Recasting History: Reflections on HBO's The Normal Heart

August 20, 2014 10:02 PM

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Recasting History: Reflections on HBO's The Normal Heart

My reactions to the HBO film of The Normal Heart (TNH) are not much different from my reactions to the play. When it was revived on Broadway in 2012, I wrote a commentary, "The Normal Heart, A Generation Later," that is posted on the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) blog site. It takes a long, discursive look at the play, my relationships to it, and grapples with the most persistent of the concerns to emerge about it: that TNH is a dramatization rather than an authoritative history. At what point do we begin to question the great and powerful Larry Kramer on his saying of TNH: "this is our history"?

In anticipation of the film and at Larry's behest, I spent an afternoon with Joe Mantello, who in his various and frequent roles as writer, director and actor is perhaps the most prolific and protean figure in New York theater. Mantello played Ned in the Tony award-winning Broadway revival of TNH an...

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