‘The Flick’ brings audiences to the movies: Capstone inverts performance: action takes place in the seats, not on the stage

The Washington College Department of Drama production of The Flick. Photo by Paul W. Gillespie
The Washington College Department of Drama production of The Flick. Photo by Paul W. Gillespie

By Julia Clifton

Elm Staff Writer

The audience sat on the stage of Norman James Theater as the glimmering lights and flicking of a 35-mm film projector began the performance of “The Flick” this past weekend.

“The Flick,” written by Annie Baker, follows the story of three twenty-something movie ushers—Sam, Avery and Rose—as they work in a deteriorating movie theatre in Worchester, Massachusetts.

“The Flick” was a directing thesis by John Leslie and a performance capstone for Patrick Huff, who played Sam.

The show began as Avery, played by sophomore Derrick Carter, started working at the theater. Throughout the performance, the play focused on the interactions between Avery and his co-workers.

“[‘The Flick’] focuses on after the movie ends, they’re sweeping up the popcorn and talking about life and talking about their insecurities and why they do what they do,” Leslie said.

According to Leslie, however, the dialogue between the characters is less important than the unbroken silences that drew him and Huff to the show.

“I was fascinated by the premise of the play where it’s mostly silence, it’s them just sweeping up popcorn. Challenging how we experience theater is something I find fascinating,” Leslie said.

The silences also expose the awkwardness between the characters as they become closer  friends and bond over the tribulations of adulthood.

“Over the course of preparing for this show I’ve been able to get much more comfortable with the idea of just letting loose in front of others, and being unapologetically myself, which is something all of the characters really struggle with,” junior Maggie Giblin, who played Rose, the projectionist, said.

The heavier undertones of the show were interspersed with moments of comedy, through arguments about the movie “Avatar,” crew members throwing popcorn on the floor, and the running joke about a sleeping man who wouldn’t leave the theater.

“‘The Flick’ is a play that will make its audience laugh, cringe, fidget and hopefully soul- search a little bit,” Giblin said.

Tensions rise as the owner of The Flick makes plans to sell the theater, which means it would no longer use the film projector and would instead become a digital theater.

This particularly disgusts Avery, who advocated for movies to be watched exclusively on film.

The Flick ultimately gets sold and the new owner discovers Sam, Rose and Avery’s method of making “dinner money” by selling used ticket stubs and splitting the profits.

When Sam and Rose refuse to admit they were the ones who convinced Avery to execute the scheme despite his protests, Avery is fired.

The progression of the characters’ relationship from strangers, to nearly friends, to strangers once more encapsulates the message within the play regarding the role of silence in life.

“I hope the audience will think about the private battles people face every day and how we can learn so much from the mistakes we make if we have the courage to start a dialogue about them,” Giblin said.

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