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Play put on by Blinn students examines response to 1980s AIDS crisis

Paula Vogel's homage to her deceased brother satirizes stigmatization of AIDS patients
Posted at 5:58 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 18:58:44-04

BRYAN, Texas — The theater program at Blinn College’s Bryan campus may be small, but its staff and students are full of passion – not just for acting, but for communicating important social messages.

Theater instructor and director Greg Wise chose each season’s plays for the past 12 years, and a lot of thought goes into the process.

"I love to pick plays that I feel the community at large will benefit from, and that we can do a partnership with, just as we’re going to do with the Pride Community Center and Baltimore Waltz," Wise said.

The Baltimore Waltz that opens this season on Thursday, Oct. 13, is a story that satirizes the stigmatization of AIDS during the height of the 1980s crisis. It’s a play that Wise saw in Houston back in the early 90s.

"It was a play that was very special because Paula Vogel wrote it really as a love letter to her brother, whom she lost to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s," Wise said.

At the end of opening night’s performance, Rick Burgess of the Pride Community Center, a local LGBTQ organization, will host an open discussion with the audience and cast members, covering the AIDS epidemic and the current state of HIV treatment and prevention.

"HIV is still out there," said Katrina Stewart, executive director of the Pride Community Center. "It’s still a concern. HIV-AIDS was a pivotal moment in the LGBT community and our history. With October being LGBTQ history month, it is appropriate that we talk about this sort of thing.”

Through this performance, Wise hopes that people will experience greater understanding and empathy for those affected by AIDS and that they’ll learn something that impacts their future.

“I’m so excited to be working with the students," Wise commented. "It’s always my favorite part of the process, watching them grow, learn about this type of history with the AIDS epidemic and the stigmas that were around back then.”

Shows start Oct. 13 and last through Oct. 16. Tickets can be purchased through the Blinn College website’s box office page: Box Office | Blinn College