A PLAY based on interviews about the diverse lives of a group of gay men dealing with HIV and AIDS in the 1980s will come to Brisbane for a one-off performance to commemorate World AIDS Day.

After a successful run at this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival and performances during the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Colette F. Keen’s production The Death of Kings will play to audiences at the Brisbane Powerhouse in November.

The man behind bringing the play north – Queensland Positive People executive director Simon O’Connor – said that the play was an important reminder of how far we have come in Australia.

“Over the past three decades we have made significant gains in the fight against HIV in a relatively short period of time,” he said.

“Undeterred by its challenges, we have continued to tighten our control of HIV and diminish it from being a certain terminal illness into a chronically manageable one for a majority of Australians.”

The Death of Kings is based around a series of interviews from 2012 with establishes the story of a group of gay men and their relationship with HIV and AIDS during its initial outbreak in Australia.

Co-founder of the physical theatre and dance company based in Bathurst, Lingua Franca, and Charles Sturt University graduate Adam Deusien will direct the Brisbane production.

“It’s a big job but such an honour to work on this play,” Deusien said.

“It captures a wealth of vitally important stories from our history, meaning both the gay community and the wider Australian experience. There’s a lot in this work that people who lived it will recognise, and also a lot that needs to be aired to the wider population that may not understand the scope of the tragedy.

“It’s not all tragedy though. There’s a liveliness and hopefulness to these men that demonstrate that typical Aussie spirit of grace facing adversity.”

Veteran theatre actor Greg Iverson’s involvement in the play strikes a personal tone for him, as he was diagnosed with HIV in 1985 and in 1997 was forced to retire from acting due to illness.

He plays the role of elderly statesmen Chorus, who guides the audience through stories and humourous anecdotes of life as a gay man in the 1980s.

The actor finds it to be a “pleasant irony” that the condition largely responsible for his departure from the stage has given him a chance to return after almost 20 years.

Iverson will be joined onstage by actors Mark Dessaix, Sebastian T. J. G. Robinson, Joseph Simons and Tyson Wakely.

The Death of Kings performs at the VISY Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday, November 29, at 7pm as part of World AIDS Day week. Details and tickets: www.brisbanepowerhouse.org/events

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