A relaxing weekend on Martha's Vineyard: Two brothers of an affluent African American family bring their girlfriends home to meet their parents. One girlfriend is white and affluent; the other is black but grew up on the low end of the economic scale. Dad is in residence, but Mom never shows up. As family secrets unravel and sibling rivalries flare, class distinctions rise to the surface. Tony-nominated director Marion McClinton, recently profiled as a Minnesota Original on tpt, directs Stick Fly.
Playwright Lydia Diamond's work has been performed across the United States and in the United Kingdom. A Huntington Playwriting Fellow and Professor of Playwriting at Boston University, she has won numerous awards for her work, including Stick Fly and Voyeurs de Venus. In an interview with McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ, Diamond spoke about her play: "Stick Fly was going to be my fun play. The themes I wanted to explore had to do with my relationship to white women. I have all of these very good white friends who are like sisters whom I love, but outside of my circle I still feel a tension. That's interesting, because I'm also a feminist, and if I'm going to have visceral negative reactions socially to a person it should be white men, and I found that I bumped heads most often with white women. I wanted to explore that, because it's a contradiction and a really interesting one." She continued, "Also, in my personal life there is always this search for father and what that means, and it was very much a part of what the play is exploring-relationships with fathers. "
Pop star Alicia Keys was intrigued by the story, and produced the 2011-2012 run on Broadway. "This is a story that everybody can relate to. I'm passionate about this play because it is so beautifully written and portrays Black America in a way that we don't often get to see in entertainment," said Keys. "I know it will touch all audiences, who will find a piece of themselves somewhere inside this house."
"Stick Fly is a well-made, familiar-feeling play - the privileged Martha's Vineyard setting has its own 'New York play" vibe,' says Park Square Artistic Director Richard Cook. "But here our playwright is a woman and her story is about an elite American African family. The premise is a fresh, surprising, totally authentic one and there is a rich set of relationships here that I know Marion and this cast will mine for all it's worth."
McClinton has assembled a stellar cast for this production: James A. Williams, who thrilled Park Square audiences with his portrayal of Othello in 2009, portrays the family patriarch, Dr. Joe LeVay, a successful African American academic. Darius Dotch and Darrien Burks both make their Park Square debuts as the LeVay sons, joined by Tracey Maloney (Park Square's American Family) and Traci Allen (in her Park Square debut), as the girlfriends. Brittany Bradford, who was Sarah last season in Park Square's highly acclaimed production of Ragtime, is returning to the Twin Cities to portray Cheryl, the daughter of the family's maid.
Park Square is collaborating with Mixed Blood Theatre Company to present a series of post-show conversations on May 12 and May 19 to dig deeper into issues explored by the play, such as how class affects attitudes about and realities of racism. These discussions are included in the price of the ticket.
Stick Fly's production team includes A. Emily Heaney (Costume Designer), Sarah Holmberg (Properties Designer), Kit Mayer (Scenic Designer), Michael P. Kittel (Lighting Designer), and C. Andrew Mayer (Sound Designer). Megan West is stage manager.
Performance Schedule: Previews begin April 26 and run through May 2. Friday, May 3 is Opening Night, and the run continues through May 19. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday performances, which begin at 2 p.m. All performances are in the company's intimate 340-seat theater in Saint Paul's historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Place.
The show contains adult sexual themes and strong language.
Ticket prices: Previews: $25. Regular Run: $38 & $58. Discounts are available for seniors, those under age 30, and groups. Tickets are on sale at the Park Square box office, 20 W. Seventh Place, or by phone: 651.291.7005, (12 noon-5 p.m. Monday through Friday), or online at www.parksquaretheatre.org.