Playwright: Jim Jackson
Running Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes (no intermission)
Date of Performance: Friday, October 23, 2015.
Heads up. This post will include very little detail about the arc of the story. Details would ruin the experience, and I could not handle that level of guilt.
Any theater piece with a one person cast is risky. Jim Jackson wrote Stick Guns, and he is the only actor on the stage for the entire performance. The script is “semi-autobiographical,” so Jackson is very familiar with the central character. He steps out on the stage in the first scene, stick gun in hand, and walks that one man show tightrope for nearly 90 minutes. He doesn’t waiver, he doesn’t stumble, and he certainly never falls off that tightrope. He carries Stick Guns with the skill of a talented actor and the confidence of a man with something important to say.
I sat in my seat for a full 30 seconds after Jackson finished 85 minutes later, feeling like I had been punched in the gut. Then I did what everyone else did. I stood up. I clapped. I brushed away a tear. I thought about the power of theater, and the impact Stick Guns had on every person in the room that night.
Jackson grew up in southern Colorado; Cañon City to be precise. Cañon City is arguably different from most other places. The local industry is prisons. The prisons in Cañon City are also the biggest employer, staffing the facilities with locals as guards, maintenance people, and administrative staff. The local citizens also provide the prisons with food services and many other assorted necessities. Despite the symbiotic relationship, it’s an unusual situation. There is literally a wall between the citizens of Cañon City and its temporary residents. If your early childhood included emergency drills for prison breaks, you might be from Cañon City.
It is in this unique environment that Jackson tells the story of his childhood….