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"Stick Fly" Playwright Lydia R. Diamond: "We Have To Acknowledge That Theater Has Been Largely Elitist"

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by Cynthia Reid
November 22, 2011 4:56 PM
3 Comments
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With the official Broadway debut of Stick Fly right around the corner, playwright Lydia R. Diamond recently commented, in an interview with The Boston Globe, on the general perception of the theater as well as the unaccounted fans that are often overlooked.  "We have to acknowledge that theater has been largely elitistBut what we forget is that there are people who are so passionately invested in theater that they save their money and they come. They don’t go to 10 movies, and they come to the theater. And those are the people we forget about all the time. And dismiss,’’ she said.

Producers have assumed black audiences wouldn't buy tickets to major Broadway productions but, with the arrival of all-black cast productions like Stickfly, The Mountaintop and The Gershwins' Porgy And Bess soon to come, that train of thought is being challenged.

Everyone says, ‘What does this moment mean?' I think partially it means that we’re starting to understand that people of color also have money that they will spend on theater. The commercial viability of everyone’s story - it’s important,’’ Diamond said.

Stick Fly deals with themes of race, class and sibling rivalry when two brothers introduce their girlfriends to the family on the same weekend at the  family vacation home in Martha's Vineyard.  Directed by Kenny Leon with Alicia Keys on board as a producer, it features Dule Hill, Tracie Thoms, Condola Rashad, Rosie Benton, Rueben Santiago-Hudson and Mekhi Phifer

Opening night is Dec. 8 and you can read the full interview with Diamond HERE.

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3 Comments

  • CareyCarey | November 23, 2011 7:29 AMReply

    SUMMER 2012: MADEA COMES TO BROADWAY! Be very careful. It's the products on the shelf, not the location nor the price. Black folks... the upper-class, the middle-class, the underclass and those living in the projects... black folks will spend their money on entertainment that makes them smile. And, they will spend in excess of TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS ON THEIR HAIR, and then find someplace to wear that hair. Build it and build it "right" and they will come! Many many many of Tyler's seats sell for over $100.00. I'm just sayin'...

  • CareyCarey | November 22, 2011 8:28 PMReply

    A BROADWAY REVIEW: “The Motherf**ker with the Hat” . "Rock just about gets through this assignment. Just. But you can see the fear in his eyes. Which would be fine if he were playing a weak character. But in “Hat,” Rock is, in fact, playing the principal aggressor in a play about love and chemical addiction among a small group of characters in modern-day New York. Rock does fine with the charming part of that equation, but not the predator underneath. It is a performance wholly bereft of complexity of character" *STOP* I read Playwright Lydia R. Diamond's interview in The Boston Globe, so I used the above review as a lead-in to the sentiments of my comment. See, it has always been my understanding, belief and experience that black folks have money, and will spend that money on things they desire, enjoy and cherish, regardless of their economic standing. Granted, some of those spending decisions (i.e., buying a brand new Cadillac & BMW while living in rental property, and/or buying expensive clothes, hair and jewelry before saving for their children's college fund, etc) but many of us live by the rule of "you can't put a price on happiness, even if it's only a temporary thrill". Nevertheless, in reference to the theater, I believe it has more to do with the quality and entertainment value of what's being present to and for black viewers, than it does ticket prices. More importantly, we, like all humans, are creatures of habit. I am suggesting that name recognition, along with a product that engages the black theater goer, is a vital element (imo) in the success of persuading black folks to spend their money (over 100 dollars). Hey, Chris Rock is a recognizable name, and in many circle he is a drawing card but... *STOP*. Samuel Jackson is a great actor and so is Angela Bassett (Their name recognition is a drawing card). Also, the subject matter of The Mountaintop is an instant head turner. And, Porgy and Bess speaks for itself. It's an old standard. Now we have Alicia Keys Presents Stick Fly; A melodramatic play set on Martha’s Vineyard, in the vacation home of a wealthy black family. Race and class are prominent themes of the play, in which two grown sons, Kent and Flip (Mekhi Phifer), bring women home to meet their parents. Kent’s entomologist fiancée, Taylor, was raised by her single mother, a college professor, and is intimidated by the affluence of a household equipped with a maid. Flip’s girlfriend, Kimber, is well-off but white, which creates friction of its own. So does the fact that Kent and Flip’s neurosurgeon father (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) arrives without their mother. *STOP* I've paid my hard earned money to watch a few broadway plays but... huuuummm, questions questions questions...

  • Cont.... | November 22, 2011 11:00 PM

    And, blacks folks will pay over 200 dollars to see acts such as Jill Scott, Maxwell, Sade, Prince, Jay-Z & Kanye West and others, so it's not about money. Heck, the Kem and Charlie Wilson concert - right now in Atlanta - is getting $200.00 - $296.00.

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