Kathy Bates, Annette Benning, Anthony Edwards, Giancarlo Esposito, and Phil Hartman will read three short plays from Pieces of the Quilt, a collection of original short plays and monologues by 15 of America's greatest working playwrights, on May 7 at the Actor's Gang Theatre in Hollywood, CA.
The reading will serve as a fund-raiser for future full-blown Los Angeles and San Francisco productions of Pieces of the Quilt a fund-raising show for the healing of AIDS and AIDS patients.
The piece was conceived by San Francisco actor Sean San Jose Blackman, both of whose parents recently died of AIDS. His compulsion to create a healing theatrical piece in his mother's honor caused him to persistently contact various playwrights, asking them to contribute 10-15 minute pieces that would really deal with the subject of AIDS. According to an April 10 interview in the San Francisco Chronicle, Blackman asked the writers to deal with the topic in a very direct, literal way. "Let's not dance anymore," Blackman said, "Let's deal."
The playwrights who chose to 'deal' are Edward Albee, Jon Robin Baitz, Sandra Bernhard, Migdalia Cruz, Maria Irene Fornes, Danny Hoch, David Henry Hwang, Naomi Iizuka, Tony Kushner, Terrence McNally, Ntozake Shange, Roger Guenveur Smith, Octavio Solis, Erin Cressida Wilson and Lanford Wilson.
According to the Chronicle, the pieces began to fit together when Albee, whose Pulitzer Prize -winning Three Tall Women is a tribute to his own mother's death, called Blackman and said yes. Albee reportedly helped colleagues Wilson and McNally come on board. Some panels include Octavio Solis' tribute to a director friend dying of AIDS, Danny Hoch's AIDS clinic blood-test waiting room exchange between a black teenager and a Latino sidekick, and Erica Cressida Wilson's erotic meeting between a gay man and a teenage girl. Kushner's contribution, a dramatic prayer originally written for the 1994 National Day of Prayer for AIDS, is the only piece not specifically created for the project.
After the Los Angeles fund-raiser, pieces of Pieces will be performed as part of San Francisco's Magic Theatre's Fall Season. Parts of the actual AIDS Quilt will be used in the set.
After the funds are raised to produce the shows, The Actor's Gang and the Magic Theatre will donate all proceeds to the ALMA DELFINA GROUP, named after Blackman's Mother, which will distribute all proceeds from the show to the Names Project Foundation, a world wide organization devoted to healing, prevention, and education, and to Project Open Hand, an organization that delivers hot meals and groceries to any person with symptomatic or disabling AIDS or HIV, free of charge.
Tickets to the May 7, Actor's Gang celebrity fundraiser Pieces of the Quilt are $100, and are available through Theatix (213) 466-1767.