Theatre students close week with victim AIDS testimonials
April 24, 2006 —
SVSU theatre students sang, acted, and read testimonials of AIDS victims Thursday night in the Ryder Center in support of the AIDS Quilt week.
"AIDS, of course, has such a dramatic impact on the theatre community," said Janet Rubin, chair of the theatre department. "My students and I really think that the AIDS Quilt is an important event to support. We really wanted to participate in this event in some way."
The program began with a group of students singing a rendition of "Seasons of Love" from RENT, which was immediately followed by Nathanial Kovalsik and Adam Arnold's guitar-backed performance of John Lennon's "Imagine."
Steve Miller, Dan Klarich, Phil Bergquist, and Amy Schurlow then performed a scene from the Laramie Project, the true story of the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard due to his sexual orientation.
"It was actually a scene I did for one of my classes," Miller said. "It's personally just a scene that brought out a lot of emotion, and I think it's a good way to expose people to the unbelievably negative impact of hate in our community."
The scene chosen for performance was the one after finding Shepard tied to a pole and beaten to death.
"You expect to see that from a car crash going 100 mph," said Bergquist, who played the role of the ER doctor. "You don't expect to see that from a beating."
Throughout the hour-long event, students read testimonials of AIDS victims provided by the Bay Area Social Intervention Services (BASIS).
"We had some people on our planning committee capable of getting these testimonials from BASIS," Rubin said. "I think they are very powerful when read."
A later act was a scene from HIV Positive performed by Kurt McCool, Katie Muirhead, and Josh Thomas.
McCool played a suicidal 18-year-old HIV victim. However, his reverend (played by Thomas) convinces him that living life today is more important than worrying about the past.
"It doesn't matter how a person has spent his life, it only matters how a person spends his final days," Thomas read.
All of the theatre students involved partook in this event for a reason best described by Miller.
"This event, and this entire week, has been great for showing people that HIV and AIDS effect all kinds of things," Miller said. "AIDS is a part of daily life, and this week shows what kinds of things - both negative and positive - people get out of it."
Theatre student Colleen Cartwright organized this event. Student Life's Ryan Fewins and Ashley Holdsworth organized a planning committee of about 30 students and community members to plan the AIDS Quilt week.