Theatre and Activism. My Tuesday Night.

Who doesn’t love a provocative piece of theatre? Classic musicals will always have their toe-tapping charm, but there’s nothing like a play that leaves you inspired and perturbed. On Tuesday night, “Hit the Wall,” an exciting play by Chicago playwright Ike Holter, did just that.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company of Chicago describes the play like this:

“It’s the summer of ’69 and the death of music icon Judy Garland has emboldened her gay followers. A routine police raid on an underground Greenwich Village hotspot erupts in to a full-scale riot, the impetus of the modern gay rights movement. That’s the well-known, oft-rehearsed myth of Stonewall, anyhow. Smash that myth against the vivid theatrical imagination of playwright Ike Holter, add a howling live rock ‘n roll band, and you get the world premiere play, Hit the Wall. Remixing this historic confrontation reveals ten unlikely revolutionaries, caught in the turmoil and fighting to claim ‘I was there.'”

“Hit the Wall” was first produced by The Inconvenience in Chicago, and then moved to the Barrow Street Theatre, just steps away from the Stonewall Inn. I walked down those very streets where the riots  happened only a few decades ago to get to the theatre. Talk about surreal. Even more surreal was watching one of my close high school friends perform with this brilliant ensemble cast. I always knew Arturo Soria would have a brilliant career. I also knew him when he was just Arthur. Sitting in that audience, I was so proud of his selfless, honest, and intelligent performance.

This production is a must see. I don’t enjoy writing theatre critiques; I did enough of them in college, but I do enjoy discussing the experience. So please, go see this highly relevant and passionate piece of theatre, and then we can go get coffee and talk about how fabulous it was. I will, however, leave you with a few comments about the performance.

I felt helpless at many times throughout the show. This play is very up-front about our society’s view of homosexuality in the late 60’s, and as an audience member you realize how not much has changed today. Yes, we are making progress when it comes to equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, however, equality is more than a law. Equality is a viewpoint, and unfortunately, many American’s still choose to be blind. Barrow Street Theatre could not have picked a better time to produce this play. As the Supreme Court hears cases on marriage equality, we are reminded of all the work that still needs to be done.

I loved the experimental space, the lighting, the poetic use of language, and intimate blocking. I also loved looking at all the extremely handsome men in the audience. Although, let’s be serious, I wasn’t their type.

 There he is! Arturo Soria! So proud!

Arturo, my sister Mary, and myself. Friends for about a decade!

Let me know what you think!

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