Emily Mann on Stick Fly
It is a rare gift to pick up a new script by an emerging writer and say: “This is a voice I’ve been waiting to hear!” Two years ago, when I first encountered Lydia Diamond’s plays, I was struck by her brilliance and artistry. Her writing was crisp, witty and direct, yet also had a depth and impact that took my breath away. The first of her scripts that I read, Voyeurs de Venus, was such a moving and powerful play that I immediately knew Lydia was an important new voice in the American theater. We brought Lydia to McCarter to do a reading of her adaptation of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and once again, I heard a powerful voice that was as intellectually stunning as it was deeply heartfelt. When McCarter did a reading of her new play, Stick Fly, that June, I decided: our audiences had to see Lydia Diamond’s work on our mainstage.
Set in the elite African-American community of Martha’s Vineyard, Stick Fly explores complex and intertwining issues of family, trust, and class. Sadly, it is rare to find such a powerful piece of new literature that is set in upper-class African-American culture. American theater audiences have grown accustomed to seeing only one element of the African-American community represented on our stages and in our films. Contemporary, upper-class, well-educated, highly accomplished and economically privileged African-American families, like the one we see in Stick Fly, are too infrequently portrayed on stage. This play is an important reminder that even our finest African-American playwrights are showing only one side of the many facets of our nation’s African-American community.
But Stick Fly, is not, at heart, a play about race. Rather, it is a play about secrets, a play about family, a play about trying to connect, and a play about the undeniable effects of class. It is a tremendously moving, exceptionally funny, and wonderfully true play that I know will entertain and entrance all of our audiences with its alluring language, complex characters, and keen exploration of modern society.