My three faces of AIDS

I was really involved with theatre back when I was in high school; it used to be my favorite part of the school year. However, I didn’t continue on with it in college; I dabbled with it a little as a freshman and sophomore, but then moved on to what I viewed as “part of growing up” and trying to get a degree in something that would have less chances of me living off of Ramen in a cardboard box (ironically, my current meals and only a few steps below my current living situation).

However, a month ago a friend of mine sent me an email letting me know that a little group on campus, Project 40/40, was having a musical to raise money for AIDS research and medicine. Well, I’ve never stopped missing theatre (“the one that got away”) and of course I wanted to do something that would help people. Most importantly, it was a great way for me to justify ignoring my rapidly upcoming final exams. So I auditioned, and got in – and they gave me three different monologues and four different songs to sing in! The musical, “Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens” tells the stories of a couple dozen AIDS victims from their perspective after their deaths. They talk about their fears, hopes, dreams, and how they suffered both from the disease itself and the stigmatization it brought them. The play was originally created in the 1980’s as a benefit fundraiser, exactly how we used it. It’s basically a series of monologues, interspersed with about a dozen songs. Many of the characters are homosexual, but almost as many are people who were infected through a myriad of different ways as well.

We just had our three performances this past weekend, and wow – I wish we could have gone for at least an entire week. Being up there again, in front of the audience, feeling the lights on me and putting on a performance…it was amazing. I can’t believe I’ve gone for four years without doing that. My first, and last, college theatrical performance. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get involved again! I told my little brother, who also loves theatre – don’t make the same mistake I did! Jump back in now and enjoy it!

From left to right, my three characters are:

  • Billy: the quiet cowboy from North Dakota, who journeyed to New York to escape from the persecution he faced in his small town for being gay. He loved his life for the first time in the big city – only to end up having it cut short by the AIDS epidemic.
  • Nick: the psychotic, semi-demented pretty boy who contracted AIDS – and then decided to exorcise his pain and rage on the world by infecting as many other men as possible before his death.
  • Paul: the stoic Vietnam veteran who contracted AIDS from doing drugs to escape from the horrors of the war surrounding him, and then like so many other veterans was rejected for assistance by the government for his suffering. (This was my favorite; I got to lead the characters in a loud, angry protest denouncing the government for its neglect of AIDS sufferers!)

I’m up awfully late to finish up a paper for my Rhetoric of Religion class…six pages of analyzing the hijab in contemporary Moroccan society. That may seem kind of specific, but I think I did pretty good on it. Less than a week left to go now! Looks like the sun is rising…time for me to pack it in. Still one more paper left to do.

NOTE: I added a video of my monologue as Paul the veteran in a later post, click here to check it out.