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Writer and AIDS activist Larry Kramer to explore gay rights issues

February 24, 2006

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Playwright, screenwriter and gay rights activist Larry Kramer will visit Middlebury College to participate in two events on Wednesday and Thursday, March 8-9. Kramer is founder of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), the international AIDS advocacy and protest organization, and co-founder of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the world's largest provider of services to those with AIDS.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m., in Middlebury College's Dana Auditorium in Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125), there will be a screening of the 1969 award-winning film "Women in Love." Kramer, the film's screenwriter, received an Academy Award nomination in 1970 for his work. The film, based on D.H. Lawrence's classic novel, is an exploration of the relationships, personalities and philosophies of two men and two women in the high society of the early 1900s. One man, played by Oliver Reed, is an industrialist, and treats relationships as possessions. Another man, played by Alan Bates, is a school inspector and tries to define love between men and women, and men and men. Glenda Jackson plays a socialite who sees relationships in terms of usage. And Jennie Linden plays the fourth character who sees love as pure and simple, a permanent bond. Following the screening, Kramer will lead a discussion and question and answer session.

On Thursday, March 9, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., also in Dana Auditorium, Kramer will discuss his creative and activist work with a small panel of Middlebury students, faculty and staff. Middlebury College Theatre students will also perform a scene from Kramer's 1985 play "The Normal Heart," about the early years of AIDS.

After graduating from Yale in 1957, Kramer entered the film industry, first at Columbia Pictures and then United Artists. He lived in London from 1961-1970, where he produced and wrote the screenplay for "Women in Love." The film is currently available on DVD with Kramer's commentary.

His play about the early years of AIDS, "The Normal Heart," has been produced all over the world and was named one of the Hundred Best Plays of the Century by Britain's Royal National Theatre. Originally produced by Joseph Papp at his Public Theater in 1985, the play starred a string of accomplished actors in the central role of Ned Weeks including Joel Grey, Richard Dreyfuss, Martin Sheen and Tom Hulce.

"The Destiny of Me," the continuing story of the life of Ned Weeks, ran for one year off Broadway at the Lortel Theater, and was a Pulitzer finalist, double Obie winner, and recipient of the Lortel Award for Best Play of the Year. It is rarely performed, and a 2002 London production received critical acclaim during its brief run there. "Just Say No, A Play about a Farce," is Kramer's 1988 play about how sexual hypocrisy in the Reagan and Koch administrations allowed AIDS to become a plague. It concerns a First Lady, her gay son, and the closeted gay mayor of America's "largest northeastern city." Kramer's 1978 novel, "Faggots," continues to be one of the best selling of all gay novels.

According to Kramer, he is still a number of years away from completing what he hopes will be the work for which he will be remembered, "The American People: A History," now some 3,000 pages long, which he has been working on since 1978.
He is a recipient of the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and he is the first creative artist and the first openly gay person to be honored by a Public Service Award from Common Cause.

On Dec. 21, 2001, Kramer was the 22nd person infected with HIV and hepatitis B to receive a liver transplant, from which he has recovered. Kramer lives in New York and Connecticut with his partner, architect and designer David Webster.

To follow is a schedule of events:

Wednesday, March 8
7 p.m.

Screening of "Women in Love" and Q & A with Larry Kramer
This 1969 film, based on the D.H. Lawrence novel, explores the relationships, personalities and philosophies of two men and two women in the early 1900s. Following the screening, there will be a discussion and Q&A with screenwriter Larry Kramer, who received an Academy Award nomination for his work on the film.
Dana Auditorium in Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125)

Thursday, March 9
7:30 to 9 p.m.
Forum on Political Activism with Larry Kramer
Kramer will discuss his creative and activism work with a small panel of Middlebury students, faculty, and staff. Middlebury College Theater students will also perform of a scene from "The Normal Heart," Kramer's play about the early years of AIDS.
Dana Auditorium in Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125).

For more information about these events, contact Jennifer Herrera in the Office of Institutional Diversity at 802-443-5743 or at