Meet the Cast of The Normal Heart: Matt Hyde
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 spoke with Matt Hyde (Eureka Day) about his complex role as the closeted leader of the AIDS awareness organisation in The Normal Heart, Bruce Niles.
Pictured: Matt in rehearsals for The Normal Heart
What was your first ever encounter with The Normal Heart?
When I was a student at drama school, our Acting teacher gave us a monologue to work on from The Normal Heart. He described it as ‘the most harrowing monologue of 20th century drama’. A statement like that certainly got my attention and I’ve never forgotten it. Little did I know I’d be using the same monologue to audition for this production. I read the whole play and was moved to tears and rage and was blown away by the sheer raw emotion on stage.
What does this role mean to you?
The role and the production as a whole means a great deal. As a gay male I feel this is our story, our history; these were real people who lived, breathed, loved and died and we have a duty to honour them. All the characters did trailblazing work that changed the course of history and that allowed me and the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community the rights we have today. Playing the role of Bruce is my way of honouring these incredible individuals.
How do you identify with your character? Have you faced any obstacles in your own life similar to those of your character?
Bruce has the courage to go into battle, to kill and stare death in the face in a war zone yet is absolutely terrified of looking within and accepting who he is as an individual. This extreme sense of denial and fear of rejection by society is something I can identify with as can most queer people. Knowing that you are fundamentally ‘different’ and putting it out there into the world is the very definition of courage especially when there is a very real chance of rejection. The fear, the denial and the courage to be who you make him extremely relatable.
The Normal Heart is very much about the power of community – what’s a time where you personally experienced/witnessed the power of community?
We only have to look at what happened in Oslo recently to see an incredible example of the LGBTQIA+ community coming together. A gunman opened fire at a Pride event killing two people and injuring 21. Despite police warnings Pride protesters held an LGBTQIA+ rally, came together in solidarity with placards reading “You can’t cancel us” and “Sexual Freedom”. The community coming together during tragedy, refusing to be scared, refusing to be silenced is deeply moving and makes me so proud.