Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner ( Angels in America ) was the keynote speaker at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago's ( AFC's ) annual spring dinner, "An Angel Among Us: An Evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Tony Kushner."
The event took place March 27 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. Among other highlights, Lisa Henry-Reid and Gary Metzner received the Civic Leadership Award and the Lori Kaufman Volunteer of the Year Award, respectively.
On a related note, Kushner's Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches and Part 2: Perestroika will run through June 3 at the Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. Call 773-753-4472 or visit www.CourtTheatre.org .
Photos for Windy City Times by Kat Fitzgerald ( MysticImagesPhotography.com )
From an April 4, 2012, AIDS Foundation News Release
An angel among us: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner helps raise $100,000 at AIDS Foundation of Chicago Spring Dinner
CHICAGO — With poignant honesty and razor-sharp humor, renowned playwright Tony Kushner, author ofAngels in America, shared his insight and perspective on the evolution of the AIDS epidemic as the guest of honor at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ) 's annual Spring Dinner An Angel Among Us: An Evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Tony Kushner on Tuesday, March 27 at the Hilton Chicago.
More than 450 guests attended the annual event, which raised $100,000 dollars for HIV/AIDS awareness, education and policy programs.
During an informal question and answer session moderated by Charles Newell, longtime artistic director for the Court Theatre, Kushner acknowledged that treatment for HIV/AIDS has advanced since the early days of the epidemic and a diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. However, with millions of new infections each year, the situation is still grave; and the biggest roadblock to stamping out the disease is apathy.
"The most important part of HIV prevention today is to stop the world from forgetting about it," said Kushner.
Kushner's groundbreaking play, Angels in America, is an entertaining and enlightening portrayal of the AIDS epidemic and has earned him a collection of accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize. The play chronicles the lives of two couples affected by AIDS during the 1980s and struggling to come to terms with the diagnoses at a time of callous social policies and no options for treatment.
"Theatre has an enormous power," said Kushner. "People need a collective place to breathe and reflect. Angelswas and is a place for people to come together and say: We've been through a war. Now, we can begin to heal."
Since the first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in 1981, AFC's mission has evolved from sustaining HIV-infected individuals to enriching their lives and the community. Its mission now includes reducing the stigma associated with those identified as HIV-positive as well as encouraging those who may be infected with HIV to seek testing and treatment.
"The return of Angels provides us with an opportunity to look back on the growth of AFC and the fight against AIDS." said AFC President and CEO David Ernesto Munar. "It also encourages us to look forward to where might be in the future if we don't remove the stigma of the disease and make the necessary policy changes to give those who are diagnosed access to treatment."
Angels in America is performing at the Court Theatre now through June 3. Theatre-goers who order tickets online at www.CourtTheatre.org using the promotional code "ANGELS10AFC" will have a portion of their ticket proceeds donated to AFC.
Other honorees at the spring dinner included long-time AFC board member and River North resident Gary Metzner, who was awarded AFC's Lori Kaufman Volunteer of the Year Award, and South Loop resident Dr. Lisa Henry-Reid, who was recognized with AFC's inaugural Civic Leadership Award for her trailblazing work to improve the lives of young people living with HIV/AIDS.
Sponsors of the Spring Dinner included: BMO Harris Bank; McDonald's; American Airlines; BBJ Linen; BellLitho Inc.; Hilton Chicago; Kehoe Designs; Wilde Bar & Restaurant; and Lady Gregory's. Media partners included Best Gay Chicago; GRAB Magazine; TimeOut Chicago; Windy City Media Group; andChicagoPride.com .
About the AIDS Foundation of Chicago
Founded by community activists and physicians in 1985, AFC is a catalyst for local, national, and international action on HIV/AIDS. Learn more at: aidschicago.org