- Premiered at Salt Lake Acting Company in 2016
- Directed by Richie Call
- Developed by the Fusion Theatre Project under the title Woodpecker King of Tacony
- Steinberg / American Theatre Critics Association Award nominee
- Osborn New Play Award nominee
- National New Play Network Showcase finalist
a full-length play by Shawn Fisher
Benji has recently returned home to his blue-collar neighborhood in North Philadelphia after being wounded overseas. Following the suicide of his stern and impetuous father, he finds himself without a place to live and moves in with his childhood friend Sam, an openly gay man and schoolteacher with a nurturing disposition. Benji’s domineering Catholic sister Elizabeth is unhappy with his choice and attempts to “protect” him from Sam’s influence. Benji, who bears the scars of war and of a lifetime of battles at home, continuously attempts to establish his masculinity as he heads down a dark and reckless path involving alcohol, pills and fighting. His wounds, both physical and emotional, limit his ability to take care of himself but provide him with financial compensation for his injuries, or as he puts it, his "lifetime supply of government dollars". Meanwhile he frequents the local "gentleman's club" and spends his time disrupting Sam's budding new relationship, fighting with his sister, and plotting to kill a woodpecker who loudly bangs the metal streetlights in the neighborhood.
"One of the best new plays and most eloquent productions I’ve seen in years."
- Salt Lake Tribune
"As good as [playwright Shawn Fisher's] previous premiere, "How to Make a Rope Swing," was... "Streetlight Woodpecker" is richer and deeper. Its indelibly etched characters capture the pain of going to war and the difficulty of healing and reconnecting in a fragmented society. You'll carry its images and these powerful performances with you long after you leave the theater."
- Salt Lake Tribune
"Fisher crafts dialogue and a story that pulses with its origins in a conservative working-class neighborhood, facilitating tremendous performances by the entire cast... [The text] favors the things that so often remain unspoken, even between people who care about one another. Streetlight Woodpecker lives in that space built on years of connection, with people as familiar as your own backyard."
- City Weekly
"While you can’t get a subject much heavier, the relationships that develop between Benji, his best friend Sam , and his sister, create a work that combines intensity, hilarious dialogue, and warmth. “Streetlight Woodpecker” examines the experience of veterans with PTSD and more widely, the negativities of how manhood is defined (or not defined) within society. Benji’s sometimes innocent, sometimes vicious hunt for the woodpecker parallels the play’s search for meaning in an absurd world of suffering, lost faith, and dwindling patriotism."
- 15 Bytes Magazine