We all spend the vast majority of our lives being taught about history by old people. Or at least, people older than us. Sometimes, theater can feel the same way. Like everything is being written, directed, and mounted by people older than we are, and targeted at people older than us, too.
The coolest thing about Hit the Wall, a new play about the Stonewall Riots, now open at the Barrow Street Theater? You get the sense that you’re learning about this seminal moment in history–why it’s important, why it’s still relevant–from people your age. Young ones, just like the people who were there that very night in 1969. The language feels modern and fresh, even while remaining true to the period. The characters are young and sharp and brightly drawn. You know these people. They are like you.
In Hit the Wall, history comes alive in an instantly relatable way, which may or may not be due to the fact that the playwright, Ike Holter is actually 27 years old. And director Eric Hoff doesn’t look much older than that. We learned this at an after-show talkback–the first in a series–where we had the chance to hear the cast interact with a man who was actually at the riots himself. The dialogue was amazing.
Which of course, leads us to the other cool thing about Hit the Wall. You know, besides the fact that it speaks directly to a new generation of theater goers and activists and feeling human beings. It’s awesome. And you should absolutely go see it.
Photo: Matt Murphy