AIDS Memorial Quilt Comes to Montclair State December 5-11

Sections of the famed tapestry will be on view at Memorial Auditorium during Department of Theatre and Dance's production of the musical "Falsettos"

One of the five panels of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, a memorial to those lost to the deadly disease, on display in Memorial Auditorium December 5-11. The select panels on view honor notables in the theatrical world including Michael Bennett ("A Chorus Line"), Michael Jeter ("Grand Hotel" and TV's "Evening Shade") and, pictured above, Larry Kert ("West Side Story").

Sections of the internationally celebrated AIDS Memorial Quilt – the 54-ton, handmade tapestry that is a memorial to the more than 94,000 individuals lost to AIDS – will be on view from December 5-11 at Memorial Auditorium. The exhibit runs concurrently with the Department of Theatre and Dance's production of Falsettos, a musical set in the days when the deadly disease didn't even have a name, and follows on the heels of World AIDS Day on December 1.

Julie Rhoad, executive director of The NAMES Project Foundation, custodian of The AIDS Memorial Quilt, explains that sections of the tapestry are continuously on display across the country in schools, churches and community centers, in the hope of making HIV and AIDS real, human and immediate.

“We are thrilled to have the chance to share The AIDS Memorial Quilt with the Montclair State community," Rhoad says. "These handmade blocks, created by friends and family, tell the stories of individuals who have lost their lives to AIDS. We bring you their stories to inspire compassion, healing and personal responsibility."

Rhoad explains that in a war against a disease that has no cure, The AIDS Memorial Quilt has evolved as a potent teaching tool in the effort to educate against the lethal threat of AIDS. "The AIDS Quilt helps teach compassion, triumphs over taboo, stigma and phobia; and inspires individuals to take direct responsibility for their own well being and that of their family, friends and community," she says. "We thank Montclair State University for hosting this event.”

The AIDS Quilt display will serve as the backdrop for the production of Falsettos, which will be presented December 6-11 at the L. Howard Fox Studio Theater (located next to Memorial Auditorium). Falsettos is the jaunty tale of Marvin, who leaves his wife and young son to live with another man. His ex-wife marries his psychiatrist, and Marvin ends up alone. Two years later, Marvin is reunited with his lover on the eve of his son's bar mitzvah, just as AIDS is beginning its insidious spread. A seamless pairing of March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, acclaimed off-Broadway musicals written nearly a decade apart, Falsettos won two Tony Awards in 1992 for best book and musical score. Based on the book by William Finn and James Lapine with music and lyrics by Finn, Falsettos is directed by the BFA Musical Theatre Program's Assistant Professor Joe Joyce.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt began with a single 3-by-6-foot panel created in San Francisco in 1987. Today, The Quilt is composed of more than 48,000 individual panels, each one commemorating the life of someone who has died of AIDS. These panels come from every state in the nation, every corner of the globe and they have been sewn by hundreds of thousands of friends, lovers and family members into this epic memorial, the largest piece of ongoing community art in the world. Is it estimated that more than 15 million people have seen The AIDS Memorial Quilt at tens of thousands of displays throughout the world.

This free display of The AIDS Memorial Quilt is being hosted by the Department of Theatre and Dance, Health Promotion, the LGBTQ Center, the Women's and Gender Studies Department, the Office of Equity and Diversity and the GLBTQ Minor.