As the choreographer and writer of this remarkable performance piece, Stigma, Darren Vizar wanted to create a work with a strong message.
“I created this work because I have lived with HIV and have been stigmatised because of it,’ he said. “I’m sick of it, it’s exhausting and I’m over it.”
But Mr Vizar said stigma is at the heart of every hurt and humiliation in life.
“Whether or not they have been affected by HIV, audiences relate to the general theme of stigma,” he said.
“Stigma is stigma, whether it has derived from being bullied, or because of your, appearance, gender or religion.”
His play also aims to change the narrative that HIV is just a gay virus, and includes stories of heterosexuals.
“I want to help people understand what it’s like to live with this virus, and to humanise the people who have it,” Mr Vizar said.
“The female voice is really strong in this play,” he explains. Women have in fact surpassed men in numbers who live with HIV.
“I’ve had mothers come up to me after the show and say they want to talk to their kids about this when they get home. People have learnt a lot from our play.”
Mr Vizar’s own experience of HIV was a scary one.
“I was initially diagnosed in 1998 when I was living in London. It was just the one time when I had condom-less sex,” he said.
“I suffered from depression and regrets. My father was horrid to me. He told me I wasn’t a man.
“My mum cried.
“In those days, I was stigmatising myself. But the good news is that you can control your thoughts.”
HIV is incurable but managed by a consistant medical regime. The Stigma performance will be followed by a question and answer session with Mr Vizar and members of his theatre company, Devize.
Stigma has been funded and supported by several government agencies including the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health.
Stigma will show on Friday, May 11, 7.30pm. The Engine Room, 58 View Street, Bendigo. Tickets from $18 gotix.com.au