Monday, June 10 at 8:00 PM
THE NORMAL HEART (1985)
By Larry Kramer
At Cape May Stage’s Robert Shackleton Playhouse
The Normal Heart portrays a population at war, and a plague that nips at its heels every step of the way. It is a heartbreaking indictment against ignorance during the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City that led to the creation of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GNHC). Founded in 1982 by playwright Larry Kramer, Nathan Fain, Larry Mass, Paul Popham, Paul Rapoport, and Edmund White, GMHC continues to support those dealing with HIV-AIDS, but originally this bold organization had to also demand that the burgeoning HIV-AIDS epidemic be taken seriously in not only New York City, but in the nation at large. The Normal Heart follows activist Ned Weeks (based on Kramer himself) as he pursues those in politics, the medical profession, and the general public in pursuit of his campaign for awareness, which is actually a race against time, as his friends and lovers are dying.
This hauntingly beautiful play, first produced by Joseph Papp at the Public Theater, opened on April 21, 1985 and ran for 294 performances. Productions in London, Sydney, and Los Angeles followed. Barbara Streisand organized and introduced a benefit reading for Broadway Cares at the Roundabout Theatre in 1993. The Normal Heart premiered on Broadway in 2011 for a limited engagement at The Golden Theatre. HBO presented it as a film in 2014.
Monday, June 24 at 8:00 PM
THE TEMPERAMENTALS (2009)
By Jon Marans
At East Lynne Theater Company in Residence at The First Presbyterian Church of Cape May
In 1950, two Temperamentals, the code word used by homosexuals to quietly define themselves, saw the need to start an organization whose purpose was to unite, inform and empower. Founders Harry Hay, a communist and social radical, and famed Austrian-born avant-garde fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, named it the Mattachine Society after a Medieval French secret society of masked men who were the anonymous social critics of their time, because Harry and Rudi, too, believed theirs should be, at first, an “underground” society. This was the era of McCarthyism, when much of American politics and culture was focused on containing the spread of communism. It was also the time of the “Lavender Scare” when federal and state governments investigated and fired thousands of employees who were suspected of being gay or lesbian, claiming that they were “security risks” who were vulnerable to Soviet blackmail.
While this intelligent, witty, and entertaining play explores the trials of the society’s founders as they risked their
lives and livelihoods to gain equality, it also reveals the relationship between Hay and Gernreich as their passion
for each other grew, along with their cause.
After premiering at The Barrow Group Studio in April 2009, The Temperamentals moved off-Broadway to New World Stages from February 18 – May 30, 2010. It received the Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble Cast. Michael Urie, who originated the role of Rudi Gernreich, received a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor.