Meet the cast of The Normal Heart: Evan Lever
In 2022, State Theatre Company South Australia presents our production of Larry Kramer’s groundbreaking, multi-Tony Award-winning play, The Normal Heart. We’ll be interviewing the cast to chat about the importance of this play in the landscape of modern theatre and for LGBTQI+ communities. Read all the interviews.
We chat to Evan Lever (Merrily We Roll Along) who makes his State Theatre Company South Australia debut in The Normal Heart in the pivotal role of Mickey Marcus.
Pictured: Evan Lever in rehearsals for The Normal Heart
What was your first ever encounter with The Normal Heart?
I think I first read the play 2011 when the Broadway production won the Tony award best revival of a play. I instantly connected with the characters. I had never been exposed to a play where pretty much all the characters were homosexual and all of them so different.
What does this role mean to you?
As a gay actor I have never had the opportunity to play a gay character before. I grew up fearing my homosexuality and learned to hide it by performing ‘straightness’ and conforming a very narrow idea of what it means to be a man, so I wouldn’t expose myself. It becomes a skill and was a way of protecting myself from judgment or ridicule. Whenever I approach playing a straight character I have to access this skill again as well as the fear that people will see through it and perceive me as gay. To play a gay character like Mikey is so freeing because I can commit all of myself to the work without a fear of judgment.
How do you identify with your character? Have you faced any obstacles in your own life similar to those of your character?
I really enjoy Mickey’s sense of humour and the affection he holds for his friends. Personally I identify with his the struggle for self acceptance, and the hopelessness we can feel in the face of the unknown.
The Normal Heart is very much about the power of community – what’s a time where you personally experienced/witnessed the power of community?
Community and the sense of belonging it creates is so important, especially in queer culture. Queerness is not something that is hereditary. We are born with an invisible “difference” that we don’t share with our family, personally I’ve experienced loneliness and isolation in my journey of self acceptance. So I really admired Minus18, an awesome organisation which I wish was around when I was growing up. They create events full of pride, spaces for people to be 100% themselves, where they can connect with the LGBTQIA+ community often for the first time.