We read an incredible play today called Hit the Wall, by Ike Holter. It was a heavily dialogue-driven, witty, sad, razor-sharp, rhythmic play that I think will stick with me for a very long time. Hit the Wall is about the Stonewall Riot, an event in 1969 that many historians seem to agree was the catalyst for the LGBT rights movement. It concerns characters that fall into a million different archetypes and stereotypes, but as stylized as the characters are, the play is eminently relatable–and painful for its relatability.
As a straight white male, I had (superficially) very little in common with the protagonists of Hit the Wall. They were gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transvestite, black, Chicano, etc. etc. patrons of the Stonewall, a gay bar in the East Village in New York. I am none of these things, and this speaks to how well-written this play was: every single character said something that resonated with me.
I had the privilege of reading for a character called Tano, a “member of the Snap Queen Team.” He is a gay Chicano who assumes a subtle choral role in the play (meaning he is somewhat outside the action and acts as a commentator on what’s going on in the play itself), and he spits insults and Spanglish like nobody’s business. He was one of the most fun table read characters I’ve ever read, but that’s beside the point. What I’m getting at here is that as I sat onstage listening to the action that Tano wasn’t involved in, I was involuntarily flexing my arms and hands and jaw and clenching and biting and otherwise viscerally reacting to what was happening. Every single event made me want to hit someone, or snap my fingers like I was listening to a slam poem, or bite my own hands off.
That sounds crazy. But it’s true. Hit the Wall is an indisputably great play. It makes bold statements about historic events while staying fully in the present. It means something today, even though it’s based on events that happened over forty years ago.
Read it. It’s so worth your time.