UW-Platteville to present screening of award-winning AIDS documentary film ‘How to Survive a Plague’

November 15, 2013

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How to Survive a Plague Poster

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — In conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Pioneer Players’ production of Larry Kramer’s landmark play, “The Normal Heart,” the UW-Platteville Office of Diversity and Inclusion, LAE Film Committee and the theatre program will present the award-winning, Oscar nominated film “How to Survive a Plague” on Monday, Nov. 18 in UW-Platteville’s Thomas B. Lundeen Lecture Hall, Doudna Hall, at 6 p.m.

Called “a testament to human bravery” by the San Francisco Chronicle and “astonishing” by the Boston Globe, the screening is free and open to the public. There will be a panel discussion following the film. The film was directed by David France, a journalist who covered AIDS from its beginnings.

Released in 2012, “How to Survive a Plague” tells the story of the early years of the AIDS epidemic and the brave activists from the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, and the Treatment Action Group, or TAG, who successfully reversed the tide of the epidemic by demanding a meaningful, immediate response to what they perceived as a serious threat to public health and safety.

With no scientific training, this improbable group of activists infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, helping to identify promising new medication and treatments. The audacity and determination of ACT UP and TAG produced a political movement that led not only to an effective treatment regimen but also to the advancement of rights for the LGBT community.

“I felt it was important that we take this opportunity to tell the whole story,” said Dr. Ann Farrelly, associate professor of theatre and director of “The Normal Heart.”

“The play follows Kramer’s life before ACT UP, when the epidemic was still in its early stages, and his struggle to convince his fellow activists to be more forceful in their activism,” said Farrelly. “His controversial approach eventually led to his ouster from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and his writing of the play in 1985. Kramer would co-found ACT UP in 1987, but after 1987 it was still a full nine years before any viable drugs were available to stop the mass death.”

According to Dr. David Schuler, associate professor of theatre and organizer of the screening, “These two events are important companion pieces. One tells how the fight began and the other tells how it grew into one of the most remarkable illustrations of citizen action in this country.”

“This documentary gives a thorough history of the plague after the time depicted in ‘The Normal Heart,’” said Farrelly. “Larry Kramer went on to found ACT UP, which became one of the most powerful political forces of that era.”

Anyone who attends the film screening can receive a coupon for $2 off the ticket price for the play. “The Normal Heart” runs Nov. 20-23 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 23 and 24 at 2 p.m. The Benefit Wednesday performance is Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. All tickets for the benefit are $3 and the proceeds go to the Platteville Food Pantry and the Platteville Fire Department. All performances are in the Center for the Arts Theatre.

For information and tickets to “The Normal Heart,” contact the University Box Office at (608) 342-1298. For information about or to request disability accommodations for “How to Survive a Plague,” contact Schuler at (608) 342-1198.

Contact: Dr. David Schuler, Department of Performing and Visual Arts, (608) 342-1198, schulerd@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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