Director Guy Jones gives his perspective on this new play, opening on 10 September. You can watch a preview video here.
Why Sticks & Stones?
Well, to be honest, it was recommended in the National Theatre bookshop. I laughed too much as I read it in the shop, so took it home, (having paid!) and despite never having seen any productions of the show, it leapt off the page as a sparklingly clever and very funny exploration of the state we find ourselves in as a society today.
The play was first performed only last year, so it’s highly topical and looks at how we deal with offence in the modern world; where being thoughtful, kind and inclusive are rightful badges of honour, but where we’re also encouraged to be authentic, true to ourselves, our tribes and their expressions. This means that there are pitfalls of potential offence for even the most well-meaning of individuals if they only ever speak their minds and don’t keep up with the fast pace of change in an ever more diversifying world.
Who are your characters?
There are nine characters played by three actors, all present within a professional workplace. They run the gamut from the ribald, thoughtless loudmouth, to the mousy, sensitive introvert, by way of the procedure driven HR Manager and the immigrant office cleaner. The whirl of diverse peripheral characters creates a blur for the central character, B, as they attempt to walk the tightrope between personal truth and studied correctness, without falling down into the abyss of offence on either side. Needless to say, they struggle.
There were no names or gender pronouns in your descriptions there?
No, that’s a key aspect of the writing, which gives nothing explicit away about the gender, race, nationality, political inclinations, sexual orientations and so on about any of the characters. We’ve consciously worked with that when the actors have embodied them too, so we hope the audience can make their own inferences, leaving the theatre perhaps questioning what brought them to those conclusions. Most of the characters are known simply by letters. There is one character named Fred, but Winifred or Frederick, or anywhere in between, you make up your mind!
The actors’ views of Sticks and Stones
Lucy plays B
“This show is hilarious, absurd and I love that everything is up for speculation! Whether you’re a Baby Boomer, Millennial or Generation XYZ, this show is something everyone can relate to.”
Jazz plays A, D, E & Fred
“It’s an excellent portrayal of how words matter. It shows that speaking before thinking can lead you into nightmarish situations with almost no escape, especially in the workplace”
Megan plays C, HR, Trainer & Kid
“Sticks And Stones makes you laugh but also makes you think. It shines a light on both sides of a complicated problem, where not enough thought leads to upset, but too much can lead to a rather straitjacketed world”
Sticks & Stones runs nightly from 10 – 14 September at the Old Fire Station, and tickets are on sale here.
Rehearsal images by Guy Jones.