Struggles of a modern African American family acted out in "Stick Fly"
Before long, the holidays will be upon us. And almost every young couple will have to make that tough decision: Do I take them home to meet the parents?
Friday night is opening night for the play Stick Fly put on by the Black Arts and Cultural Center. It’s about Taylor, an etymologist who’s going to meet her fiancée’s rich parents. Director Marissa Harrington says she’s been mulling over the play’s title for a while.
“I studied flies and how they land on things. And they automatically stick to things, which is what Taylor does. She’s craving so much for love and attention that she lands on things and sticks. So that’s kind of my theory about it,” says Harrington. “There’s also some more practical references in the show where she actually uses honey to catch flies as well.”
The LaVeys are a tight-knit, African American family where almost everyone is a financial success. Everyone but Taylor’s fiancée Kent.
“My father paid for dental school, law school, business school…and I choose to be a writer,” says Nate Minor who plays Kent. “My father’s kind of always at my head about things. So when I bring taylor home, I think it’s more of looking at me from under a microscope and making sure I’m not making another mistake.”
Taylor isn’t the only one trying to make a good impression. Kimber is a white woman dating Flip, the oldest son of the LeVay family. Flip, played by Christopher Martin, is worried about what his parents might think. So, he tries to pass of Kimber, who works with disadvantaged children in American schools, as Italian.
Playwright Lydia Diamond wrote Stick Fly only two years ago. It’s is a family drama, but don’t expect any unnecessarily quirky personalities or overly ecstatic Brady Bunch clones. Janai Travis plays Taylor. She says Stick Fly shows a realistic type of African American family that we don’t usually see.
“As a graduate of Western Michigan University, I find that my conversations as an African American in the circles I tend to travel in, we do talk like people in Stick Fly. We do have certain conversations that the media now, mainstream society would never say we’re talking about. If you let VH1 tell it. If you let certain networks tell it, we’re only talking about men in a sexual grotesque way. We’re only trying to get money and materials. It’s not about like love and it’s not about like our stories and the history that we have. And Stick Fly really captures that. It captures that through the studies that these people have devoted their careers to. It shows it in the family dynamic in the way that they talk about how the mother and the father got together. And it really just addresses some really rich components of the African American experience. "
Director Marisa Harrington says most plays tend to portray African Americans who are lower class, still struggling. But Harrington says Stick Fly addresses what happens when a black person has reached the highest point in financial and social status.
“Do you feel like you need to be loyal to your heritage or do you feel like you need to be something else?” Harrington asks.