State of the Arts
A different sort of African-American drama is coming to Houston
If the Cosbys were the first upper middle-class African American family to hit prime time, the LeVays might be the first upperclass African American family onstage—and unlike the Cosbys, all their issues can't be resolved in 30 minutes.
Lydia Diamond's 2006 play Stick Fly, about the old-money LeVay family as they assemble in their Martha's Vineyard home, was in part a reaction to her tiring of always seeing African Americans play downtrodden characters: slaves, drug dealers, and other unfortunates. As she said on NPR's Morning Edition, "I started out as an actress and I remember thinking, 'I wish I could be in a play where I got to wear pretty clothes and didn't have to be in gunnysack.'" (The full audio interview is below.)
But for all their status, Stick Fly shows the LeVays as they deal with race, family life and the world around them from an angle not often explored, whether it's being followed around Pottery Barn by a salesgirl or bringing home a white girlfriend. "This isn't unlike the conversations that I've had with my own family," Diamond said. "Privilege doesn't necessarily shelter them from the prejudice that's woven into the fabric of our society."
Houston's Ensemble Theatre will perform Stick Fly, directed by Eileen J. Morris, from April 3-May 9.
Listen to a great interview with playwright Lydia Diamond:
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