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Herpes Play #1 Draft.jpg

This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program Individual Artist Commission, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by CNY Arts. Individual Artist Commissions support the creation of new work with exceptional community involvement in the creative process. 


The Herpes Play is a contemporary theatre work written and created by herpes-positive artist Maya June Dwyer. Through a blend of dialogue, movement, and sound, the piece takes an honest look at (and aims to smash) the silent cultural stigma around an extremely common, wildly misrepresented, and highly stigmatized chronic STI: herpes simpex virus.

The play tells the story of an unsuspecting young person who contracts HSV. Through traditional dialogue-based scenes, and abstract transitional moments of movement and sound, The Herpes Play recreates a shifting collection of memories from the process of accepting a chronic STD diagnosis, leading us through a bittersweet and sometimes sardonic exploration of how America interacts publically and privately with sexual health. 

The Herpes Play is being developed alongside a series of private support groups for herpes positive people, as well as public community dialogue nights around chronic STIs. Readings of scenes and a first semi-staged workshop took place in 2019.

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