From the Artist
I first read these poems in college, as a 19-year-old at Vassar College. It was exciting and scary to come out of the closet in 1989. Before I had even kissed a man, though, the first thing out of anyone’s mouth was “don’t get AIDS.” The possibility of love was inextricably tied with illness, discrimination, and death.
Sophomore year, I took a class called AIDS in Literature, taught by a great professor named Pat Wallace, in which we read both Love Alone and Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, by Paul Monette. Monette's writing taught me how to face my fear, but more importantly, taught me how to fight for my dignity in the face of discrimination and death.
In January of 2020, I picked them up again, now the same age that Monette was when he wrote them. They continue to move me, and when COVID-19 hit, they suddenly transformed from history into prophecy, “like a signal from a dying star, bursting here in my dead heart.” Monette and his poems teach me ways to face the darkness, and I look forward to bringing this story to new audiences.
Why this play? Why now?
In recent years, a new generation of artists has been revisiting the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Revivals of Tony Kushner's Angels in America and Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart help remember the experience of a generation that was lost. Meanwhile, new plays like Matthew Lopez's The Inheritance invite LGBTQ+ elders - many of whom thought they would be long gone - to share their stories with a younger generation, passing on the stewardship of a tribal legacy.
Why a live performance?
Why a live performance, rather than creating a film or recorded event? Neither grief nor love come with a pause button. In the poems, Monette is sometimes trapped in time as the world moves on, and desperate to stop time from taking his lover further away from him. An audience watching the performance live can inhabit that experience in way that would be lessened in something recorded. Also, in a pandemic where we are forced to be physically distant, synchronizing in time gives another way to establish a deeper connection.
In December 2020, I worked with the Brooklyn Pride Community Center to offer a first workshop performance in conjunction with World AIDS Day. The response to the piece was strong, with audience members describing it as, "moving," "thought-provoking," "poignant," and "inspiring."
A second workshop is planned for December 2021 to stage the second half, and to begin incorporating lighting and projections for a full production to be presented and toured in 2022.