A MUSICAL CELEBRATION
An unusual look at an unusual subject, Quilt focuses on the universality of the AIDS epidemic with compassion, humour and anger and celebrates the courage of living and dying in the age of AIDS. A kaleidoscope of the varied emotions contained in stories for, from and about the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, this series of monologues and songs are threaded together by a volunteer's experience while making a quilt panel in memory of a friend.
Few who have seen the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt can ever forget the experience or the powerful emotions evoked by this patchwork of panels celebrating the memory of a friend or family member who has died of this terrible scourge. This series of stories for, from and about the Quilt is threaded together by a volunteer's experience while making a panel in memory of a friend. In monologues and songs that bring the audience through the full range of emotions, “Quilt, A Musical Celebration” commemorates the victims and survivors of this disease and the ones left behind.
“Quilt, A Musical Celebration” is a unique and affecting work dealing with a timely, contemporary subject. Its educational qualities have been embraced by many schools. Minimal band, set and cast requirements and a flexible running order make it perfect for theatres of any size, as well as for benefit or concert performances.
- QUILT is a collage of stories for, from, and about The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the, most powerful piece of spontaneous art ever created. As of the writing of the show the AIDS Quilt incorporates over 43,000 individual panels and is still growing. Each panel measures 3 x 6 feet.
- QUILT examines one 32-panel Block of the Quilt in Song and Story.
- QUILT is primarily about people who have created panels. Its structure is revue-like, with most characters appearing only once. But some characters and stories do recur and develop, giving the piece several simple through-lines.
- QUILT has a cast that is multi-racial and represents ages 12-70. The cast can be large (over 30) or small (13) depending on the abilities of the actors to double and triple in roles as well as budget considerations. The original production had 22 in the cast.
- QUILT is about change. About losses and gains. It looks at AIDS and its surrounding issues from many points of view. It celebrates life in the face of death.
- QUILT is not a documentary. While it is based on real people and real situations, creative licence has been used, and stories and events have been combined, shaped, and altered.
Please note: although performances of the complete musical are royalty bearing, selected segments of Quilt may be performed at AIDS benefits without payment of royalty and with a greatly reduced rental fee. Such benefit performances must be approved and licensed by Josef Weinberger on behalf of MTI. A portion of all royalties from Quilt is donated to various AIDS organisations, including the NAMES Project.
A folded Quilt block is seen. A Reader enters and begins the opening, The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt ceremony - reading names shown on the panels that will be concerned in the show, in order of appearance. As the names are read, lights come up on eight Quilt unfolders dressed in white who perform the unfolding ritual with the Quilt Block.
Wes enters and sits on the floor writing on the edge of a Quilt Block with a magic marker. He writes to his friend, Philip, who has recently died, welcoming him to eternity. He talks of how he initially had to be dragged to Washington to see the Quilt, but leaves happy that he came. Although it has taken a long time, the silence surrounding AIDS has at last been broken.
The Quilt Block goes up in the air. The cast enters. It is now clear that the audience will be meeting the people whose lives (past and present) make up this wonderful Quilt.
WES 1 MAY 1
An alarm goes off and Wes whom we met at the Quilt in the previous scene enters. He looks upward and talks to Philip, his dead lover, and tells him how much he misses him. Wes is also HIV+ and confesses that he has considered killing himself, but that making a memorial panel for Philip has given him a reason to live a while longer. He has also started volunteering at the Gay and Lesbian Centre Quilting Workshop. Although this is fulfilling, he still has a prescription that can end his life and he looks ahead to a time when he can join Philip.
KAREN'S SONG 9:00 a.m.
We see Karen in a bathrobe. She is thirty-five, attractive, intelligent, thin and hyper. She carries two large shopping bags and transfers items meaninglessly from one bag to the other. She is finishing a call on a cordless phone and is finding out that the Gay and Lesbian Centre is open and is offering its Quilting Workshop today - July 4. She plans on going to the centre, but is very nervous since she isn't gay. She realises that she just needs to go. She has all of her fabric and thread to make her panel.
Cordelia Winthrop is a stately and regal 70-year-old woman. She wonders how her granddaughter, Allison, could have died of AIDS, coming from such a fine family background. Cordelia commissioned this Quilt panel for her granddaughter; however, she won't let the family name be put on it.
Vernon Duke, a Southern dirt farmer, wonders how his son, Jeb, could have contracted AIDS living in a small Southern town. A robber at an all-night gas station shot him down and killed him. When he was dying, he asked that his body be given to help others. Unfortunately, those body parts contained HIV.
Maria is a Hispanic woman whose son, Hector, received one of Jeb's kidneys. Hector has since died.
Mrs. Polaski, who comes from a small town in Ohio, thinks that it is all gossip when people say that her son, Christopher, died of AIDS. He died of pneumonia. And his roommate was just a friend!
