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.”