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Arena Stage Presents STICK FLY 1/1-2/7/2010

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Arena Stage presents Stick Fly, a thought-provoking comedy that explores the role of race and privilege in the African-American social aristocracy. Director of the 2004 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, Kenny Leon returns to Arena Stage to direct this witty and insightful comedy. Stick Fly is written by playwright Lydia R. Diamond, whose plays include The Bluest Eye and The Gift Horse, among others. Stick Fly is being produced in collaboration with the Huntington Theatre Company. Stick Fly runs January 1 - February 7, 2010 at Arena Stage in Crystal City. The press opening performance is Thursday, January 7, 2010.

"I love Lydia's play, and to have Kenny direct it is a dream," said Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. "Lydia is a great storyteller who has an uncanny ear for dialogue. She says what she thinks, feels and wants through her plays. Kenny is a renaissance man. He understands the psychology of human beings. His connection to the language of this play will bring out the humor and compassion from Lydia's story."
Stick Fly follows the affluent LeVay family, who come together to spend a summer weekend at their family's Martha's Vineyard home. The youngest son, Kent LeVay, brings his fiancée Taylor to the cottage to meet the family. Taylor, unaccustomed to the surrounding wealth and life of privilege, challenges the household dynamic. The family ties rapidly unravel when Kent's womanizing older brother surprises everyone with his new, white girlfriend. Conflict and dysfunction ensue as the family attempts to coexist amid the new tensions and secrets they have each been concealing.

"I want to be right here, right now, working with Arena Stage and Lydia Diamond on Stick Fly," said Leon. "This play brought me back to Arena Stage because it is a play that matters and changes people. This play is the perfect combination of comedy and drama. The audience will laugh all the way home but when they get home they will have something to think about."

Wendell W. Wright (Looking Over the President's Shoulder at Ford's Theatre and Black No More at Arena Stage) returns to Arena Stage as Joe LeVay, patriarch of the family. He is joined by Billy Eugene Jones (Broadway's Passing Strange and Radio Golf) as Flip, Jason Dirden (Off-Broadway's First Fall Breeze at Signature Theatre Company and August Wilson's 20th Century at the Kennedy Center) as Kent, Nikkole Salter (co-author, performer, and Helen Hayes Award winner of In the Continuum) as Taylor and Rosie Benton (Broadway's Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Accent on Youth) as Kimber. Amber Iman (The Amen Corner at Alliance Theatre and The Samson Musical at New Horizons Theatre) completes the ensemble as Cheryl, the housekeeper's daughter and close family friend.

"My plays always come out of my own understanding, confusion and fascination surrounding the complexities of race, class, age and sexuality," said Diamond. "I say it as I see it through my own African-American woman eyes, and through the eyes of the people I presumptuously inhabit when writing. I strive to understand the specific details of human interaction and emotion, details that might seem mundane but are actually the defining elements of drama. Honesty is what ultimately will make the story resonate."

Stick Fly premiered at Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago during 2006. In 2008 it was performed at the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Stick Fly is the recipient of the 2006 Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best New Play and was a nominee for the 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work and a 2008 Susan Blackburn Prize finalist. The Matrix Theatre Company's 2009 production of Stick Fly is currently nominated for five 2009 Ovation Awards. Stick Fly has been hailed as "an impressively ambitious play" (Chicago Tribune) and "a refreshingly vital story about relationships and richly complex characters" (Variety).

For high-resolution images and further information, please e-mail press@arenastage.org.

Lydia R. Diamond (Playwright)'s plays include: Voyeurs de Venus, The Bluest Eye, The Gift Horse, Stage Black, Lizzie Stranton and Harriet Jacobs. Producing theaters include: Arena Stage, Huntington, New Vic, Goodman, Steppenwolf, Long Wharf, Hartford Stage, McCarter, PlayMakers Rep, Providence Black Rep, Chicago Dramatists, Congo Square, True Colors, The Matrix and Company One. Commissions include: Steppenwolf, Humana/Victory Gardens, McCarter, Huntington and Roundabout. Stick Fly is published by Northwestern University Press. Ms. Diamond is a 2009 NEA/Arena Stage New Play Development Grant Finalist, an ‘06/07 Huntington Playwright Fellow, a current TCG Executive Board Member and is on faculty at Boston University.

