UCSC student to direct Larry Kramer's groundbreaking play

poster for play The Normal Heart
Adam Odsess-Rubin
Adam Odsess-Rubin

UC Santa Cruz student Adam Odsess-Rubin will direct a Theater Arts Department production of Larry Kramer's award-winning, unflinching 1985 drama The Normal Heart, November 1-10, in the Theater Arts Experimental Theater on the UCSC campus.

Set in New York in the early 1980's, The Normal Heart follows the story of gay activist Ned Weeks and his struggle with the emerging realities of HIV/AIDS.

In the face of a deafening silence on the part of doctors, politicians and the press, Ned begins a grassroots movement that will change the history of the gay rights movement.

Originally produced at New York's Public Theater in 1985, The Normal Heart won three Tony Awards in 2011, including “Best Revival of a Play.” UCSC first produced the play in 1990.

"The Normal Heart is an outgrowth of my experience in the Community Studies program--researching and teaching political theater and its utility for creating social change in the United States," said Odsess-Rubin.

“Through a six-month field study program in 2012, I worked at The Civilians Theater Company in Brooklyn, NY, where I managed documentary theater projects around current issues such as Occupy Wall Street, gentrification in Brooklyn, and queer youth homelessness."

Odsess-Rubin noted that In The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer--an AIDS activist himself--dramatizes the struggle he and many others faced to fight government inaction in the face of mass death.

“This powerful and affecting drama not only tells a great story, it brings life to those lost,” said Odsess-Rubin. “By working with real events, we re-imagine history on the stage, and come together in the theater to collectively experience our past, in order to better understand our future.”

Criticized for being too political, Ned's character is drawn from Kramer's own experiences as a playwright, author, and LGBT activist. Upfront and unrelenting, the play gives the audience insight into the nature of struggle and the sacrifice necessary to create social change.

“This play helps me understand my place in the world as a gay man, an activist, and an artist,” said Odsess-Rubin. “The Normal Heart crackles with the indignity I feel. AIDS remains the elephant in the room in the queer community, and its history is silenced far too often.“

“I hope this production of The Normal Heart at UC Santa Cruz engenders new conversations, builds new bridges, and strengthens our community,” he added.


The Theater Arts Department presents Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart, directed by Adam Odsess-Rubin, November 1-10, in the Theater Arts Experimental Theater on the UCSC campus. Shows begin at 7 p.m. (Sundays at 3 p.m.). Tickets are $12 general, $11 seniors (62+), $11 students w/ ID, available in advance at the UCSC Ticket Office (831-459-2159), and Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium box office (831) 420-5260). Seating is limited, advance purchase recommended.