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THEATER : Design Alliance Hopes AIDS Benefit Shifts Spotlight Away From Gays

August 20, 1992|JAN HERMAN | Jan Herman covers theater for The Times Orange County Edition.

The South Orange County Community Theatre will present Jane Martin's "Talking With," an offbeat collection of 11 women's monologues, and excerpts from William Hoffman's AIDS play "As Is" Saturday to raise funds for the Design Alliance to Combat AIDS.

"We're doing the entire series of monologues even though they're not specifically about AIDS or the HIV virus," said Bart Story, a member of the board of the alliance's Orange County chapter, which is based in Laguna Niguel. The benefit will take place at the theater's Camino Real Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano.

Story said the oblique approach to AIDS is meant to broaden the benefit's appeal and, moreover, to demonstrate that "HIV infection is becoming more and more a woman's issue."

"We want to take the spotlight away from the gay community's affliction with the HIV virus," he said. "The women's monologues in 'Talking With' bring out very broad themes that can be applied to the issue of AIDS and HIV. For instance, one monologue deals with a daughter's grieving after the death of her mother. That's applicable to the sense of loss felt by people affected by HIV."

The subject of AIDS will be confronted more directly with the excerpts from "As Is," which will include a monologue by the hospice worker who narrates the award-winning comedy. Hoffman's play was written in 1985; it captured the beginning and end of an era by freezing the moment in time when the horror of AIDS set in as a social reality. Its wit transmutes despair into gallows humor and dread into pathos.

Chapter president Michael Anthony, whose idea it was to hold the benefit, died on Tuesday of AIDS.

"In the past five months, he (went) from perfectly healthy to being at death's door," said Story, who cared for Anthony during his illness.

The performance is expected to sell out at the 120-seat playhouse. Story said about 90% of the potential gross of $3,000 in box-office receipts will go to the design alliance, an all-volunteer group that distributes money to other AIDS-related service organizations.

What: South Orange County Community Theatre benefit performance of "Talking With" and excerpts from "As Is."

When: Saturday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m.

Where: Camino Real Playhouse, 31766 El Camino Real, San Juan Capistrano.

Whereabouts: From the San Diego (5) Freeway, exit at Ortega Highway, go west to El Camino Real, then turn left. There's free parking behind the playhouse.

Wherewithal: $25 (includes post-performance reception).

Where to Call: (714) 854-0427.

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