Freddie Mercury and Rapper Eazy-E from N.W.A. are just two of the famous names who have dedicated panels on the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, a project started in 1987 to honor lives lost to the epidemic.
The Quilt is now considered the largest community arts project in the world. At a time when LGBTQ+ rights are under attack, it is a reminder of the tragedy, and what activists can accomplish in the face of government neglect.
Quilt Stories, presented by Wilmington, North Carolina–based Mouths of Babes Theatre, is a documentary play in which actors perform monologues based on interviews conducted by Director and MOB Artistic Director Trey Morehouse.
We meet Chloe Mason as Lonnie, who tells the story of Hector, a Cuban who left during the Castro regime and moved to San Francisco. He loved dancing, Cuban coffee, and glitter. He encourages his friends to have a party in his memory.
Erin (Amber Moore) and Lisa (Julia Rothberger) are sisters whose father, Reed, a librarian, came out to his wife and family later in life. In a projection, we see a picture of him with his dog Bailey.
LeShonda (Amber Moore) presents a beautiful panel she created dedicated to her late mother, to increase HIV awareness in and among Black women.
Jerry (Trey Morehouse) was involved with NAMES during the first Quilt presentation in New York’s Central Park. Ed (Tony Eliaz-Choufani) was a member of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), a celebrated group fighting for people with AIDS that was known for demonstrations and die-ins and is still active today.
The stage is designed as a quilt-making workshop, with panels, an ironing board, and even a sewing machine. The colorful projections (by Trey Morehouse & J. Robert Raines, with animations by Rile Knotts, Yana Birukyova, and Maxwell Reinebach) help us to appreciate the lives commemorated.
The performances are somewhat uneven, and since actors instead of the families and friends involved are telling the stories, the effect is less impactful than it could be.
Still, every work which celebrates the Quilt is, in a sense, part of the Quilt itself. And that makes it a meaningful remembrance.
Running Time: 75 minutes.
Age Appropriateness: Recommended for Children 13+ and older
Quilt Stories: Voices from the AIDS Quilt
A monologue play by Trey Morehouse based on interviews from people who lost loved ones to the AIDS crisis.
As a documentary, this work includes real voices based on transcribed interviews.
JEFF: Maker of Walt’s Quilt Panel
ED: Quilt Maker and activist
LeSHONDA: Maker of Pumpkin (mom’s) Quilt panel
ERIN: Reed’s daughter
LISA: Reed’s daughter
DEBORAH: Jerry’s friend
LILLI: Maker of Ken’s Quilt panel
GERT: “Mother of the Quilts”
MARSHALL: Maker of Craig’s Quilt
CHLOE MASON: LONNIE, GERT, & DEBORAH
TONY-ELIAS CHOUFAN: ED
TREY MOREHOUSE: JEFF & JERRY
AMBER MOORE: LeSHONDA & ERIN
JULIA ROTHBERGER: LILLI & LISA
DIRECTOR: TREY MOREHOUSE
STAGE MANAGER: TRUÜ DANNS & GEORGIA COLE
PROJECTION DESIGN: TREY MOREHOUSE & J. ROBERT RAINES
SOUND DESIGN: TREY MOREHOUSE & RYLAN MORSBACH
POSTER ART: RILE KNOTTS
ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE: AMBER MOORE & CHLOE MASON
ANIMATIONS: RILE KNOTTS, YANA BIRUKYOVA, & MAXWELL REINEBACH
The complete 2023 Capital Fringe Festival guidebook is online here.