In 2018, I was commissioned to write and perform my first solo-show at Waterside Arts in Sale.
First Time is a show that charts my experiences living with HIV after contracting the virus from my first ever sexual encounter, aged just 16.
Now 31, I lived in relative silence and shame about my diagnosis until a mental breakdown in 2017, prompted me to tell my family and friends and go public... very public.
Alongside the performances, workshops and exhibitions we presented in late 2018, my story was also told by the UK's media in the run up to the 30th ever World AIDS Day on 1 December... but don't just take my word for it, google 'Nathaniel Hall' and see for yourself!
I was humbled by the response to both the press interviews and the show itself, receiving hundreds of messages of thanks and support from across the world via social media.
It was then that I realised, coming out as HIV+ is still viewed as a radical act.
And we want to change that.
HIV healthcare and prevention has changed, but people's attitudes still lag behind.
HIV is treatable, people on effective treatment cannot pass on the virus and last year, the U.K. became the first western nation to meet the UN's targets on reducing infections. (1)
Cities across the U.K. are also signing up to become HIV Fast Track cities - committing to reducing new infections to zero by 2030. (2)
And with the introduction of PrEP, more people on effective treatment and better HIV health campaigns, leading charities believe that we now have the tools to end HIV in a generation. (3)
But through our work with HIV charities, we know there are thousands of people across the country who still live in fear of people finding our their HIV status.
Stigmatising headlines are not uncommon, and they add fuel to the fire that people with HIV are a danger to others and contribute to a culture of fear that stops people from getting tested regularly.
Through First Time, we want to educate, destigmatise and empower, in turn contributing the aim of ending HIV in a generation.
Imagine that... a world without HIV.
And it's achievable, but only if we begin to normalise the conversation about the disease.
Audiences have already told us that First Time taught them things they didn't know about modern HIV treatment and prevention describing the show as: 'eye-opening', 'educational', 'joyous' and 'stigma-smashing'.
And the critics agreed describing the show as: 'truly remarkable', 'delightful and devastating in equal measure', 'a swan song for the stigma of the past', 'genuinely inspiring - a true statement of hope' and 'universal and deeply moving.'
So what are we asking for?
We're taking the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year - the venue is booked, the PR campaign is in motion, the re-rehearsal is about to begin.
But we have a shortfall in our funding.
We need £6000 more to ensure the show's success at Edinburgh and to give it the best possible chance of securing a successful future touring the U.K. and spreading the key messages that we so urgently need to get out to people.
The money you donate will go directly to helping us achieve that aim.
- £4500 will allow us to redevelop the show into a tour-ready piece and ensure all cast, creatives and crew are paid a fair wage for their work (Independent Theatre Council Rates of Pay).
- A further £1000 will allow us to make First Time more accessible to by offering a range of discounted tickets to people in Edinburgh as well as providing a BSL Signed Performance.
- And £500 will allow us to develop our partnership with Edinburgh-based HIV charities and offer creative workshops, talks and other activities during the festival, adding further impact to our educational work.
What we'll give you in return...
£10 - a personalised thank you on social media
£20 - same as £10, plus a First Time badge and thank you sent in the post
£50 - same as £20, plus a signed A4 poster and other First Time merchandise sent in the post
£100 - same as £50, plus entry into a prize draw to win 2 tickets to see the show during the month of August in Edinburgh (10 tickets up for grabs)
£1500 - a bespoke First Time performance experience for you and an audience you wish to invite (subject to conditions and touring schedule)