Are You Positive? is a 30-minute HIV and AIDS theatre in education play based on 3 true stories written and directed by LA based Professor Larry Heimgartner and is followed by an interactive Q & A designed for students and young people.
The project delivered by MAD trust, is aimed at secondary school students at key stage 4 and upwards and young adults starting university or drama school. The play deals with how each of the characters are affected by HIV and AIDS, their stories interspersed with facts about HIV and AIDS, this helps to promote a deeper understanding and to help clarify the myths surrounding the virus. It supports young adults in learning how to communicate with a partner regarding sexual health and protection and aims to break the stigma often associated with being open about being HIV positive.
The students’ knowledge of HIV and AIDS is assessed by the completion of a questionnaire before and after the play, to enable the effectiveness of the project to be gauged. All the actors receive HIV training so that they are fully equipped to answer any questions arising from the performance. The performance is suitable for all pupils regardless of sexual orientation, gender or ethnicity.
In their 2014 Report, Public Health England outlined many reasons why education about HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom is still so important:
- Before watching Are You Positive only 49% of students felt they could distinguish between HIV and AIDS – after the performance 92% felt they could.
- Overall, the number of people living with HIV in the UK continues to increase and the number living with undiagnosed HIV remains high.
- Prompt diagnosis remains a priority for heterosexuals living with HIV.
- Early diagnosis of HIV infection enables better treatment outcomes and reduces the risk transmitting the infection to others.
- Being diagnosed late is associated with a tenfold increased risk of death within one year of diagnosis.
- The number of men who have sex with men (MSM) newly diagnosed with HIV continued to rise.
The Trust aims to have at least two groups touring within three years to reach more schools, and to include theatre schools.
SPONSOR THE PROJECT?
MAD Trust funds the Project through donations and its fundraising events and initiatives.
If you would like to discuss corporate sponsorship of the Are You Positive? Project, please contact the MAD Trust office on 0207 231 9719 or email email@example.com
ARRANGE A PERFORMANCE AT YOUR SCHOOL?
If you would like to arrange a performance of Are You Positive? at your school, or discuss the project in more detail, please contact the MAD Trust office on 0207 231 9719 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the cast – Top Left photo
The cast have undertaken several tours covering schools, colleges and Universities in London, Manchester, Yorkshire, Cornwall and Scotland. In 2015, a comprehensive review of the script was undertaken before an Autumn Tour including Cornwall, Yorkshire and Scotland. This was followed by a complete and full assessment of the Autumn Tour to measure its impact, including feedback from lecturers and teaching staff.
Sarah MacKenzie- Project leader and Actress – Lower Left photo
Sarah is a Scottish actress, presenter and writer working and living in London. She graduated from London Metropolitan with her degree in performing arts and has since set up her own theatre company, Mack Made Productions. As well as performing in ‘Are You Positive?’ she is the project leader and is thrilled to be working alongside the Mad Trust on such an important production. Sarah has co-written several plays with Larry Heimgarnter including ‘Love is Love’ about sexual orientation and ‘Find the balance- Equality for all.’ She has performed ‘Find the Balance’ as a one woman show in Mexico, LA, Belize and throughout the UK and has a real passion for theatre that inspires social change. She has experience in theatre and film and has also presented at one of the UK’s biggest music festivals interviewing artists including Emile Sande and The Script. She is eager for the play to continue impacting and educating young adults through the power of theatre. For more information, visit Sarah’s Spotlight page.
Rishi Nair- Actor – Upper Right photo
Rishi Nair is a young up and coming British actor, born and raised in London. After completing his degree in Law, he decided to pursue acting full time. He has been a part of the Are You Positive? Cast for the past four years and has completed several UK and international tours. He is represented by Simon & How Associates and his experience spans theatre, film and TV. After performing ‘Are You Positive?’ and seeing it’s impact on the audience first hand, Rishi has become extremely passionate about the subject it deals with and is honoured to be part of the production. For more information, visit Rishi’s Spotlight page.
Emma Stirling- Actress – Lower Right photo
Since graduating with a degree in Drama from the University of Bristol, Emma has enjoyed working across the performance industry on projects ranging from film and television through to theatre and radio. Emma has been a part of the ‘Are you positive?’ cast for four years and has completed numerous UK, USA tours. She is also an accomplished voice actor having recorded The Lost and Found, a radio drama with Roundhouse Radio, as well as voiceover content for the ongoing monthly podcast, The Bunker. Emma is passionate about honest, dynamic and compelling drama, and having experienced the impact that Are You Positive? has on its audiences, she is thrilled to be a part of such a powerful and vital play. For more information, visit Emma’s Spotlight page
LARRY HEIMGARTNER – Director & Playwright
Professor Larry W Heimgartner is an LA based writer, director and drama professor. He has retired from teaching but continues to write, direct and produce. Over the course of his tenure at LA Harbour College he has written, produced and directed many original theatrical productions, including the one man show Abraham Lincoln, the Broadway musical Grab the Ring: a musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland; and Bigger Than Bubblegum, a musical portrayal of the life and times of the 1970’s pop group The Emotions. In 1981 he was recognised as outstanding teacher by his peers and the community of LA, by the 1990’s he had won outstanding teacher at national level.
The ‘Our World’ project is a series of awareness plays, which include Are You Positive?, they have been performed all over the world including, over 15 states in America, Belize, Denmark, UK and East Africa. In a recent tour in Zanzibar the ministry of education gave a grant to educators to translate Are You Positive? to Swahili to enable them to tour the play to local villages.