Revolutionaries in Stilettos: Hit the Wall Documents a Flashpoint in Gay History

By Harry Haun
04 Mar 2013

Ike Holter
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
Going deeper and getting closer to the riots, Holter got comfortable and courageous enough to back off a bit and just dramatize it without dutifully sticking to the facts.

"I don't think it's important to say this man named Thomas Michael was actually there," he explained. "I think Thomas Michael might prefer it if we just made a piece of theatre that represented what actually happened. There are scenes where you, as a member of the audience, might say, 'Oh, I remember hearing that story about how this person threw a trashcan at a cop,' but we don't draw anybody out by name.

"These are full, fresh, new characters — black, Latino, white. There's a lot of good age-ranges here, too. As a writer, I'm interested in voices from the margins, finally giving them the spotlight. In other plays or films, they'd just be side characters.

"The funny thing about the riot is there are a million different viewpoints of how it went down, so there's a lot of liberty for me in that — but, at the same time, I'm very conscious of things like the weather and police reports and when the police first went into the bar. Then we have the characters fill in the actual, breathing dialogue."

Along the way, were there naysayers trying to tell him that the event was too big for the stage? "Sure. This is a riot. How do you do that? Well, I'm a weird writer anyway so I like merging fight scenes with dance numbers, back and forth. We have a live rock band. There's fast dialogue, there's nudity, there's all this other stuff, but, by the end of the day, I want audiences to care about these people who'd endured enough."

Holter personalizes his battlefield on several fronts. The values at stake here filter through the degrading ordeal of a defiant drag queen (Nathan Lee Graham) and the crisis-of-conscious confronting a strapping lesbian (Rania Salem Manganaro) being lured back into the family fold by her caring, foursquare sister (Jessica Dickey). Both outsiders, forced to the brink of self-denial, realize it's time to make a stand.

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Ike Holter amd Eric Hoff
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN