Remembering The Normal Heart
Controversy in Springfield, Missouri

In the fall of 1989, the Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) Theatre Department decided to produce The Normal Heart, an autobiographical play by Larry Kramer about the politics and early stages of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. The Theatre Department wanted to bring AIDS education and awareness to students and the local community.

When a local conservative state legislator read the play and was offended by its content, she organized a large coalition of like-minded individuals calling itself “Citizens Demanding Standards”. Their goal was to stop production of the play or to censor its content.  The University stood firm in its position that stopping the play would violate the Constitutional rights of students and faculty.

The controversy escalated to the national stage as the battle over public funding, morality and free speech culminated in an opening night act of violence that left the community stunned.

Through personal stories and archival news footage this film explores the controversy surrounding the 1989 production and is a sobering reminder that extreme views can incite extreme actions.

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