Timothy D. Stickney (ex-RJ, OLTL) just finished directing his sister Phyllis Yvonne Stickney in the Take Wing and Soar production of Pecong at the National Black Theatre in Harlem, N.Y.The play, by Steve Carter, is “a retelling of Medea in the Caribbean around the turn of the century,” explains Stickney. “The late 1800s. It’s not set on any particular island, and it’s intended to be allegorical, so the setting is very minimal and material. That was a challenge. You know, sometimes, the more freedom you have in staging, the more difficult it can be to really lock it down.”
Although Medea is not known for being a laugh riot, this version “you laugh through,” he says. “The audience has a good time. We’ve had a good variety of young audiences mixed with theater professionals and civilians.”
And the production was a real family affair. “It was a good opportunity for my sister to work with me. I didn’t know we would be working quite so closely,” Stickney notes. “She plays Medea’s grandmother, who is a main engine of the piece, along with Medea. So Phyllis Stickney is our draw. We have an unknown, very young, new actress playing Medea.”
Directing and acting in the theater has been keeping Stickney busy since he left OLTL. In fact, this April, he’ll be heading north to Canada for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. “Up there for the season (nine months long), I do three shows and repertory. This year, my first rehearsal is April 20. I did Caesar and Cleopatra two seasons ago with Christopher Plummer.”
Stickney will again work with Plummer — he was one of the actors Plummer specifically requested — this time in The Tempest. Plummer plays Prospero; Stickney is Sebastian.
“He’s a pro. I learned a lot from him, and he’s a star,” says Stickney about his famous co-star. “Mr. Plummer’s not a young man, and we work long hours on our feet. Aside from a few occasions, he was there standing up all day with us, and never complained. He did it with us, and many in the company are barely out of their 20s. I saw him command the audience from the stage in a way I have not seen other actors do.”
Stickney is as comfortable directing as he is acting. But which does he prefer? “I guess the easy answer is, I still prefer acting,” he admits. “Mostly, it’s a selfish thing. As an actor, you get to focus on yourself. The director has to think about everybody. They both require great mental effort. Acting, obviously, is a bit more physical.”
Longtime RJ watchers will note in the photo that Stickney has cut off his dreadlocks. “I had locks for 21 years,” he says. But he still has possession of them. “I wanted something I could work with onstage [and] for the camera, and the festival agreed to pay for it, so I cut my hair. [Now] I have a custom-made, high-quality wig made of my very own hair,” smiles Stickney.
For information on the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, go to www.stratfordfestival.ca.