November 22, 2013
Contact: University Relations
Utilizing theatrical art as a platform to consider societal health issues, the University of Baltimore's Spotlight UB will produce a free reading of Rebecca Ranson's poignant play, Warren, on Monday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Wright Theater, 21 W. Mt. Royal Ave. Written to honor the memory of the playwright’s friend Warren Johnston, the play explores the human side of dealing with grief and the impact the AIDS epidemic on the families of the victims.
Johnston succumbed to AIDS in San Francisco General Hospital's Ward 5B, one of the first AIDS wards. The play opened in 1984 at Atlanta's Seven Stages Theatre, pre-empting early AIDS activism plays inlcuding Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart and William Hoffman's As Is. A community-based writer, Ranson created the play in order to raise AIDS awareness. The work also marked an early alliance between lesbians and gay men in the fight against AIDS.
Local artist and educator John C. Wilson will direct the reading as part of his consideration of its possible future production. Wilson met Johnston and Ranson through Alternate ROOTS, a consortium of southern theaters and artists, when the organization was founded in the late 1970s. Wilson produced and directed Robert Patrick's Kennedy's Children and then directed Patrick's After Brunch as part of Spotlight UB's Gay Expectations Too. He also directed The Laramie Project for Spotlight in 2010, plus a revival of A Fierce Longing, a play about the life and writings of Yukio Mishima at Theatre Project. Wilson is a board member for Baltimore Theatre Project and has served as an adjunct professor in UB’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts program.
Ranson has written more than 30 plays, many of them dealing with social issues. Among her many jobs in theater, for 12 years she served as executive director of the Southeastern Arts, Media and Education Project, a multi-arts organization for the gay and lesbian community in Atlanta. In 2004, she received the Robert Chesley Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. She currently lives on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
The week of World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), two AIDS quilt panels will hang in the lobby of UB's Student Center, 21 W. Mt. Royal Ave. The AIDS Quilt Names Project began in 1987, and serves as a poignant and powerful memorial to the lives lost to AIDS. The quilt panels will be on display for the entire week. The Diversity and Culture center will co-sponsor the quilt viewing with Spotlight UB, as well as host free HIV testing.
More information about these and other Spotlight UB performances, including upcoming theatrical productions, movies, comedy, concerts and readings, is available here.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the College of Public Affairs, the Merrick School of Business, the UB School of Law and the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.