When people talk to me about ILLEGAL USE OF HANDS, they often say: “This is so different from your other plays.” Well. Huh. Maybe. From the outside looking in, I kinda get the point. But from the inside, from where I live and look out at the world – this play is right at the center of my heart, right alongside/inside most of the stuff I’ve written. It reminds me of a long time ago when I wrote a movie that was about a gay hustler in New York – and was simultaneously writing for a pre-school children’s tv show on Nickelodeon. Hollywood seemed confused by that… but for me, it was all part of the jumbled rough-housing that’s going on inside my writer’s heart. If you took an x-ray of it I think it would all look like yearning and desperation and invention and resilience and heartbreak and surprise. If I’m writing about a kid maybe it’s a story that’s drunk with the tension between infinite possibilities and the lack of power. And if I’m writing about the three guys in ILLEGAL USE OF HANDS maybe it’s a story that’s drunk with Scotch and disappointment and the shocking need for connection. For me, all of it fits together, all of it vies for my attention… they all keep me up at night.
– James Still, playwright