Recalling the Beginnings of the AIDS Crisis Through the Play 'Warren,' at UB Oct. 23-26
October 6, 2014
Contact: University Relations
Continuing its history of utilizing theater to explore social issues, Spotlight UB will present Warren, American playwright Rebecca Ranson's powerful play about caregiving and grief at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, at the University of Baltimore on Oct. 23-26. This surprisingly funny and moving work will feature a mix of campus and local actors, including Adam Cooley, Don Clark, Rebecca Clendaniel, Diane Finlayson, J. Hargrove, Nancy Linden, Kevin James Logan, Patrick Martyn, and Patrik Fleming. John C. Wilson, a UB alumnus and former faculty member, will direct. Warren will run in UB's Wright Theater, located in the University's Student Center at 21 W. Mt. Royal Ave., Oct. 23-26 at 7 p.m., with a 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23 matinee. Several performances will be followed by a facilitated audience discussion. Attendance details are listed below.
Ranson, a North Carolina native, is a staple of Southern theater and a social activist who began writing this play as her friend Warren Johnston was battling AIDS. Instead of concentrating on the political landscape of the time, Ranson explored the effects of Johnston's illness on his friends and family, along with the fears of a young, bright artist suddenly facing his mortality.
Johnston succumbed to AIDS in San Francisco General Hospital’s Ward 5B, the first AIDS ward in the country. The play opened in 1984 at Atlanta's Seven Stages Theatre, pre-empting early AIDS activism plays including Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart and William Hoffman's As Is.
Wilson personally knew both Ranson and Johnston. He selected the play, which is perhaps the first AIDS play, both to revive a largely forgotten work, and to honor the lives and legacy of these two gifted artists. Wilson says he wants younger generations to better understand the early years of the AIDS crisis.
"I am attracted to plays with strong personal narratives and powerful social issues, which is true of this show and ones I've recently directed—The Laramie Project (at Spotlight UB), Kennedy's Children, and A Fierce Longing," Wilson says.
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 Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Tickets for Warren are $15 for general admission, $10 for senior citizens and UB faculty and staff, and $5 for all students and alumni. Tickets are available at www.etix.com; search under University of Baltimore. Tickets can also be purchased at the venue beginning one hour prior to the performance.
Reduced rate parking is available on event nights at the Fitzgerald Garage on Oliver Street; a voucher will be provided at the box office, and the UB shuttle is available to transport patrons between the venue and the garage.
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.