Before Sept. 11, plans were afoot to revive Larry Kramer's landmark AIDS play, The Normal Heart, Off Broadway this season. That could still happen, but, according to producer and casting director David Clemmons, plans remain up in the air, and opportunities to bring the show in this fall were scuttled because of questions regarding schedules, performance rights, and audience tastes for entertainment following the terrorist attacks three months ago.
Penned in 1984, The Normal Heart told of Ned Weeks (a semi autobiographical version of author Kramer), a gay activist enraged at the government's apathetic response to the AIDS crisis. While William Hoffman's As Is gave Broadway theatregoers a tender, familial perspective on AIDS, Normal Heart, at the Public Theatre, was more of an angry rallying cry. David Drake's own solo play, The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me, stemmed from seeing the Normal Heart and its unification of the gay community. Kramer later followed up the drama with an angrier and more disheartened, though equally praised, sequel, The Destiny of Me.
Clemmons told Playbill On-Line Dec. 13 the Lucille Lortel Theatre was the initial target, but the venue was available only for 16 weeks, "and we couldn't recoup in time." For now, the production is simply "on hold. We're still talking about it, still committed to making it happen (and if it does, it will be this season), and still moving forward with the playwright on the rights. Theatre owners wanted to give us space starting in November, but we couldn't move that fast. Sept. 11 decimated Off Broadway, and we still don't know if a play about people dying of AIDS is what people want to see right now."
New York's last look at The Normal Heart was in a 1998 Off-Off Broadway revival by the Alchemy Theatre. Author Kramer continues his very public dissection of gay issues and healthcare in America, with his liver transplant surgery currently receiving significant media coverage. Should it happen, the New York revival would likely be directed by vincent Paul Boyle, with Martian Entertainment serving as general managers.
— By David Lefkowitz