The HBO premiere of Ryan Murphy’s long-awaited film version of Larry Kramer’s play The Normal Heart has excited and engaged a lot of attention in the press and social media. It feels great and pertinent that conversations are emerging between people who lived through the worst days of the AIDS epidemic and those who are learning about it retroactively through its artistic representation.
I’m reminded that in 2007, I was interviewed by Sally Plaxton for the KPFA (Pacifica) radio program “What’s the Word?” for an episode on “American AIDS Drama.” Catherine Sheehy talks about Paula Vogel’s The Baltimore Waltz, and Robert Vorlicky discusses Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. But the show starts with me talking about the play, the social context from which it emerged, the original production at the Public Theater in 1985, and how the play held up in its 2004 Off-Broadway revival (below, featuring Raul Esparza and Joanna Gleason). Since then, of course, the play received a Broadway revival in 2007 directed by George C. Wolfe and Joel Grey, which probably helped get the film finally made.
You can check out the hour-long radio program online here. My portion starts at about 4:15 and runs to about 12:30.