'Normal Heart' Playwright Larry Kramer Writing New COVID-19 Themed Stage Work

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday March 31, 2020

Larry Kramer - the co-founder of Gay Men's Health Crisis and author of the still-relevant AIDS drama "The Normal Heart" - has sharpened his quill and started work on a new play that looks at the current COVID-19 pandemic, The New York Times reports.

But for Kramer, 84, who has been living with HIV since his 1988 diagnosis, COVID-19, with its attendant governmental missteps and a new round of scapegoating (this time against China and Chinese Americans) is less a matter of history repeating than the same old song never having ended in the first place.

"The government has been awful in both cases," Kramer told the Times.

The fast-moving COVD-19 pandemic's rapid spread has not allowed governmental leadership in the United States the luxury of sitting back for years at a time while people die, as was the case as the AIDS crisis ravaged the gay community in the 1980s. But the current administration has still managed to provoke controversy and rage, with the president reportedly ignoring intelligence warnings about the impending pandemic as long ago as January, and then dismissing, minimizing, and shifting blame for the new pandemic even as it gathered force.

Now the U.S. has exceeded all other nations in the number of COVID-19 cases, and the overburdened health care system is struggling, in some places, to keep up. That struggle might be a mere preview of things to come, health experts warn, as the disease spreads throughout the country.

Even now, the president and his supporters continue to try deflecting blame, with President Trump recently denying controversial comments he made publicly and conservatives hammering on the claim that liberals and the mainstream media are, if not responsible for the virus, then cheering as it ravages the nation - a baseless claim that enrages some on the political left.

"They were terrible with AIDS and they're terrible with this thing," Kramer reflected in his comments to the Times. "One wonders what will become of us."

Kramer's work in progress is currently titled "An Army of Lovers Must Not Die," the Times reports, and though Kramer has recently managed to complete a monumental work in two volumes - "The History of the American People" - his advancing age, health concerns, and the way the current pandemic continues to unfold at a dizzying pace all present a question mark as to when, or whether, Kramer will be able to bring the new work to completion.

Said Kramer: "I wonder if it will ever be done now."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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