This semester, the Florida Southern College Festival of Fine Arts will feature ‘RENT’, a rock musical about struggling artists in New York City.

The musical touches on different topics that are important in today’s time. Most of the characters are struggling with a health problem, such as HIV.

Dion Spires and Kyle Kniseley play roommates Mark and Roger. Mark is a struggling filmmaker who documents his friends lives throughout the musical. Roger is a musician who had recently been diagnosed with HIV and lost his girlfriend to suicide.

To get a deeper understanding of what the characters lives were like, Spires, Kniseley and the rest of the cast did a talkback with the Florida Southern nurses about what life would be like living with HIV.

“My character [Roger] has HIV and I asked questions to the nurse about what it was like psychologically for someone who was diagnosed with it back then,” Kniseley said. “Back then, being diagnosed with HIV was like a death sentence. I wanted to know how people reacted to that.”

“For Mark, I think it was important to kind-of understand that even though I don’t have to portray that I was kind of the one witnessing it,” Spires said.

It is both Spires and Kniseley’s first time preforming with the theatre department. Kniseley is a freshmen musical theatre major and Spires is a senior communication major.

Spires says that Mark was his dream role and was welcomed by the entire theatre department.

[pullquote]“Mark was the role of a lifetime for me,”[/pullquote] Spires said. “It’s been so much fun, I’m so lucky and grateful that I can come in a be a major role.”

Spires and Kniseley hope that people will get a sense of what it’s like to be struggling with the topics touched upon in ‘RENT’.

“I would hope that they could get a new perspective on people who are struggling, whether it be a struggling artist or struggling with HIV,” Spires said.

They also hope that they can captivate the audience and have them feel the emotion that is supposed to be felt when seeing the show.

“With every show, you want to make it as real as you can, and it has to feel new to you [the audience],” Kniseley said.

“Everyone is going all out,” Spires said. “It’s craziness, it’s madness, it’s chaos, but it’s the best kind of chaos.”

They both agree that there is a certain theme throughout the show- ‘no day but today’.

“The main theme or moral you’re supposed to take from the musical in my opinion is ‘No day but today’, which is said a lot in the show,” Kniseley said. “No matter how bad things are, you still have to live in the moment. You still have to love, still have to care about other people and do good things in the world.”

Rent will be playing at the Buckner Theatre November 13-16 and November 20-23. Tickets are available at the box office located next to the theatre.