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Play tackles complex HIV issues

I must confess.

From the very beginning I was drawn to the idea of staging Simone’s Place, a play commissioned by the National AIDS Programme (NAP) and which touches on issues that stoutly challenge our commitment to an HIV-free generation by the year 2018. The script was compelling, and I could actually visualize its dramatic effect.

Indeed, over the past few years a number of plays have been mounted in Barbados that attest to the fact that theatre, if properly used and especially if there is opportunity for interaction, can be a very powerful tool in behavioural change and transmitting information on HIV.

After attending a reading of the play, however, I was even more convinced of the tremendous impact that this play could have in our HIV prevention strategies. Though humorous in parts, it courageously grapples with complex issues of which we may be in denial and encourages full national conversation.

With the same uncanny insight he has displayed in earlier works, Glenville Lovell in Simone’s Place takes us on an emotional  journey though experiences of a set of characters facing their own demons and each in some way sidelined, stigmatized and discriminated against in society. Yet, if we allow ourselves to admit, there is ironically something in each character with which we can all identify.

In a very non-invasive way and through multiple theatrical devices, this play leads us to acceptance that while we often focus on our differences there are more ways in which we are simply all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to be loved, we all want to be heard and we all want to be treated with dignity and respect. What is more, we  are all expected to love each other as ourselves.

This première staging of Simone’s Place, sensitively directed by Russell Watson, executed by a cadre of talented actors and targeting all adults in our society, is definitely a production of utmost compassion and undeniable truths.

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Jacqueline Wiltshire Gay, director of the National HIV/AIDS Commission.


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