I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to make it over to the Cort Theatre yet to see “Stick Fly,” Broadway’s newest play by African-American female playwright Lydia R. Diamond. If you have not gone yet, you need to make plans to do so. This play is original and dazzling to watch. It is well written and delivered by a phenomenal cast.
Recently, Diamond spoke with the AmNews to give our readers more insight into her amazing work.
AmNews: How does it feel to have your play on Broadway?
LD: It’s wonderful having my play on Broadway. I never sat down to write a play that would one day have a production on Broadway and so, I think, didn’t fully anticipate how much that achievement would mean to others. I now understand that there is a certain historical significance, being one of a handful of Black women produced on Broadway, and I feel humbled and empowered.
AmNews: What inspired you to write this play?
LD: I was writing a different play, a play titled “Voyeurs de Venus,” and needed to balance it by writing something that would engage a different part of my artistic brain. I wanted to write something funny and light that would be a structural departure from the plays I’d written previously.
AmNews: Who are the characters based on?
LD: My characters are all fictional, and all of them have little bits of me and people I’ve known and loved in them.
AmNews: You write with such ease and manage to mix humor with some very serious issues that can go on in African-American families-really, in any type of family. The feeling of needing approval from one’s father, families handling infidelity, families keeping secrets, men not owning up to their responsibilities in a complete manner-why was it important to you to present these issues in the way you did?
LD: I was less concerned about handling issues and more concerned with developing well-rounded, non-stereotypical characters. I am always interested in class, race and family, and so it was only natural that thematically the writing would reside there. I also think theater, even the most serious theater, should make us laugh occasionally. I think there is great humanity in laughter, and it certainly makes digesting that which is not always pleasant a little easier.
AmNews: What do you want audiences to see about wealthy Black families?
LD: I did not intend to make audiences “see” anything about wealthy Black families. It happens that the family who inhabits this house is wealthy and Black, and people have felt affirmed by that as we have few representations of that population on stage. There is also a middle-class person and a working-class person in the play. What I have found is that people of all races, classes and generations feel that the family resembles families that they either know well or can call their own.
AmNews: You bring in the controversy that can come with an interracial relationship, but it’s also a relationship that the male is not willing to make solid. What are you trying to say by presenting Flip’s character in this way?
LD: It just happens that Flip, possibly partly by the example his father has set, is not one to gravitate toward monogamy. I think his hesitancy would be pretty resolved with a partner of any color. It’s not a political statement as much as it is a depiction of a kind of male who is uncomfortable with the idea of commitment because he is not capable of that level of emotional vulnerability.
That said, I think the odds are in favor of Flip reconsidering his position.
AmNews: The three Black males are very clear characters: one is sensitive, one is controlling and cold and another is also cold and afraid of commitment. What are you trying to say about Black males through these characters?
LD: I am not saying anything about the Black man. Black, White, Asian, Martian-men are men, diverse in their attitudes about race, gender and culture. I don’t think any of the characters in “Stick Fly” represent any one kind of man. They are all well-rounded individuals with viewpoints born of their experiences and perceptions. I do like that I have put on stage Black men who honor Black women and feel some allegiance to family.
AmNews: By contrast, the female characters are all very strong in their own right-what message are you trying to convey through them?
LD: Much like my previous answer, I don’t think the female characters represent anything other than themselves. I am glad that they are all complicated, funny and flawed. I do think they are strong women, and I love this about them.
AmNews: What do you want audiences to come away with?
LD: I would hope audiences are entertained and feel that the evening was worthy of their time and money.
“Stick Fly” is something you should see and form your own opinions about. It’s definitely worth your time.