Playwright’s assault by HIV positive attacker inspires His Imposing Visage

In March 2008, Rodney Roy was the victim of aggravated sexual assault. His assailant was HIV positive.

Roy spent a month on post-exposure HIV treatment and was then given a clean bill of health. But, he began to question: “what if I would have tested positive?”

“Ultimately, what I wanted to know was, what would I do with my life if my days were numbered? Where would I start?” Roy said. “Desperate for healing, I did what I needed to do to get through this: I made art.”

Roy wrote His Imposing Visage, which is set to preview at Buddies and Bad Times Theatre near Yonge and Carlton on April 12 under his direction. He says he wanted to make this story public by putting his own spin on things to engage and educate the public at the same time.

His Imposing Visage revolves around Roman Carter, a famous photographer that loves to live a very public lifestyle. After he receives his AIDS Dementia Complex diagnosis, Roman retreats to a private cottage in Quebec to enjoy what left of his life before it’s erased by dementia.

“My hope is the play will open a dialogue and get men talking about sexual assault,” Roy said. “Thankfully, I had my play to get me through this horrible ordeal but I still didn’t have anyone to talk to about it.

“The burden is lessened when it is shared and for that reason I hope that my play gets men talking and starts them on the healing journey.”

The play, featuring the music of acclaimed singer/songwriter Micah Barnes, is being hosted by The Organic Theatre Collective (OTC).

Jennifer Carroll, producer and actor in the play, says the group is different from how other theatres operate.

“The OTC is a group of trained and ambitious artists striving to inspire and entertain audiences with thought-provoking, socially relevant and responsible theatre while impelling active environmental change in our industry,” Carroll said. “We focus primarily on the written word to find a thought-provoking and authentic way to present new scripts emphasizing heavily on new Canadian material.”

Theatre productions are difficult to support, she said, and it is crucial that the public and theatre community paves a path so engaging material can be delivered in a performance.

“The survival of theatre depends on new, uncompromising voices, yet in today’s theatre community, those voices are the hardest to hear,” Carroll said. “By offering a platform for young voices to speak off of, The OTC sets itself on the cutting edge of new theatre.”