May 7, 2012
The HIV/AIDS awareness play "It's Your Life" is performed at churches, schools, and other venues in Syracuse. It was written by substitute teacher Gloria Clarke as a way to address the growing epidemic in the African-American community.
"It seems every few months I was preparing to take something to a family or helping a family because they were burying a loved one from AIDS," said Clarke, who came up with the idea to write the play in the mid-1990s. "I'm on a mission to educate our youth about HIV and AIDS. Our young people relate to entertainment -- be it drama or music. They will pay attention."
The play's volunteer actors range in age from 10 to 75. Props for the sets are borrowed from local businesses. "We want it to look real," Clarke said of the play's scenes. "It's happening right out here in the streets. We're talking about saving lives. A lot of people don't want to talk about it, but we take it personally."
The Rev. George M. Jones, pastor of Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, where the play was presented on May 4, called the characters memorable. One, "Big Momma" -- played by 75-year-old retired nurse Alice Bell -- addresses the audience after the death of the play's main character. "I want to say to each and every young person in the audience, this could be you," she says.