Director Nicholas-Martin Kearney participated in support groups for a year and a half listening to the stories of area victims of the disease. Kearney himself said he has had numerous friends and partners die of the disease. The play’s characters consist of five women and three men who are composites of real people Kearney encountered during his research/therapy and who represent a cross-section of people in the Reno area. Kearney and co-writer Stacey Spain then set the characters against the backdrop of a project to create a quilt memorializing people in the area who have died of AIDS and their interaction slowly reveals each character’s personal connection to the disease.
“There’s a lot of grit in this play,” Kearney said during a break from final rehearsal on Wednesday. “There’s a meth user, a prostitute, a pill-poppin’ mama ....”
This weekend’s production is the third version of “A Life Worth Living” — the first two being performed in July 2007 and on World AIDS Day in December 2007. In this third version, Kearney said the goal was to take the play to the next level of creativity for presentation during Artown.
In conjunction with the play a charity art show is being held with pieces on display in the lobby of the TMCC theater. Seven Washoe County-based artists have created 11 paintings with the theme that correspond to the title of the play. Each will be critiqued by a panel of judges and the top piece will receive a $300 cash prize and a night of box service at Club 210 in downtown Reno, courtesy of Stremmel Gallery. Each painting is also for sale, and 10 percent of the sales go to A Rainbow Place, a local support organization for persons with HIV and AIDS.
This weekend’s performances of “A Life Worth Living” will be tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door. Net proceeds from ticket sales also go to A Rainbow Place. The TMCC theater is located at 505 Keystone Ave. in Reno in the Save-Mart shopping center.