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Kennedy Center Denies Politics Over 'Normal Heart'

July 15, 1986|JOE BROWN | Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Playwright Larry Kramer caused more "Heart" trouble over the weekend.

Kramer, outspoken author of the AIDS drama "The Normal Heart," Friday charged that politics caused the Kennedy Center to back off from a possible fall production of the play.

In January, Kramer caused "Heart" murmurs when he pulled the plug on the Studio Theater's projected area premiere of the play because he couldn't have the director he wanted. A flurry of name-calling and phone-slamming ensued between Kramer and Studio Theater Director Joy Zinoman. In February the play was performed in Baltimore.

On Friday, Kramer claimed that the Kennedy Center dropped the show because it was "too controversial" in light of the recent Supreme Court decision that the Constitution does not give consenting adults the right to engage in sodomy.

Kramer's clamor, directed at several other Washington theaters as well, set off backstage denials, led by Kennedy Center Chairman Roger L. Stevens. Kramer said the play was to have been staged by Arvin Brown, director of the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven.

Stevens, who was lunching in Los Angeles with Gregory Peck, said: "I haven't talked to Arvin Brown for God knows how long. I read ("The Normal Heart") some time ago and never thought it was a good play. As for any commitment for the Kennedy Center to do it, we never came close--not even remotely. As far as the Supreme Court decision having anything to do with it, I don't see how that relates to the Kennedy Center at all."

Alan Wasser, general manager of theaters at the Kennedy Center, also denied Kramer's allegations.

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