Performance tonight shows the way AIDS changes lives

Amanda Hayes

Play focuses on universal impact, tragedy of disease

The Cleveland Public Theatre will present the play “In the Continuum” at 7 p.m. tonight in Cartwright Hall.

“In the Continuum” looks at the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS and how the disease changes lives around the world. The play was written by Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter as a graduate school acting project at New York University, said Sharon Briggs, University of Health Services coordinator.

The play has toured the United States and Africa, Briggs said, and shows how two women with very different lives are forced to deal with AIDS.

Focused on the effects of AIDS on the African and African-American communities, the play features a teen from Los Angeles and a woman from Zimbabwe. Though their lives have obvious differences, the reality of an AIDS diagnosis is universally tragic.

Briggs said Dianne Kerr, associate professor in the College of Education, suggested bringing “In the Continuum” to Kent State. The University Health Services Office of Health Promotion agreed to assist the student organizations sponsoring the play and helped organize the event.

Mike Brown, vice president of Kappa Alpha Psi Inc., the fraternity that is sponsoring the event, said they held a program earlier in the year about AIDS awareness. He said he hopes presenting the issue in the form of a play will have a more powerful impact upon students.

“I want people to be more aware of the health issues that are there,” Brown said. “That type of caliber (a play) will bring more support to this cause.”

Akua Gyau, a student assistant in the Office of Health Promotion, said the goal of the program is to educate and encourage students to actively prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“We want to do as much as possible to increase awareness about this very real and widespread threat,” she said.

Gyau said the HIV/AIDS epidemic is prevalent in minority communities, but people of all races and nationalities are affected. Gyua said she thinks it’s important to show students how the disease changes lives around the world, including the 1.2 million infected in the United States.

Gyau added that awareness education on the prevention of HIV/AIDS is extremely important, as about 25 percent of those infected do not know they have the disease. Gyua said University Health Services encourages students to participate in the free anonymous HIV testing it offers and to encourage others to do the same.

Kent State’s presentation of “In the Continuum” is being sponsored by Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Gamma Tau chapter, and funded by the Undergraduate Student Senate. The program is free to all students. The program’s Web site says the play will also run through May 3, at the Gordon Square Theatre in Cleveland, with tickets at $10 and $18.

Contact student health reporter Amanda Hayes at [email protected]. Minority affairs reporter Christina Stavale also contributed to this story.