Mikey and the Back-Up Boyz are dressed in hip clothing, and look and perform like a rap group. Mike is a straight boy who loves his hot sex. His teacher wants him to go on a field trip to see the AIDS Quilt. He has no interest in going, but if he doesn't he'll fail his class, so he decides to go. When he sees the Quilt, he notices a panel that is dedicated to Peggy Parker, the first girl with whom he ever had sex. She moved away two years ago from his town. This terrifies Mike, but he still tries to talk himself out of it, saying that maybe it was a different Peggy Parker. Mike believes that because he is not a drug user or a homosexual he is safe from AIDS.
WES 2 JUNE 25
Wes is at The Quilt Workshop at the Gay and Lesbian Centre talking once again to Philip up above. Today is Gay Pride Day , and Wes is organising things at the Centre while celebrating the 19th anniversary of Judy Garland's death. He thinks back on how life was for all gays before and after Stonewall and how far everyone has come. Wes isn't feeling that well and is going in to have some routine blood tests. He senses that he might be joining Philip soon.
AT A DISTANCE
Paul, a photographer, enters with a camera around his neck. He made a panel for his brother Peter. Paul had a hard time accepting his brother's life-style and only came to terms with it after his death. In an attempt to make amends for time lost, he began volunteering at GMHC as a buddy, providing ongoing support to people with AIDS. The person he supported was Juan Ramirez, an ex-IV drug user. Paul’s life has been changed by this experience.
Todd's lover is discovered sitting on a stool, wearing a sweat shirt with "Todd's Lover" written on it. He is sewing on a Quilt panel. Todd's mother enters, wearing a sweatshirt that reads "Todd's Mother." She moves a stool to the opposite end of the table picking up another Quilt Panel, which she works on. The two remember Todd very fondly. When they finish, they hold up the panels and embrace each other.
KAREN'S SONG 12:00 NOON
The Quilting Workshop at the Gay and Lesbian Centre. Karen's stuff is spread on the table in a disorganised fashion. Though she has calmed down a bit, she is still nervous. She cut her finger while sewing and had to have stitches. She is now using super glue and in her anxious state ends up gluing her hands together.
The Quilt Panel; shows Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. It reads "Peter Brown." Timmy Brown, a short, energetic skater with The Magic Kingdom on Ice in his late '20s, enters and reminisces about his late friend Peter, a fellow skater who played Peter Pan. Peter helped Timmy accept his sexuality, and even though Peter is gone and Timmy misses his best friend, he has learned to go on with his life. Yes, he, too, is HIV+, but he is trying his best to live as long as he can with the best attitude possible.
LIVING WITH THE LITTLE THINGS
The Quilt panel says, "Ralph - Ever the Best of Friends." Stewart appears. He is a neat, precise, and orderly antique dealer in his early 50s. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He talks about Ralph who left him a cat and bird to care for. Even though these animals drive him crazy, he is grateful to have them, for a part of Ralph lives on through his pets.
VICTIM OF AIDS
The Quilt Panel has a top hat, tap shoes, and music in the design. It is slightly tacky and homemade. The name reads "Tommie Dee." Mr. and Mrs. D'Angelo, a very middle class couple in their 40s, appear and talk about their son who moved to New York and appeared on Broadway. He told them he was gay, and they learned to accept both him and his lover Dave. One night they called home to tell Tommie’s parents that they were negative for the AIDS virus and were going out to celebrate. That evening Tommie and Dave were violently attacked by gay bashers. Dave got away and called the police, but Tommie was killed. Beside his body in blood was written: "AIDS FAGS DIE." Tommie became a victim of AIDS in a different way.
COULDJA DO ME A FAVOUR?
The Quilt Panel design is a door. It reads "Daniel G. Morris - 7J - The Boy Next Door." Jane Woodward appears. She is a nurse. Black. Warm. Larger-than-life. She remembers Danny, her neighbour and friend. They both did favours for each other all the time, and when he got AIDS she did more for him than every before. When he was in the hospital near the end, he asked her for one last favour; to smother him. She thought about it, and then looked at the morphine drip. As a registered nurse, she knew what to do, and she did it. She just hopes that Danny is happier now and that he puts in a good word for her.
WES 3 JULY 2
The Quilt Workshop. The calendar says July 2, 1988. It is 10:00 a.m. Wes is not doing well. As he talks to Philip and he tells him how his blood counts are not very good. He feels that the time has come. He takes out some pills and starts putting them in his mouth. Suddenly, sirens shriek and red lights flash. Wes looks up startled.
KAREN'S SONG 3:30 p.m.
Again, at the Quilt Workshop at the Gay and Lesbian Centre, Karen is at a sewing machine. She is now calm. Wes taught her how to sew and everything seems to be going along rather smoothly. She remembers Tedd, a psychiatrist she worked along with at Cabrini Medical Centre after she got her MBA from NYU. He was a handsome man, and she was wild about him. He even asked her out; however, every time he took her home, he kissed her like a sister. When she finally made him dinner at her house and confronted him about his aloofness, he told her that he was gay, but swore her to secrecy. He wasn't very comfortable with his sexuality and didn't want anyone to know the truth. So, Karen became his "official" date. Unfortunately, he didn't let anyone know that he was sick until it was too late. He disappeared to another hospital and Karen didn't see him until he was already in a coma. She loved him for who he was and just wished she could have said good-bye.
