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Sexual assault survivor Stephen Hart uses theater to heal

Stephen Hart
Courtesy Stephen Hart

The HIV activist is planning to relaunch his acclaimed play, Shadowed Dreamer.

We first met London-based actor, singer, playwright, and HIV activist Stephen Hart when he was named one of Plus’s Most Amazing People of the Year in 2021. For over a decade and a half, Hart has been bravely baring his trauma and truth in his work. In 2009, he created a critically acclaimed off-Broadway show called Shadowed Dreamer, which addressed his living with HIV as a result of a brutal sexual assault four years prior.

“I was drugged and raped, and my world just came tumbling down around me when this happened — but then six months later [when I found out I was HIV-positive], I felt the air leave my body,” Hart shared with Plus in 2021. “Eventually I realized that I had to make my body start breathing again. This took time, but with the help of writing my one-man show…I realized that I had a voice and I had to use it.”

In 2019, Shadowed Dreamer enjoyed a 10-year anniversary revival in New York City and now it’s returning to the stage once again, as Hart is planning a U.K. tour of the show this year.

Since writing Dreamer, the gay artist of color (born in Scotland of British and Puerto Rican descent) has become a beacon of light not only in the theater world but also for sexual assault survivors, those living with HIV, and basically anyone who has ever felt like an outcast.

“It feels crazy that my story is still needed after all these years,” Hart says now, “but it’s also really exciting that I eventually get to do the show that I never imagined me doing here because of shame and stigma.”

The new tour is in its beginning planning stages, so additional funding sponsors, venues, and other support is still needed. If you are interested in supporting Shadowed Dreamer in any way, email

Hart also has a YouTube channel with a popular series called Hart Talks, which he describes as “a place where people can talk, tell their stories, laugh, cry and watch me make a fool of myself from time to time.”

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