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Students to perform AIDS play after all

by Gail Marsh


(May 14) Some area high school students will get the chance to perform in a controversial play about the AIDS virus, a play that local high school officials would not allow students to put on this spring because of its content.

Twelve students from Robert C. Byrd High School and one student from Doddridge County High School will be presenting the play, "Going Toward the Light," at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday at the West Virginia Center for the Choral Arts (formerly Holy Rosary Catholic Church), 508 E. Pike St.

RCB sophomore Alisha Heimbuch received permission from the Choral Arts Foundation to use the building for the production. Heimbuch was part of the original group of students who were discouraged from doing the play.

"First of all, I think censorship in any form is wrong. And we've heard from many people who think that it's important to get this message out," she said.

Students at RCB ran into opposition from faculty earlier in the year when they wanted to perform the play as a high school production. Though some of the dialogue was toned down, there were still questions from the administration about the appropriateness of the play.

Lisa Mosca, the RCB drama teacher, decided to drop the play at that time, noting that the department had a full schedule and students were concentrating on other things. She has agreed to direct the current production on her own time.

"I think the play is valid and has an extremely important message. I hope it will help to clear up some of the misconceptions about the disease," she said.

"Going Toward the Light" was written by a senior acting group at a Lynchburg, Va., high school. It has no props or sets, but uses various characters to warn students about the dangers of AIDS. The 1991 play tries to dispel myths about who contracts the disease and discusses the best prevention methods.

Gear Rollin, assistant principal for administrative services at RCB, said the play can be a good chance for students to get additional experience in the arts.

"Just as athletes or others in the arts are given opportunities to participate in community functions, this is another avenue for these students to pursue their talents and interests," he said.

Admission to the play is $3, with proceeds to be donated to Caritas House, a local organization that helps people with AIDS and works to inform the community. The organizers say families are welcome, but they strongly recommend that parents discuss AIDS issues with their children prior to viewing the play.

Heimbuch admits that some of the play's content is controversial, but she doesn't expect any problems from the audience.

"I believe the people who will be coming to see the performance aren't the ones who are going to be upset," Heimbuch said.

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