Cast pictured above:  Kevin Jenness, Dale Gruber, Ryan Smith, 
Irene Borger (Workshop creator & book editor), Glen Howard, 
Michael Osowski, Brendon Rogers.

THANK YOU to all involved in making our production of  "From a Burning House" a resounding success!

Thank you to our appreciative audiences who helped us raise over $2,000 for The Hope & Help Center's efforts to provide services for people with AIDS/HIV in Lake County.

Thank you to our business supporters, including Walgreens in Leesburg, CaringPlus Homecare, which offers services to people all over Lake County, Pisces Rising in Mount Dora and Wine Cellars Uncorked in Eustis.

Special thanks to our host, The Bay Street Players Historic State Theatre in Eustis. You truly reflect the meaning of community theater.

Extra-special thanks to Workshop Project creator and book editor Irene Borger for flying in from Los Angeles to share this memorable theatrical experience with our team and audiences.

And thanks most of all to our remarkable, dedicated, talented cast and team of production volunteers.

Production staff included Bill Opperman, Bill Sievert, Charles Schormann (Director) and Bob Dumais (Executive Producer).

Other volunteers not pictured included Rick Bridges, Greg McKenzie and Jamie Simpson, with special thanks to the efforts of Sally & June Sellers, Allie & Lu and their LOL friends.

Poignant and sometimes humorous, the themes explored in these stories written by people struggling against time in the early years of the AIDS epidemic are universal: love, fear, friendship, loss. But these inspired writings, which resulted in a hit book and Grammy-nominated recording, possess a unique quality as they describe a world on fire — a world where lives are quickened by the reality of AIDS.


“From a Burning House: The AIDS Project Los Angeles Workshop Collection” received rave reviews fromcoast to coast when the book of stories by people with AIDS was published in 1996, and the subsequent star-studded spoken-word recording was nominated for a Grammy award. Now, a live stage presentation of stories from the collection had the Florida theatrical premiere at the Bay Street Players’ Historic State Theatre in Eustis on Saturday Oct. 22 and Sunday Oct. 23, 2011.

 A live stage presentation of stories from the collection had its theatrical premiere at the Bay Street Players’ Historic State Theatre in Eustis on Saturday Oct. 22 and Sunday Oct. 23.  Both performances were fundraisers for the Hope & Help Center, Central Florida’s largest service organization for people with AIDS, with all net proceeds going to the group to expand its programs in Lake County. 

The production was sponsored by The Triangle Connection, Inc., northern Lake County’s non-profit social and service organization for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people, in cooperation with The Bay Street Players provided the venue and technical assistance.

The program featured staged readings from approximately 20 of the nearly 90 stories featured in the book, which was edited by Irene Borger, who founded the Writers Workshop at the AIDS Project Los Angeles in 1990. Borger appeared at both the Saturday and Sunday performances and took questions from the audience. 

An author/journalist who has been published in national publications ranging from Vogue to The New York Times, Borger is currently director of the Alpert Award in the Arts, where she oversees the giving of five annual $75,000 grants to outstanding artists working nationally in dance, film/video, music, theater and the visual arts. Her conversations with 19 of these artists are the subject of her book, “The Force of Curiosity.”

During her tenure with the AIDS Project Los Angeles Borger offered writing workshops for dozens of people with HIV or full-blown AIDS, as well as a workshop for their caregivers. Many of these people had been diagnosed during the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s when it was little known and often referred to as a “plague.”
Yet the stories they penned were anything but morose. As Borger put it in the introduction to the book, they wrote about “everything from arousal, lime green high heels, plutonium, and the theater to, yes, morphine, warts and hospices.” The most “infectious” thing about their situation, she recalled, is “laughter.”

In its rave review, The Los Angeles Times described the stories as “humorous, sad, celebratory – the kind you never forget – about what it means to be human under great duress.” And The Library Journal said, “Here are descriptions of illness and death, anguished and baffled cries of despair, and razor-sharp resentment. Most intriguing of all ... is the frequent presence of humor amid all this suffering. AIDS humor defies analogy; how does one describe a literary form where heartbreak finds its most vivid and noble expression in raucous laughter?”

According to the local theatrical production’s executive producer Bob Dumais, “The stories we’ll be doing reflect the resilience of the human spirit, the funny moments as well as the tough truth that these peoples’ lives have been quickened by the reality of AIDS.” The production is directed by The Triangle Connection’s Charles Schormann. Dumais says that one of the reasons he wanted to produce the show is to make younger people “understand and appreciate the dangers of HIV transmission. You should never think you’re invulnerable. I also want younger gay kids to remember the history of a generation. For gay people, the AIDS epidemic has been a holocaust; it is a time we must never forget".

Home & Help Center

Hope & Help Center, since 1988, has provided comprehensive support in Central Florida for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. It offers a full range of care services, as well as education and prevention initiatives that save lives, refute the stigma and offer hope to all those touched by the disease. It has eight locations – including a food pantry – in Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola Counties. (More info:     

A Thank You Letter

Bob Dumais, producer of "From a Burning House," shares this letter from Maggie King on behalf of Hope and Help:

Dear Bob and The Triangle Connection:

Words cannot express my sincere gratitude for making From a Burning House a touching and successful reality.  Your hard work made this stunning event one we will never forget!The dedication of volunteers like you is the heartbeat of our agency. You bring passion, devotion and inspiration to us every single day.  The more than $2,300 you raised will provide critical medical case management and prevention services to our Lake County neighbors. Your ongoing commitment to end HIV/AIDS inspires us to keep working hard.  As awareness declines and funding becomes more of a challenge to secure, we need your help more than ever.  You help us continue to ensure that services are available, especially to the most vulnerable.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and clients we serve, thank you for your time, your energy, and the spirit you pour into the Hope and Help Center every single day.  You have truly made a difference, and until there is a cure, I hope you will continue to stand by our side.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.

Maggie King, Development Director
Hope and Help Center