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Source: Arthur Vallin / Arthur Vallin

If you’re looking for an informative and unconventional date night idea, the play As Much As I Can might be your glass of vodka tonic, or sparkling water with a twist. The play, which hosted its opening night on Friday, October 6, in Chicago, aims to raise awareness of HIV while eliminating the stigma attached to the disease responsible for affecting Blacks and Latinos at an alarming and disproportionate rate.

I was given two details about As Much As I Can before I attended on opening night; the play would explore the lives of 4 men and their relationship to HIV, and it would be an interactive experience, so I should dress comfortably. Intrigued, I was eager to spend the next 90 minutes understanding the impact of HIV through the eyes of Black storytellers.

As Much As I Can explores the progression of HIV

As Much As I Can was written by Sarah Hall, directed by Logan Vaughn, and presented by HIV and AIDS pharmaceutical company ViiV Healthcare. The play’s overall goal is to control the narrative by removing the stigma attached to the disease responsible for plaguing the 80s and 90s. Back then, an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence. Today, people live long, healthy lives thanks to medications like PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), serving as preventative care for sexually active adults. 


Source: Lyric Newbern / Lyric Newbern (L-R) Ta’Rhonda Jones, TS Madison, Darius Brown, Miss Lawrence, Karrueche Tran

The award-winning play garnered the attention of advocates, allies, a few celebrities, and Chicago residents during its opening night. Actress Karrueche Tran, actress Ta’Rhonda Jones, and TV personality TS Madison were just a few of the names in the building. And while the attendees were worth mentioning, so is the cast.

Miss Lawrence shines as Larry, a performer at Charmed and the glue that holds the establishment together. He is the voice of reason, and the person who witnessed the HIV and AIDS epidemic first hand. Ulric Alfred Taylor plays Marcus, a jovial young man who has a fearless approach to love. Alphonso Walker Jr. plays Delius, a man conflicted with his life choices and how they affect his community. And Christopher Livingston plays George, a melancholy man who struggles to face his new reality.


Source: Arthur Vallin / Arthur Vallin

As the four gentlemen navigate their everyday lives, we witness the impact a positive HIV diagnosis has on their lives and their community. Some embrace the disease with the understanding that medication makes life possible, and others deal with the lingering stigma attached to the virus. The play shines a light on education and preventative care.

As Much As I Can is an interactive experience

The unique, interactive play invites you to become part of the storyline. Our presence helped paint the picture as we walked from set to set and emerged ourselves into the set design. You could sit at the bar for Larry’s performance, be a fly on the wall during some adult fun, or you could catch the Holy Spirit during a quick praise intermission at church.


Source: Arthur Vallin / Arthur Vallin

I wasn’t sure what to expect with an interactive play. Comfortable shoes are key because you will move from set to set in 5 to 6 minute intervals. To shake the multi-sensory experience up, attendees were divided into two groups, witnessing some rooms in different orders.

We concluded with a brief Q&A segment, breaking down the importance of the play and how it empowers our community.

As Much As I Can will run in Chicago from October 6-22 at the Morgan Arts Center, before heading to Atlanta from November 3-19 at the Georgia Freight Depot. Because Chicago and Atlanta have the highest rates of new HIV infections, the play jumpstarts a much needed conversation on HIV and preventative care methods. With education, we can remove the stigma behind HIV and save lives.

See more from the night below!


Venus Williams Is Helping People Manage Their Mental Health With Free Therapy

Play ‘As Much As I Can’ Aims To Remove The Stigma Behind HIV Diagnoses  was originally published on