The 2019 Academy AIDS Benefit

September 27, 2019

Few things make me prouder to be a part of the Academy family than our annual AIDS Benefit. Founded by alum Justin Tranter more than two decades ago, the AIDS Benefit has been student-run ever since: passed down from director to assistant director in an unbroken chain since its founding. It’s one of our most important traditions — a “homecoming” of sorts for a community that, instead of sports and dances, celebrates the power of the arts to create community, bring joy, and change lives.

This year, director Grania McKirdie (Theatre, ’20) and her team attracted the attention of news organizations across the city (including WGN, Block Club Chicago, The Beverly Review, and WBBM Newsradio). And, mayor Lori Lightfoot sent Grania and her team a letter of commendation and best wishes.

The attention was well deserved, not only because the purpose of the event, but of the excellent work it showcased. From Isaiah Day’s beautiful tribute to Mary Caraway, to the perennial inclusion of the hilarious “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and “Cell Block Tango,” to the pieces showcasing students’ virtuosity, to the pieces showcasing students taking on challenges outside of their major, the performance represented excellence as deeply as the event represented purpose.

On behalf of the entire community, I congratulate all involved in another successful AIDS Benefit. Terrific work, friends.

Reading List

Jason Patera’s TEDx Talk “Life at the Intersection of Excellence, Purpose, and Passion”