After performances in Jackson, MS, and Baltimore, MD, it was finally New York City’s turn to play host to “As Much as I Can,” the award-winning, breakthrough immersive experience that echoes the lives and voices of Black gay men affected by HIV in the Southern United States.
“As Much as I Can,” sponsored by ViiV Healthcare and co-created/produced by Harley & Co., made its debut at New York City’s Harlem Parish on May 8. For three weeks, the show played to sold-out crowds, with captivated theatergoers hailing it as “one of the most groundbreaking immersive theater pieces about HIV” and “soul-stirring.”
Developed by and for Black gay men — using key insights from ViiV Healthcare’s ACCELERATE! Initiative — “As Much as I Can” invites audiences into the lives of four men to explore their complex relationships to faith, family, community — and ultimately — themselves. The personal stories showcased through the performance are based on listening sessions in Baltimore, MD, and Jackson, MS, where men shared their experiences in response to two countervailing forces: the promise of the standard of care for HIV treatment and prevention and the disproportionate impact of HIV on Black men — especially gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).
Created as an immersive theater experience, “As Much as I Can” is designed to encourage a shift in the understanding of men living with or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS by elevating their voices in a transformative way. Each performance places the audience in the center of the action, creating an opportunity for the audience to explore the interactions and emotions of the actors firsthand. The immersive experience breaks down the “fourth wall” to the audience to enhance perceptions and inspire action.
ViiV Healthcare brought “As Much as I Can” to New York City because the stories resonate beyond Baltimore and Jackson. “I think the issues of silence, stigma and shame around HIV and sexuality are as relevant in New York City as in Mississippi,” Marc Meachem, ViiV Healthcare's head of External Affairs North America, said to HIV Plus Magazine. “The disparities in HIV health access and outcomes for Black and Brown people in New York City are evidence of this.”
The show’s run may have ended, but fans are already calling for its return. Based on this successful limited run, ViiV Healthcare is exploring options to bring “As Much as I Can” to other US cities so people around the country can hear these powerful stories and help bring about change for those affected by HIV in their communities.
Read what others are saying about “As Much as I Can”:
5 New Must-See Queer Plays In NYC – Logo, New Now Next
Immersive Project About HIV Comes To NYC – Plus Magazine
As Much As I Can – YesBroadway
New Theatrical play, As Much As I Can discussing HIV/AIDS Awareness with Emil Wilbekin and Marc Meachem – Sway’s Universe, SiriusXM