When Sean San Jose Blackman's mother died from AIDS, he had to respond. What began as a plan to perform AIDS monologues on Monday and Tuesday nights became, with the enthusiastic encouragement of Magic Theatre Artistic Director Mame Hunt, Pieces of the Quilt, a collection of 15 short plays by, among others, Edward Albee, Tony Kushner, Ntozake Shange, and Lanford Wilson. Blackman wrote to playwrights nationwide, asking for a short play on AIDS. "We heard from Edward Albee right away," Blackman says, the awe still present in his voice. "I picked up the phone, and there was Edward Albee, telling me how eager he was to participate." Albee did more than write his own play; he brought others on board. Hunt hopes "to create as full an evening as possible so everyone can be touched. There is good karma attached to this." All proceeds above production costs will be donated to AIDS service organizations. A Quilt benefit will be held at the Magic on Feb. 25. For $35, you'll hear Blackman and Julia Sweeney reading from Quilt, see the final performance of Sweeney's God Said, "HA!", and know that you've contributed to an extraordinary theatrical statement. Call 441-8822 for tickets; if you're busy that night, send a donation.
After Thomas Estler awoke from a three-year coma, he started aerobics to get his body back. His teacher suggested choreography; the result is Psycho Monkey on Planet Earth, a play of 28 scenes and 18 dances that's not autobiographical. "I began writing to entertain myself," Estler explains, "but I'm not entertained by my own life." Says Marsh producer Stephanie Weisman, "Thomas is incredible. He talks about real issues of youth and family dysfunction, but his play is poetic, not traumatic." Weisman's enthusiasm led her to produce the show off-site at Nourse Auditorium in Hayes Valley, a Marsh first. "We had to find a bigger space because the piece has 12 dancers onstage." Poetry and motion -- such a deal. Call 826-5750.
Explosion in the Lab
Two years ago, when a group of Latinas noticed that their acting roles were limited to maids and nonspeaking nurses, they formed Latina Theatre Lab to create their own work, to hone their skills, to explore and explode stereotypes. Their latest is AAQue Nuevas!? -- What's New!?: The Immaculate Conception (at the Brava! Studio). Director Dena Martinez explains that "each member of the company wrote something for the show, creating an evening of dance, song, and monologue around the idea of virgin-mother-whore, and the effect of that mythology on Latinas." Call (510) 658-4543 for tickets.