Queensland Theatre’s 2017 season is the first to be programmed by incoming Artistic Director, Sam Strong who replaced Wesley Enoch last year.
Sam says the inclusion of ‘The Flick’ serves as an entrance point for what the company aims to achieve in the coming year. “I think for me this is a perfect storm of one of the best plays to come out of North America in the past five to ten years. It picks up a recurring theme in the 2017 season which is ‘bringing the best of elsewhere to Brisbane’, as well as taking the best of Brisbane to the rest of the country. ’The Flick’ is a really wonderful play by Annie Baker who’s an incredibly accomplished, strong, contemporary American playwright, and Brisbane hasn’t had much of a chance to see much of her work, or ‘The Flick’ specifically.”
Upon first reading the story, Sam says he was immediately captivated by Baker’s ability to weave an intricate, slow burning drama of everyday dilemma, and likens the playwright to a contemporary Chekhov.
“I was blown away by the quality of its observation,” he says. “It reminds me of a contemporary Chekhov in the way it deals with people’s unexpressed yearnings and how those play out. It’s also an exquisite piece; it’s really slow-burn naturalism where Annie Baker creates these amazing portraits of these painfully ordinary people. I read it and loved it, as well as her other work.”
Queensland Theatre will present what Sam considers to be a definitive production of ‘The Flick’ he first saw in Melbourne put on by Red Stitch Actors Theatre and directed by Nadia Tass.
“I was contemplating doing a new local version of ‘The Flick’ [but] having seen and been so moved and being blown away by the original version, it made sense to bring that up here and give people a chance to see that, rather than try to recreate it and hope lightning will strike twice.”
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Set in a crumbling Massachusetts movie theatre during the transition from analogue to digital film, ‘The Flick’ is a distinctively American tale, yet its exploration of the millions of dilemmas and dramas that make up the ordinary everyday makes it a universal story that Sam says retains relevance with an Australian audience. “Because we should be doing work that is urgent and work that is responding to contemporary society, the question of relevance is incredibly important,” he explains.
“What is beautiful about ‘The Flick’ is the quality of its observation of human behaviour and that’s what makes it so timeless. It’s one of those stories that takes a very specific context, in this case Massachusetts, at a particular time and that shift from analogue to digital in a cinema. It takes those specific circumstances and uses those to paint a universal portrait, or at least a portrait that we all recognise.”