Unzipping HIV/AIDS On Stage

A community theater by youths to address HIV/AIDS

Raising Awareness about HIV/AIDS through Theatre

First AIDS Kit, a project that raises awareness about HIV/AIDS, has taken an initiative to talk about HIV/AIDS and sex openly and artistically through theater. Aptly named ‘Unzip’, the theater took place at the Alpha Theater, Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas on July 4 and the Experimental Theater, Taylor’s University on July 6.

UNZIP which aims to address the stigma, and break the stereotypes of HIV, has attracted a good number since its premiere on June 15 at Taylor’s Lakeside, garnering a crowd of over a hundred - attended even by people living with HIV. “The actors,” said Philipp Gan, the career counsellor of Taylor’s University, “portrayed these characters with so much sensitivity and feeling that I had to remind myself a few times that these were just students, talented students, and not professional theater performers.” He goes on to say how “truly inspiring” it was to see “a sensitive topic in society treated with much respect and understanding by everyone.” Andrew Tan, President of Malaysian Positive Network, a support organization for HIV positive people, also mentioned that: “ It was very real and moving. They managed to touch on the questions of fear, confusion, anger, and stress that so many so many people living with HIV face(PLHIV).” Entrance to the performance is by a minimum donation of RM5. The proceeds will be donated to PT Foundation.

From the Horses' Mouth

“I wanted to start this project because a lot of people don’t know a lot about the basics of HIV. And I’ve always wanted to see what would happen if theater and a social cause were to meet,” said Ng Hui Xin, the producer for ‘Unzip’. She is also a first year student at American Degree Program. While Hui Xin took on a more educational approach, David Chia, the director for ‘Unzip’, however, takes on a more socialist approach. When asked why ‘Unzip’, the nineteen-year old director majoring in Philosophy and Theater Arts answered, “I like the theme ‘Unzip’ for its strong connotations. I like the idea of HIV beginning with the unzipping of the trousers, and ends with the unzipping of the mouth.” He further adds that “HIV isn’t just a disease, but it’s a whole ideology that is filled with stigma and stereotypes.” “I want to break stereotypes. I want to stop stigma. And I think theater is the best way to do that. If done well, theater changes a person’s mindset in a matter of minutes.” He adds that, “the very day HIV doesn’t have a label ‘dirty’, ‘gay’, or ‘bad’ on it, is the very day the disease is cured.”

First AIDS Kit

First AIDS Kit is a project that raises awareness about HIV/AIDS which was founded in 2010 during Microsoft Asia-Pacific's Innovative Students Forum. The project was awarded a microgrant for start up and received subsequent funding from a Malaysian youth trust foundation, Myharapan.