A.C.T. Announces Special Events in Association with THE NORMAL HEART

In association with the West Coast premiere of George C. Wolfe's Tony Award–winning production of The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer's landmark play focusing on the early days of the AIDS crisis in New York City in the 1980s, American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) will offer numerous special events through its InterACT series, designed to give patrons opportunities to get closer to the action while making a whole night out of their evening at the theater.  In addition, A.C.T. welcomes the return of Experts Talk Back – a popular postshow discussion series that will feature leaders and specialists in the area of HIV and AIDS.Admission to all InterACT and Experts Talk Back events is free with a ticket to any performance of The Normal Heart.  Tickets (starting at $25) are on sale now and may be purchased online at act-sf.org or by calling 415.749.2228The Normal Heart performs a limited runSeptember 13–October 7, 2012, at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco). 

A.C.T.'s InterACT events and Expert Talk Back series include:

  • · Prologue | September 18, 5:30 p.m.
    Before the curtain goes up, get behind the artistic process at this fascinating preshow discussion featuring a member of theNormal Heart creative team. 
  • · Theater on the Couch | September 21, 8 p.m.
    Discuss the minds, motives, and behaviors of the characters with Dr. Bradford Crowell, Assistant Chief of Psychiatry at San Francisco's Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, who specializes in working with HIV patients and family members.
  • · Experts Talk Back: "AIDS Then" | Saturday, September 22, following the 2 p.m. performance
    Thirty years ago, contracting HIV was considered a death sentence. Patients who had contracted the disease-then referred to as GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency)- lived for only a short period after severe symptoms of AIDS appeared . Panic was all around. Not knowing or understanding what it was, or how it was transmitted or treated, HIV patients became the new contagion scare. Moderated by Senator Mark Leno-and featuring guest speakers DiAnne Jones, R.N., and Paul Volberding, M.D.-"AIDS Then" delves deeply into the early days of HIV in San Francisco and the roles played by the government, media, and medical professionals.    

         DiAnne Jones, R.N.- has worked more than 30 years in Ward 36 at San Francisco General Hospital,      
         the first HIV/AIDS-specialized clinic in the United States.  
         Paul Volberding, M.D.-widely considered one of the world's leading AIDS experts, he cofounded one  
        of the first AIDS-designated clinics in the early 1980s at San Francisco General Hospital.
  • · Audience Exchanges | September 25, 7 p.m., and October 3, 2 p.m.
    Learn firsthand what goes into the making of great theater. After the show, join us for a lively onstage chat with the actors, designers, and artists who develop the work onstage.
  • · OUT with A.C.T. | September 26, 8 p.m.
    The best LGBT night in town! Mingle with the cast and fellow theatergoers while enjoying free drinks and treats at this popular afterparty.
  • · Experts Talk Back: "AIDS Now" | Sunday, September 30, following the 2 p.m. performance
    Entering its fourth decade, HIV has affected communities across culture, age, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, geographic region, and religious denomination.  Over the past several years, many breakthroughs have been made in understanding the disease.  New advances in drug developments have helped to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide. Yet there is still much work that needs to be done.  Moderated by The Very Reverend Alan Jones, former Dean of Grace Cathedral-and featuring guest speakers Diane Havlir, M.D., and Neil Giuliano –"AIDS Now" discusses what needs to be done medically, politically, and economically so that one day we will be able to control the disease.

     Diane Havlir, M.D.-Chief of the HIV/AIDS division and Positive Health Program at San Francisco 
     General Hospital  
     Neil Giuliano-CEO of the SF AIDS Foundation  

  • · Wine Series | October 2, 8 p.m.
    Raise a glass at this wine tasting event featuring leading sommeliers from the Bay Area's hottest local wineries.
  • · PlayTime | October 6, 1 p.m.
    Get hands-on with theater with the artists who make it happen at this lively preshow workshop. Learn more about how lighting and projections, which play an integral part of this production, are created and used in large-scale theatrical presentations.

Fueled by love, anger, hope, and pride, The Normal Heart centers around a circle of friends struggling to contain the mysterious disease ravaging New York's gay community. First produced in 1985 by Joseph Papp at New York's Public Theater, the show immediately became a critical sensation and a seminal moment in theater history. Kramer's unapologetic tackling of the AIDS epidemic, gay marriage, and our national healthcare system casts theatrical light on issues that are as present in today's national discourse as they were when the play first premiered a quarter of a century ago.

Wolfe's 2011 Broadway staging received universal acclaim and was the recipient of three Tony Awards, three Drama Desk Awards, and the Outer Circle Critics Circle Award, all naming it Best Revival of a Play. The show was also awarded the Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle. 

The Normal Heart will feature original Broadway cast member Patrick Breen in the role of Ned Weeks, the fiery writer and activist at the center of the play. He is joined by noted film and television actress (and fellow original Broadway cast member) JorDan Baker as Dr. Emma Brookner, a passionate physician determined to stop the spread of the mysterious disease. The production also features Tom Berklund (Broadway's The Addams Family) as Craig Donner/Grady, Matt McGrath (Broadway's Cabaret, A.C.T.'s The Black Rider) as Felix Turner, Tony Award nominee Michael Berresse (Broadway's Kiss Me, KateA Chorus Line, and The Light in the Piazza) as Mickey Marcus, Sean Dugan (NBC's Smash) as Tommy Boatwright, Jon Levenson (Broadway's The Normal Heart) as Hiram Keebler/Examining Doctor, Nick Mennell (Broadway's A Free Man of Color) as Bruce Niles, and Bruce Altman (HBO's Game Change) as Ben Weeks.

A.C.T. would like to acknowledge its 2012–13 company sponsors Ms. Joan Danforth; Ray and Dagmar Dolby; Frannie Fleishhacker; Priscilla and Keith Geeslin; Marcia and John Goldman; Ambassador James C. Hormel and Michael P. Nguyen; Koret Foundation; Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation; Burt and Deedee McMurtry; Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Osher; Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock; Ms. Kathleen Scutchfield; Mary and Steven Swig; Doug Tilden and Teresa Keller; and Jeff and Laurie Ubben.

A.C.T.'s 2012–13 continues with Carey Perloff's sweeping production of Sophocles' Greek tragedy Elektra starring Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis (October 25–November 18), the Bay Area's favorite holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol (November 30–December 24), the West Coast premiere of Amy Herzog's acclaimed new comic drama 4000 Miles (January 17–February 10), the world premiere of George F. Walker's audacious dark comedy Dead Metaphor (February 28–March 24), the world premiere hip-hop opera Stuck Elevator (April 4–28), the Bay Area premiere of The National Theatre of Scotland's internationally acclaimed production of Black Watch(May 3–June 9), and a new production of Tom Stoppard's masterwork Arcadia (May 16–June 9). 

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