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Five-star student drama raises money for charity and audiences to their feet

The ADC’s recent production of The Normal Heart, which involved Trinity students on stage and behind the scenes, has raised more than £1500 for the Terrence Higgins Trust’s campaign to end new cases of HIV in the UK by 2030.

Larry Kramer’s play charts the impact of AIDS and the activism of the New York gay community during the early 1980s in New York, when little was known about the disease and stigma was rife.

Among the 40-plus student team staging the play were many Trinity students including director Alexander Velody and actor Jaysol Doy.

With five-star reviews from Varsity and support from Cambridge alumnus Stephen Fry, audiences were on their feet at the end of each performance. ‘Alex Velody’s direction, and his marvellous cast, prove the magnitude of what student theatre can tackle,’ wrote Varsity’s reviewer Alice Mainwood.

The production of The Normal Heart opened as LGBT+ History month began and Jaysol, a first-year Law student, raised the Rainbow flag with Trinity Head Porter Ryan Carter (both pictured below.) ‘Amidst the turmoil, frequent tragedy and chaos of our modern world, LGBT+ History Month, for me, serves as a powerful reminder of just how far we have come,’ he said.

Jaysol played Felix in Kramer’s drama, taking on the role ‘sensitively, convincingly and movingly,’ according to Mainwood. Reflecting on the play, which he first read aged 16, Jaysol said LGBT+ History Month was ‘also tinged with sadness.’

I am reminded of the countless individuals who fought tirelessly for liberation, and never saw it in their lifetimes. To me, they represent the best of humanity, and this month is an excellent opportunity to remember them. Without them, we would not be where we are. The fight is not yet won though, and it is up to all of us to ensure we keep moving forwards.

Alexander Velody, director of The Normal Heart. Photo: Jennifer Chen.

Alexander, a second-year Philosophy student, conceived the idea of staging The Normal Heart during LGBT+ History Month 2023, and pitched the play to the ADC last October. It had been a pleasure working with the 40-plus cast and crew on the production, he said. ‘I am so thankful for the unwavering love and commitment poured into the production which has been returned from our audiences wonderfully.’

Alexander said the issue of HIV and AIDS was not discussed enough among young people and other generations.

It’s astonishing how AIDS, despite its mammoth presence in recent history and ongoing global devastation, appears to have faded from the public consciousness. Engaging with and commemorating these stories from this crisis as part of a new generation is both a profound privilege and responsibility. In particular, the rawness of The Normal Heart serves as a poignant reminder of the harrowing yet authentic individual experiences during that era.

The cast and crew heard about the Terrence Higgins Trust’s work from its CEO Richard Angell during a pre-show talk.

Alexander said donations of any amount would be appreciated. Scan the QR code below to donate.

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