I BELIEVE IN YOU
The sound of crickets is heard and a flashlight flashes. A candle is lit. Katy, age 12, is revealed reading a letter she has written to the "Quilt People." Her Uncle Billy was her favourite Uncle. Her parents, however, didn't approve of him and the other man he brought around, Uncle Bruce. Finally, he stopped coming for visits, and he and Katy just wrote letters and cards. Eventually, the letters and cards stopped, too. Her parents told her that he died of AIDS. She saw the Quilt on television and made a panel for Uncle Billy using crayons. In the panel are the words that Uncle Billy wrote to her in a poem. Uncle Billy appears behind her and the two of them share these special words.
The Quilt Panel shows a Hawaiian shirt of tropical flowers. It reads Chris Polaski 1958-1986. Toby enters. He is black and about 28 years old. Toby remembers Chris and how he loved him so. He also talks of how he asked Chris's mother for help with the Quilt, but she refused. She even had everything Chris left to Toby taken away claiming that no dark-skinned roommate has rights to anything of her son's. She is Chris’s family. She even called the Quilt Project and asked that Chris's name be removed from the Quilt. After all, he didn't die from AIDS, and he wasn't gay!
WES 4 - JULY 3
The Quilt Workshop and Wes is working on a panel. Wes is better than he thought. His T-cells are 800 not 80. The doctor made a mistake in reading the report. He talks to Philip and tells him that he will probably be staying down on earth for a while longer. In fact, he has met a younger guy, Timmy, who has been hanging around the Gay and Lesbian Centre. He, too, is HIV+. Wes is learning to trust Timmy and is quite happy.
IN THE ABSENCE OF ANGELS
The Quilt Panel is a child's artwork. It says "My Bri-Bri-Brian. 4 years old." Roberta Andrews steps forward. She is a former actress who was in a few made-for-television movies, but got married and left the business. She is a PWA (Person With AIDS) who received it during a transfusion and passed it on to her child when she gave birth to him. Unfortunately, this has been kept a secret because her husband is an esteemed state politician. She tried to use her connections to reach people of power. She even met President Reagan at the White House. She then decided to tell her story to the press and start The Coalition For Parents and Children With AIDS. She and her husband waited for the fallout, but their coalition became a huge success. Though her son died, what was done in his name has made a difference.
On the Quilt Panel is a business suit, white shirt, and tie. The name is "Michael Frank." Charles enters, dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit. He talks of how all along he denied his sexuality and bought into the conservative corporate system. He hid his relationship with Michael and life seemed perfect until Michael got sick. Then he found out the harsh reality of prejudice. Michael lost his job and eventually died. Now, Charles, has decided to not sit back anymore. He is member of ACT-UP and fights back against discrimination instead of buying into a system that doesn't care.
KAREN'S SONG 10:00 p.m.
We see Karen's finished Quilt Panel. On the top are letters that say "Dr. Tedd." The panel is an attractive mess. She proudly admires her handiwork. She is calm and happy and even thinks that she'll be back next week at the Centre to help out others in need.
WES 5 JULY 4
Wes talks with Philip about Karen saying how she finished her panel without killing herself and others in the process. Wes looks foreword to the day when his panel can be put on the Quilt. In fact, he has already begun work on it and it reads "At Last Over.”
All the characters come together to celebrate what they are capable of as one voice. Together they can and are changing the world.
12-25 men and women
- Wes Cronk
- Cordelia Winthrop
- Vernon Dupace
- Maria Washington
- Mrs. Pauline Polaski
- The Boyz Randy, Dick, Willy
- Todd's Mother
- Todd's Lover
- Timmy Bell
- Mr. d'Angelo
- Mrs. d'Angelo
- Jane Woodward
- Mr. Leonce
- Uncle Billy
- Roberta Andrews
ALSO: Reader, Unfolders, Animal Voices, Act Up Activists, Chorus
- Something Beautiful - Company
- Karen's Song - Karen
- Hot Sex - Mikey, Randy, Dick, Willy
- At A Distance - Paul
- Todd's Song - Todd's Mother, Todd's Lover
- Living With The Little Things - Stewart
- Victim Of AIDS - Mr. & Mrs. D'Angelo
- Couldja Do Me A Favour - Jane
- I Believe In You - Katy, Uncle Billy
- In The Absence Of Angels - Roberta
- Autobiography - Charlie, ACT UP Activists
- One Voice - Wes, Company
- Walter Lee - Donnie, Family
- Robert Knows - Eddie
percussion, 2 keyboards