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 is a poweful way to establish a deeper connection.
I am delighted to be working with the Brooklyn Pride Community Center to offer this first workshop performance - via livestream - in conjunction with World AIDS Day in December 2020. This will give me a chance to fully embody the verse as a performer, and learn how the staged version of the poetry lands with its intended, intergenerational audience. Discussions following the performance will give audience members a chance to share stories of their own, and explore the impact of the work.
Following the initial workshop, the Love Alone team will review the work done so far, and make plans to create a full-length version of the piece for future production and touring.