You can watch a full production of ‘Sticks and Stones’ online now

07.24.15 2 years ago

Scott Swan

It is not often that I get to offer you something special of my own here at HitFix.

That's not to say I am not personally invested in my writing here. Of course I am. I think over the last five or six years, I've turned a corner in terms of my own understanding of what film criticism can be, and for me, it works on a very personal level. But when it comes to my creative work, there's not a lot of it that I've been able to share in a finished form. I could publish my scripts, I suppose, as long as my co-writer Scott Swan agreed, but a script is a suggestion of what a movie will eventually be, not the movie itself.

When I wrote about my quarter-century here in LA, I wrote about the production of our play, “Sticks and Stones,” at the Met Theater in LA. I'm not sure I really did my feelings about it justice in that piece. Our cast, Jonathan Silverman and Lou Mustillo, did us so right that I would happily right now do any favor either man asked, no questions asked. Pick up the body? Sure. Drive you somewhere? Just call. And the same is true of Jerry Levine, our director. When we saw Jerry's production of a Bryan Goluboff play called “Big Al,” we immediately tuned in on the way he liked to direct theater and the kind of characters he was drawn to, and we also got hooked on the specific feeling of what happens when you stage something explosive in a 99-seat theater. It's amazing, and it's like virtual reality. You get pulled in, and it's this very special shared thing between you and the rest of the audience when it really works.

I can't believe this play was staged over 20 years ago, because it certainly feels like the illness that was so much a part of LA culture at the time has become even more supercharged on the national stage. One of the shows I have in my daily Hulu queue is Larry Wilmore's “The Nightly Show,” and it is truly heartbreaking to see just how much material he's being given, and how deeply unfunny the true conversations we're having right now are.

This is a pretty rare thing, since we never did make that feature film that Showtime wanted to develop from the play, and both Jonathan and Lou are great in this. Lou in particular is a guy whose career mystifies me. He is so good, and he was so consistently great night after night, that I felt like he should have worked nonstop. He's certainly still a hard-working actor, but I wish filmmakers had realized what a secret weapon he is, and just how heavy a load he can lift as an actor. He should have been given much bigger and better parts, and it makes me proud to be able to share his performance with people, even if it's like this, even if it's for free and just to be able to have this thing out there and “on the record” in a way.

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For me, this is a trip down memory lane that I wanted to share because of all the truly moving e-mail you guys sent while the “25 Years In LA” series was being published. I don't think “enjoy” is the right word for something like this, and I warn you in advance… it is as NSFW as possible with language, with some very raw racial language being used. But when someone recently asked under something I published, “When did McWeeny get so PC?”, it bugged me, because I think I've been actively thinking about privilege and language and race in our culture for over two decades now. It's just that the places and the ways I can express those thoughts have changed.

This particular video is courtesy Scott Swan, and if you have any questions about it, please reach out to me and I'll be happy to answer them.

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