Quilt themes uni­ver­sal as show brings life sit­u­a­tions to the stage

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR EVENTS AND ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE -

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.

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