Poor Richard’s Players are raising money and AIDS awareness with ‘The Normal Heart’

Check out the Poor Richards Players’ production of The Normal Heart. And while you’re at it, check out the play’s Facebook page if you want to donate to AIDS prevention efforts.
Jacob Coakley

The Normal Heart September 13-22; Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; $25. Art Square Theatre.

Poor Richard’s Players’ production of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, which documents the rise of the AIDS crisis in New York City, was already donating $5 from every ticket sold to the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada, but cast member Greg Baine wanted to do more.

“Because [the gay community has] been focused on civil rights, on equality and marriage and the advancements in medicine—which are all important things—what’s gotten put at the end of the list is [AIDS] prevention,” Baine says. “The people who are most affected by it now are 14-24 years old, and because they were born at the time of the crisis, they don’t know the story.”

So Baine set out to reach them where they live: Facebook. He developed the “Get Your Heart On” campaign, approached artists and local merchants and quickly had a plan—and $5,000. Every time someone posts a picture of Claire Jane Vranian’s green heart to The Normal Heart’s Facebook page, or just “likes” the page, participating businesses donate $1 to the Center, up to $5,000. That got Baine hitting the pavement at the last First Friday event, spreading the word about prevention.

Baine and The Normal Heart cast raised awareness, cash for the Center and a lot of goodwill among the community. “We had a couple of people who are HIV-positive tourists at the booth saying, ‘This is awesome,’” Baine says. “And everyone’s reaction has been really inspiring.”

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