On Oct. 16, Robin Williams, Peter Coyote, Danny Glover, O-Lan Jones, Glynnis O'Connor and Sean San Jose Blackman will read selected short plays from Pieces of the Quilt, a collection of original short plays and monologues by 17 of America's greatest working playwrights, at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco.
The reading will serve as a fund-raiser for the world premiere of Pieces of the Quilt opening the Magic Theatre season, Oct. 17 - Nov. 17. Quilt is a fund raising show for the healing of AIDS and AIDS patients, and is co-produced by Tim Robbins' theatre company, The Actors' Gang, in Los Angeles, which held their own all star benefit reading in May.
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, Philip Kan Gotunda, Naomi Iizuka, Tony Kushner, Craig Lucas, Ntozake Shange, Greg Saris, 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 Albee reportedly helped colleagues Lanford Wilson, and Terrence McNally (who has since withdrawn his piece), come on board.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. Parts of the actual AIDS Quilt will be used in the set.
All proceeds from runs of Quilt will go to the ALMA DELFINA GROUP, named after Blackman's Mother, which will then distribute all proceeds from the show to the NAMES Project, a world wide organization managing the AIDS memorial quilt that is 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.
The Oct. 16 benefit begins at 6:30,with cocktails and a "picnic" in the lobby of the Palace. Dinner will be catered by fancy dining institutions such as Fog City Diner and Grace Street Catering, The performances start at 8:30. A post performance party with dessert features dance band "Pamela Rose and the Sidepockets."
Celebrities and politicians who are on the honorary committee and board are expected to attend. Some include Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Whoopi Goldberg, Mayor Willie Brown. Tickets to the entire evening fundraiser for Pieces of the Quilt are $125,$250, and $500. Tickets to the post-performance party are $35. For tickets call the MAGIC Theatre (415) 441-8001, or the box office (415) 441 8822.
-- By Blair Glaser