A PULITZER PRIZE WINNING PLAY BY ANNIE BAKER
DIRECTED BY DEWEY SCOTT-WILEY
SPONSORED BY THE NICKELODEON
In a run-down movie theater in central Massachusetts, three underpaid employees mop the floors and attend to one of the last 35 millimeter film projectors in the state. Their tiny battles and not-so-tiny heartbreaks play out in the empty aisles, becoming more gripping than the lackluster, second-run movies on screen. With keen insight and a finely-tuned comic eye, “The Flick” is a hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world.
It takes about three hours and 15 minutes to watch the London production of Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “The Flick,” about employees at a seen-better-days movie theater. A chunk of that time is spent watching the actors leisurely sweep up trash. With over 100 seats on the set, that’s a ton of tidying.
But in a recent production of “The Flick” at the tiny Threshold Repertory Theater in Charleston, S.C., audiences were in and out in just over two hours. That’s what happens when your fictional movie theater has just 24 chairs.
“They didn’t spend a lot of time cleaning up,” said Courtney Daniel, the theater’s executive director. “Obviously we’ve got popcorn and things they have to pick up because it’s essential to the show, but I think the audience got it: You’re cleaning.”
Since the play had its debut at Playwrights Horizons three years ago, it has been produced some 50 times, with about 12 professional productions in North America this season (including one in an actual movie theater). Here, eight set designers talk about how they made their cinema worlds feel real on budgets that ranged from big to barely there, and reveal exactly where they got all those seats.
There’s dingy, then there’s Chet Longley’s design, which was inspired, he said, by a “worn-out mall where you got your potato skins at Bennigan’s before watching a movie.” The seats were given to the company by Spotlight Cinemas, a dollar movie theater in Columbia that was going digital. Most of the set, which had a budget of about $1,200, was assembled from “freecycled sources,” as Mr. Longley put it.
The coverings at the top of the seats are some sort of vinyl fabric that Mr. Longley figures were added by Spotlight Cinemas to extend the life of the fabric “and hide dirt and stains.”
Spotlight also lent the theater a 35-millimeter projector, reels and film canisters. The projector and the reels have to be returned, but the seats are going to a scrap salvager after the run ends.
2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama