The Little Bit Coltish Sticks and Stones

In this interview we chat to Sticks and Stones, the last performer in the play Catapult Design to feature in this series. Ahead of the play’s imminent release, we discuss a comparison to an 85 year old actress, and why this was the play to draw Sticks and Stones back into the spotlight.

In 1961 Emmanuelle Riva picked up her first BAFTA nomination for the stunning French-Japanese co-production Hiroshima mon amour, a cinematic work of art variously described by numerous critics and filmmakers as one of the most important works of the sound era. After such a blockbuster breakout, you might expect Riva to have gone on to stunning heights, but it was a full 52 years before her next nomination (and win) as an octogenarian for Amour in 2013. Not that there hadn’t been work in between, mind, but that work had tended to fly under the radar, at least to many of those enchanted by her lead role debut.

It might seem a stretch at first glance, but this interviewer sees a number of similarities between Riva and Sticks and Stones, who takes on a supporting role in the Lynch-inspired Catapult Design, set to premiere in mere days. Firstly, there is the obvious Japanese connection, with Sticks and Stones’ legs reminiscent of a bamboo forest, and seat of a sculpted stone. Beauty, simplicity, and attention-to-detail so prevalent in Japanese construction and art.

But running deeper is the sense that neither are quite what you expect them to be. Riva is notoriously publicity shy, and her modesty is shared by Sticks and Stones both overtly and discretely. Sticks and Stones also shuns the limelight and never seemed to lust after global fame despite early success. And the discovery that that seat is not made of stone, but a concrete and rubber off-cut conglomerate, keeps the mystery going.

‘You know, I’ve never heard that comparison,’ Sticks and Stones says quietly, almost stand-offishly. One gets the impression that this interview was a contractual obligation and is being offered pleasantly only because it has to be. ‘However, it is definitely one I now relish. Perhaps my favourite. Her career extended well beyond the flashbulbs of the paparazzi and encompassed so many interesting facets, that if I am in any way somewhat comparable, that is a true compliment of the highest order.’

While Sticks and Stones does not have the same five-decade history of performance, comparisons can be drawn with Riva’s career choices after that initial blinding launch to stardom. Both shied away from the limelight, with Riva staying in France and Sticks and Stones selecting smaller pieces, often well away from marquees upon which to even hang a name. Why, then, a return in this star-laden vehicle, guaranteed to draw attention?

‘There are stars that aren’t interesting, and stars that are,’ Sticks and Stones noted. ‘And my colleagues in Catapult Design might be stars, yes, but they’re also some of the most interesting and exciting performers out there. To have a collection of both established and emerging actors, all with such talent and nuance, is unheard of, really. Combine it with the stunning script, and there’s no way anyone in their right mind could say no. Not even me.’

And this writer couldn’t imagine the play without that decision. While it might not quite be Sticks and Stones’ Amour, not yet, it will at the very least be the show that keeps him in the minds of the viewer, hopefully for a minimum of 52 years to come.

More in this series of interviews:
Drool Worthy Dollop
Obelisk, the Alternative Rock
Lotus Seed Pod, Flirty yet Crisp
The Leggy, but Stern, Hunter
Rigorous Dusan
Acrobatic Me Too, the Temptress