Panel Discussion:

Rent and the History of the AIDS Crisis

6:00PM Sunday, September 25, 2016

Winspear Lobby - 4th Floor


Free and open to the public.

Location: Skyline Terrace, 4th floor (west side of the Winspear Opera House)

Panelists include:

  • Jalenzski Brown, Empowerment Programs Manager, Resource Center
  • Rev. Dr. Neil Cazares-Thomas, Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Hope
  • Abigail Erickson, Executive Director, Bryan’s House
  • Jason Gillman, MD, Physician, AIDS Arms
  • Don Maison, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, AIDS Services Dallas
  • Steven Pace, MSSW, Executive Director, AIDS Interfaith Network
  • Moderated by Charles Santos, Executive Director of TITAS and co-producer of A Gathering, the large local AIDS fundraiser done here at the Center.

Rent, the iconic rock musical by playwright Jonathan Larson, was largely influenced by his personal experience with the AIDS crisis in the ‘80s and ‘90s. In the years leading up to the musical’s first production, many of Larson’s close friends succumbed to the disease, and he frequently attended support group meetings with his HIV-positive friend, Matthew O’Grady. These experiences helped shape four of Rent’s eight main characters. The musical documents a year in their lives as they struggle with the physical and psychological effects of AIDS and HIV.

Twenty years later, education and treatment options have greatly improved, and the annual number of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. has declined by 19% over the last decade. Still, an estimated 36.7 million people worldwide are living with HIV. With the historical legacy of Rent as a starting point, panelists representing five Dallas-based HIV/AIDS services organizations will discuss topics such as the history of the AIDS crisis, dispelling the myth of AIDS and the evolution of the disease’s public perception, the impact of the disease on minority communities, and the current state of AIDS advocacy in Dallas.

Tickets to the September 25 performance of Rent begin at $25 and can be purchased here, by phone at 214-880-0202 or in person at the AT&T Performing Arts Center Winspear Opera House Box Office at 2403 Flora Street. The Box Office will be open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. seven days a week and before performances.

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