Wednesday, July 17

‘Class of 90′ considers AIDS from a student’s point of view


‘Class of 90′ considers AIDS from a student’s point of view

Actors show other sides of the disease

By Jennifer Richmond

Daily Bruin Staff

With all the plays about AIDS recently, it’s about time there
was one showing the student’s point of view.

"Class of 1990" is that play.

"Class" takes a new twist on the AIDS epidemic by looking at the
death of Sarah, a teenage heterosexual girl who contracts the AIDS
virus, and how her class mates are dealing with her death.

"The point of view shown about AIDS is always about
homosexuality which is not the only side, you know? Just as many
heterosexual people have AIDS, so I think that’s interesting," says
Leslie Boone, one of the actresses in the play.

"And then there’s the junkie point of view as well," she adds,
referring to a character’s addiction to heroin which is mentioned
in "Class" as a possible cause of Sarah’s sickness.

But there’s also the teenage point of view, which is why Rick
Simone got involved. Although he’s done several shows on the
subject of AIDS and HIV, including a one-man show he wrote and
performed, this is the first he’s ever done that deals with the
younger generation.

"Everyone sees it from the heavy-handed, death-ridden point of
view. (Whereas this one) is fresh," he says. "It’s not typical. It
doesn’t talk down to young people, it talks to them on their own
level. Some people might think that that’s too simplistic a view of
a great problem in this world. But it’s not because if you talk to
young people now, they haven’t had the life experience that a lot
of us have.

"But the problem is that everybody doesn’t know," Simone
continues. "The fact is, that a growing number of the population
that’s getting this disease is people under the age of 21, and so,
those are the people I’d like to talk to and I’d like to get to see
this."

Because the show takes a look at this younger age group and
their reactions to the disease, actor Patrick Day says he feels the
show is a good teacher. "Because it deals with high school, (the
play) shows that AIDS can start at that early an age."

"There’s such a feeling that it’s so hard to get AIDS," actor
Bobby Jacoby adds. "That it’s only a gay disease or a bisexual
disease."

"And also when you’re younger you think you’re indestructible,"
says Day. But this play dispels all those myths. It shows the other
side of the AIDS issue in a serious manner without being too
heavy-handed.

The fact is that "heterosexual AIDS is growing," says Jonah
Rooney, an actor. He got involved because he feels the play is real
and because he’s hoping to "embed it into (audience’s) heads that
AIDS can happen to anyone anywhere," and not just to homosexuals.
"We’re hoping to get to them, you know? Tell ‘em what’s up; tattoo
it on their foreheads."

Simone feels the same way. "Educating people and getting people
to think is one thing, but another thing that comes up when you do
shows like this is also healing because a lot of people have been
through it; they’ve lived through it.

"So, if they can sit back and see that someone else has had
similar experiences and they can laugh about it, and maybe have a
moment when they don’t feel like they’re the only ones who have
been through that," Simone continues, "then that’s a good thing, a
healing thing. Especially when a show is going to donate proceeds
to Pediatric AIDS Foundation. So, the whole experience is sort of a
healing thing."

"And it’s just good," Natasha Wagner adds. "It’s good for people
to give their time for things that they believe in, you know," she
says of her involvement in the production. "Life isn’t all about
being self-centered, it’s about other things and for some reason
that’s not a strong theme in today’s society."

And that’s what both the cast and playwright want: to show
audiences what may be considered a new view of AIDS, but has
actually been around for some time.

.

STAGE: "Class of 1990." Written and Directed by Don Gibble.
Starring Natasha Wagner, John Ales, Patrick Day and Rick Simone.
Running through March 19 at the Tiffany Theater. Performing
Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. TIX: $25.
For more info call: (310) 289-2999.

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