Kenny Leon (Director) is a sought-after director of stage, TV and film. His Broadway work includes the 2004 Tony Award-winning revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, which recorded the highest grossing weekly box office sales for a drama on Broadway. Leon also directed the Emmy-nominated film A Raisin in the Sun, which aired on ABC in 2008 and has received a Directors Guild Award nomination, an Emmy nomination, a Golden Globe nomination and won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Television Movie. Other directorial credits include the Tony-nominated productions of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf, Toni Morrison's opera Margaret Garner and August Wilson's Century Cycle at the Kennedy Center, for which he was artistic director. Leon has directed extensively around the country, including the Goodman Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Center Theatre Group and The Public Theater. He is also the former artistic director of the Alliance Theatre, where he produced the premieres of Disney's Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida, Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky and Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Leon is founder and artistic director of True Colors Theatre Company, principal of KL Productions and an inspirational speaker.

Stick Fly Cast:

Rosie Benton (Kimber) Broadway: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Roundabout Theatre Company), Accent on Youth (MTC). Off-Broadway: Saturn Returns (Lincoln Center Theatre), Howard Katz (Roundabout Theatre Company). Regional: Spike Heels (Syracuse Stage), The Night Season (Bay Street Theatre) and Betrayal (Hangar Theatre).

Jason Dirden (Kent) is very excited to be making his Arena Stage debut in this production of Stick Fly. Recent credits include Fences (GeVa Theatre), The First Breeze of Summer (Signature Theatre, NY), August Wilson's 20th Century (Kennedy Center) and Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (True Colors Theatre). TV/Film: Tyler Perry's House of Payne.

Amber Iman (Cheryl) is also delighted to make her Arena Stage debut. Other local appearances include Delilah in The Samson Musical (New Horizons) and Amber in the world premiere of The Stephen Schwartz Project (MetroStage). She has performed regionally at Alliance Theatre (Old Lady in Goodnight Moon). Amber is a recent graduate of Howard Univ. (BFA, musical theater) and is a proud member of Sigma Alpha Iota, International Music Fraternity for Women and D.I.V.A. Inc.

Billy Eugene Jones (Flip) Broadway: Passing Strange, Radio Golf, Gem of the Ocean and A Raisin in the Sun. Off-Broadway: Waiting for Godot and Three Sisters (Classical Theatre of Harlem). Regional: Death of a Salesman, Richard II and (Yale Repertory Theatre); The Good Negro, Hamlet, Avenue X and My Children!, My Africa! (Dallas Theater Center); Othello (California Shakespeare Theatre); Gee's Bend (Alabama Shakespeare Theatre); Spunk (Actors Theatre of Louisville); Jitney (Alliance Theatre). Education/Training: Yale School of Drama.

Nikkole Salter (Taylor) Co-author of and actor in the Off-Broadway and international tour of In the Continuum, for which she was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Best Actress and received the New York Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Playwriting Award, Obie Special Citation, and Helen Hayes Award for Best Non-Resident Play. Regional: Inked Baby (Playwright Horizons), Gee's Bend (Kansas City Rep) and Jitney (Studio Theatre).

Wendell W. Wright (Joe LeVay) Regional: Looking over the President's Shoulder (Ford's Theatre), Private Eyes (Old Globe Theater), Black No More (Arena Stage/Guthrie Theater). A member of Arena Stage's former resident acting company appearing in numerous productions including Twelfth Night, Uncle Vanya and Arcadia.

The Creative Team for Stick Fly includes Set Designer David Gallo, Assistant Set Designer Evan Adamson, Costumer Designer Reggie Ray, Assistant to Costume Designer Nijeul Porter, Lighting Designer Allen Lee Hughes, Sound Designer Timothy Thompson, Dramaturg Janine Sobeck, Stage Manager Angelita Thomas, Assistant Stage Manager Jenna Henderson, Directing Assistant Lico Whitfield, Production Assistant Jamil Jude, Directing Fellow Flordelino Lagundino, Lighting Fellow Catherine Girardi, Line Producer Travis Ballenger, NY Casting Alaine Alldaffer and Board Intern David Shiffrin.

Stick Fly is sponsored by Susan and Steve Barlove, Linda and John M. Derrick, Wendy Farrow, Mark and Merrill Shugoll and Dick and Katie Showdon.

