‘Normal Heart’ back on Public beat in ’04

Kramer's AIDS drama ran for a year in 1980s

NEW YORK — Nearly 20 years after its world premiere at the Public Theater, “The Normal Heart” will return in February.

First presented in 1985, Larry Kramer’s seminal AIDS drama ran at the Public for a year, the longest continuous run of any play in the theater’s history. Its return will mark the first time the downtown venue has presented a revival of a contempo drama.

In a unique arrangement, the Public is presenting the Worth Street Theater’s production of “The Normal Heart.” Carol R. Fineman, longtime publicist of the Public, is producer at Worth Street, a ground-zero theater company that presents cabarets related to 9/11 and the Iraq war. Its most recent full-production was the Gotham debut of “Four,” by Christopher Shinn.

Fineman’s tenure with the Public began with the first “Normal Heart” production. Its revival will be directed by Worth Street’s artistic director, Jeff Cohen.

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With “The Normal Heart,” Kramer cried out against the lack of response to the AIDS epidemic. Politicians, the media, medical experts and gay health orgs all take a hit in the play. “It is a plague that never need have happened if people had paid as much attention to it in the beginning as they did with SARS,” said Kramer.

Over 600 productions worldwide have been presented of the play. “As the plague continues and goes farther and farther into places you’ve never heard of — that’s where it is being done,” said the playwright.