In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Stick Fly
  • Stacie Selmon McCormick
Stick Fly by Lydia R. Diamond. Directed by Kenny Leon. Cort Theatre, New York City. 7 December 2011

The Broadway production of Lydia Diamond’s Stick Fly coincided with a historically significant moment for black playwrights. For the first time ever, Broadway featured four black women playwrights in a single season: Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre Murray’s adaptation of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Diamond’s Stick Fly. More than fifty years after Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 A Raisin in the Sun appeared on Broadway, it is perhaps fitting that Stick Fly reflects Hansberry’s historic work from contemporary perspectives on family, race, and class. While A Raisin in the Sun shows a family anxious to purchase their first house and move from a life of domestic servitude, Stick Fly features the LeVays, an affluent African American family with multiple houses, including a vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard, where most of the play’s action occurs. Although these works deal with class and African American identity from markedly different vantage points, their structural similarities demonstrate Hansberry’s enduring influence on contemporary playwrights like Diamond. Like A Raisin in the Sun, Stick Fly relies on an ensemble cast to explore multiple facets of African American identity. Director Kenny Leon’s direction highlighted both the complexity of these identities and the tenuousness of class divisions for African Americans by using a split stage that featured the kitchen and the living room as equally prominent. This production also emphasized the role of Cheryl (the daughter of the LeVay family’s housekeeper Ms. Ellie), who functioned as the physical representation of the collapsing of boundaries within the home and family.

Stick Fly tells the story of Taylor (Tracy Thoms), an entomologist whose research inspires the play’s title. Taylor visits the LeVay home for the first time with her fiancé and fledgling fiction writer Kent (Dulé Hill). Although she is the daughter of a wealthy public intellectual, James Bradley Scott, [End Page 441]

Click for larger view
View full resolution

Condola Rashad (Cheryl), Mekhi Phifer (Flip), and Rosie Benton (Kimber) in Stick Fly. (Photo: Richard Termine.)

[End Page 442]

her father divorced her mother and withdrew from Taylor’s life, leaving them to struggle financially. During her time at the LeVay home, Taylor must balance her resentments as an outsider in the lives of the wealthy with her desire to successfully integrate into the LeVay family. She also struggles with what she perceives as the infiltration of the white world into the safe space of the LeVay home as represented through Kimber (Rosie Benton), the white girlfriend of Kent’s brother Flip (Mekhi Phifer). Parallel to Taylor’s explorations of identity is the narrative of Cheryl (Condola Rashad). Due to illness, Cheryl works in her mother’s role and, like Taylor, must negotiate her dual class identifications. Although she is the daughter of the maid, her connections with the LeVay family have enabled her education at an exclusive private school in the suburbs of New York City. Cheryl’s sense of class identity becomes even more complicated when she learns that she is the product of an affair between her mother and the Le-Vay family patriarch, Dr. LeVay (Ruben Santiago-Hudson).

Click for larger view
View full resolution

Condola Rashad (Cheryl) and the ensemble in Stick Fly. (Photo: Richard Termine.)

The staging focused on these tense and shifting identities throughout the play. Prominently divided in two, the scenic design offered a metaphorical and spatial representation of the story itself. The equal prominence of the kitchen and the living room suggested the changing relations between the domestic and the social spheres of the household, as well as a material division against which the characters struggled. This was most evident in Taylor’s behavior, as she repeatedly infringed upon Cheryl’s space in the kitchen. Anxious at the thought of being served, Taylor attempted to help Cheryl with her work as a maid, only to frustrate and irritate her. For Cheryl, the kitchen was a protected space, and Taylor’s transgressions only infringed upon her already-limited space. Other movements...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 441-444
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.