Arena Stage productions in Crystal City are sponsored by the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID).

Stick Fly Special Events, Ticket Information & Performance Calendar:
The Salon - Monday, February 1, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
In the spirit of artistic and literary salons of the past, The Salon features artistic leaders from Arena Stage in a series of lively, in-depth conversations with the playwrights, actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs and audiences that make Arena Stage unique. The Salon is free to Arena Stage subscribers and donors ($75+) and only $3 for the general public. Reservations must be made through the Arena Stage Sales Office at (202) 488-3300.

Southwest Night - Friday, January 1, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.
An invitation is extended to our Southwest D.C. neighbors to buy $20 tickets, plus applicable fees, for one designated Friday evening performance of each production. Proof of Southwest D.C. residency-or continued employment-for each audience member of each party must be presented at the time of purchase. Tickets are limited to four per person and are based on availability. To purchase tickets, call (202) 488-3300 or stop by the Arena Stage Sales Office.

Black American Playwrights Symposium - Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
As part of the American Voices New Play Institute, Arena Stage presents a unique symposium with leading black American Playwrights. Lydia R. Diamond, Pearl Cleage and Marcus Gardley, among other will convene to discuss the issues presented in their works and the challenges they face in developing new plays. Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 7:30 p.m., these playwrights will hold a public presentation, during which they will read excerpts from their work and hold a Q&A session with the audience. This event is made possible by the Arena Stage and Georgetown University Theatre and Performance Studies Program 2009-2010 partnership. This free event will be presented at Gonda Theatre in the Davis Performing Arts Center, 37th and O Street NW, on the campus of Georgetown University. Reservations can be made by calling the Arena Stage Sales Office at (202) 488-3300.

TICKETS: Tickets for Stick Fly range from $25 to $66 plus applicable fees. Discount tickets are available for patrons purchasing tickets for multiple shows, students and groups. A limited number of $10 tickets for patrons ages 30 and under go on sale beginning each Monday for performances that week. (All patrons must present valid ID.) HOTTIX, a limited number of half-price, day-of-performance tickets, are available 90 to 30 minutes before curtain prior to every performance. Tickets may be purchased online at www.arenastage.org, by phone at (202) 488-3300 or at the Arena Stage Sales Office at 1800 S. Bell Street, Arlington, VA 22202.

Sales Office/Subscriptions (202) 488-3300
TTY for deaf patrons (202) 484-0247
Group Sales Hotline (202) 488-4380
Info for patrons with disabilities (202) 488-3300


Tuesday, Wednesday & Sunday at 7:30 p.m. (6:00 p.m. curtain on 1/24)
Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.
Weekday matinees at noon on 1/20, 1/26 & 2/3

Sign-interpreted performances: 1/28 at 8:00 p.m. & 1/31 at 7:30 p.m.
Post-show discussions: 1/19, 1/21, after the evening show; 1/20, 1/26, 2/3, after the noon show
Audio-described performances: 1/27 at 7:30 p.m. & 1/30 at 2:00 p.m.
Open-captioned performance: 2/3 at 7:30 p.m.

ABOUT ARENA RESTAGED
With construction well underway on the 48-year-old Southwest D.C. theater campus, Arena Stage has launched ARENA RESTAGED, a two-year festival celebrating the rich mosaic of our nation's voices. ARENA RESTAGED, which will lay the foundation for a new home for theater artists and audiences, will take place throughout the time it takes to finish the expansion of the new theater complex, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. At the Center, the two existing performance spaces-the Fichandler Stage and the Kreeger Theater-will be fully renovated and a new 200-seat space dedicated to premiering American theater, The Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, will be added. Arena Stage at the Mead Center is scheduled to open for the 2010/11 season.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Managing Director Edgar Dobie, Washington, D.C.-based Arena Stage is the largest theater in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights. Founded in 1950 by Zelda Fichandler, Thomas Fichandler and Edward Mangum, Arena Stage was one of the nation's original resident theaters and has a distinguished record of leadership and innovation in the field. With the opening of the new Mead Center for American Theater in 2010, Arena Stage will be a leading center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater. Now in its sixth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 200,000. For more information please visit www.arenastage.org.

Photo credit: Walter McBride


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