Quilt themes universal as show brings life situations to the stage
A show that confronts ill health and terminal illness and the compassion and emotions it generates in people’s lives, is being presented in Palmerston North for the first time next month.
While Quilt is a musical celebration about living and dying with AIDS, its themes are far broader than the epidemic that’s confronted the world.
Manawatu Theatre Society’s Quilt, to be staged in Globe Two from February 11-27, resonates with many people caught up in a family crisis when a member suffers a serious, life-threatening illness.
Director Andrea Maxwell says the message of Quilt could be about anyone facing an illness and uncertain future.
They are captured by a kaleidoscope of emotions from humour and anger to denial and remorse.
‘‘The characters respond from delirious reality where they laugh everything off to their struggle to face their symptoms and everything in between,’’ Andrea says.
‘‘Quilt relates to so much more than AIDS. It shows the journey of people through illness and the range of emotions and reactions they, and their loved ones, face.’’
The title comes from the AIDS Memorial Quilt created in the United States several years ago.
Its patchwork of panels celebrates the memory of a friend or family member who has died from the condition.
Each panel produces a story told by an individual suffering from or affected by the condition. Two main characters link the monologues and songs together, supported by powerful cameos from cast members baring their souls to each other and the audience.
Wes (Damian Thorne) writes to his friend Philip, who has recently died, welcoming him to eternity. Wes visits the Quilting Workshop and starts crafting his panel as a means of communicating with Philip. Karen (Jo Sale) is drawn to the workshop and feels the need to make a panel in memory of Dr Tedd, her ‘‘official date’’, who died of AIDS. She prepares the panel and helps at the centre as a means of saying goodbye to him.
Their experiences are interspersed by the stories and journeys of others. The strong lineup includes Wendy Newth, Douglas Ransom, Laura Signal, Sandra Crosbie, Jude Weavers, Ethan Maxwell (director Andrea’s real life son), and Barbara Shorter (who returns to the stage after recently being struck down with Guillain Barre syndrome). Roger Buchanan is musical director.
Andrea, an experienced performer, moved into directing because of the power and compassion of Quilt.
‘‘It is a gripping production, sad but with an uplifting ending that the audience will appreciate,’’ she says.
Bookings at the Globe Theatre.