by Sterling K. Brown, Laverne Cox and Jeremy Pope.

Vincent Rodriguez III, Guillermo Díaz, Jake Borelli, Ryan O’Connell, Daniel Newman, Jay Hayden and Danielle Savre will round out the cast, and Martin Sheen, star of the original London production in 1986, will also provide a special introduction.

Directed by Station 19 exec producer Paris Barclay, the reading is put on by ONE Archives Foundation, the oldest active LGBTQ organization in the U.S., and the Invisible Histories Project, which is dedicated to making LGBTQ Southern history accessible to the community.

Gay Directors, Gay Films? By Emanuel Levy (Columbia University Press, August 2015).

Profits from ticket sales for the event will go to the One Archives Foundation and its initiatives.

Barclay says it highlighting Black love, seeing the story in a new way amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He recalls: “I was in New York when this play happened and felt the reverberations of it in every aspect of my life. I went and saw the original production at The Public Theater, in which Brad Davis played the Ned Weeks role, and not only was I moved by it, but it’s one of the things that made it clear to me that I couldn’t have a career without also being some kind of an activist. That’s the plea of the play, that we have to all get involved. We have to all do something to help each other. This play instilled the idea that there really isn’t a public life without activism.”