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Theatre Of Life – HIV/AIDS In “Sidewalk Symposium”, June 14-15, 2008, New York

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Caribbean Cultural Theatre takes on HIV/AIDS in “Sidewalk Symposium”

The Brooklyn, NY based performing arts company, Caribbean Cultural Theatre, deals head-on with the thorny issues of HIV/AIDS, sexuality and stigmatization on stage and in the streets.  The company hosts two free public forums to look at the challenges of dealing with HIV in the communities of Central Brooklyn on Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15 under the theme HIV/AIDS: Brooklyn the center of the Hurricane?
The “Sidewalk Symposium” series, pulls together healthcare professionals, information specialists, public policy makers, HIV/AIDS support practitioners, and persons infected and affected by the disease.  These sessions will provide information and frank discussions on such issues as the spread of the disease and its impact on the communities of Central Brooklyn, strategies for prevention and information dissemination, and support for those infected and affected.
The “Sidewalk Symposium” is part of the Caribbean Cultural Theatre’s observation of Caribbean American Heritage Month, and ties into their production of Godfrey Sealy’s One of Our Sons is Missing, which deals with the topics of HIV/AIDS and sexuality in the Caribbean.
“We made the deliberate decision to do something other than the broad skirt and straw hat representation of life in the Caribbean,” said E Wayne McDonald Artistic Director of the Caribbean Cultural Theatre.  “Nostalgia certainly has its place, but heritage, culture and legacy is impacted by current realities.  And the harsh realities associated with the spread HIV/AIDS throughout the Caribbean region and the communities we now call home in the United States are ignored at our peril.”
The sessions produced with the assistance of Kings County Hospital Center, with media support from Zync TV are on: 
Friday, June 14 at 4 – 6pm
Flatbush Junction (corner Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues)
Presented in association with the Office of State Senator Kevin Parker
Saturday, June 15 at 2 – 4pm
Flatbush Branch – Brooklyn Public Library
Linden Boulevard (between Flatbush and Bedford Avenues)
Presented in association with the Caribbean Literary & Cultural Center – Brooklyn Public Library and the Office of Councilmember Mathieu Eugene

According to United Nations AIDS Agency, with almost a quarter million people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), the Caribbean has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, after sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for close to 11,000 dead in 2007. This staggering statistic is mirrored in “Caribbean city” throughout the United States. The New York City Department Health estimates Blacks account for 45% of the approximately 163,000 New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS infection.  Not surprisingly, these stark realities affect many of the communities Caribbean immigrant families call home: Jamaica 0.9% PLWHA, E. Flatbush – Flatbush 1.3%, Bedford Stuyvesant – Crown Ht 1.9%; East Harlem 2.7%.
At once provocative and engaging Godfrey Sealy’s award winning One of Our Sons is Missing is an exposé into the life a Caribbean family as they are forced to confront dark secrets, prejudices, and fear when the threat, and reality, of HIV/AIDS invades their world.  Since opening in the early 1989, this groundbreaking work has not only played to rave reviews throughout the Caribbean and the United Kingdom, but has also served as a window onto impact of arguably the most challenging health concern of modern times.
The New York premiere takes place at the Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts,  Long Island University – Brooklyn Campus, 1 University Plaza (corner DeKalb Ave & Flatbush Ave Extension).  Performances are on Thursday, June 19, Friday, June 20 and Saturday, June 21 at 8pm.  The pan-Caribbean cast features Guyanese-American, David King; Natasha Murray (Antigua); veteran Jamaicans actors Dianne Dixon and Glen Morrison; along with Sheldon Barnes (Jamaica), Trinidadians Marvin Gordon and Susan Olton-Kennedy, Winston Yarde (Guyana) and Tomy Desvignes (Venezuela).


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Written by Staff Writer