People caught in the crosshairs of change
In an old-style movie house in a rundown region, three ushers play out their lives in the empty aisles, unknowingly facing obsolescence in Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Flick.”
The show runs 8 p.m. June 14 to 16, and 21 to 23, and 2 p.m. June 17 and 24 in Adray Auditorium in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center at Henry Ford College, 5101 Evergreen, Dearborn.
The dramatic comedy, which also won an Obie Award for Playwriting, follows three movie ushers, who run the 35-millimeter projector and mop up the messes, and deliver the conversation that reflects their lives, including their confrontations and heartbreak.
In an unusual twist, the actors will perform in the house, where the audience usually sits, while the audience watches the action unfold from the stage.
Directed by Brandon Grantz of Dearborn Heights, the cast includes Corey Travis of Detroit as Avery, Jesse Mattox of Woodhaven as Sam, Sasha Joelle Johnson of Redford Township and Kaylin Reed of Dearborn Heights double-cast as Rose, and Christian Matthews of Detroit and John Jakupco of New Boston double-cast as Skyler and The Dreaming Man.
Grantz said the play is about everyday people and the struggles they face.
“Not a lot of plays these days deal with stuff like that,” he said. “No one dies, no one gets shot, there’s no huge climax. It’s day-to-day situations with people, based on this job they all have.”
Grantz said the writing and how true it is to life earned playwright Annie Baker the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
“She gives the actors and the audience a really good sense of time,” he said. “She takes pauses, there is time for you to reflect on what’s going on, and there is a lot of discomfort in those pauses that adds to the situation and the struggles that the characters are going through.”
Grantz said the human interactions in the show are timeless, while the timeliness of the show focuses on a business that is closing and being replaced with something else.
“We’re changing into the ‘better future,’ and losing touch with the things that were so simple and made life joyful,” he said. “Technology can make things great, but it also makes things hectic.”
Mattox said people will relate to the characters’ worries about job security and trying to make ends meet.
“There are a lot of appealing things, from the characters themselves, to the situations they are in, to the overall environment and feel of the show,” Maddox said.
Mattox said the show is different from most plays.
“It’s contemporary, and it’s real conversations and real people,” he said. “The way it plays out is bittersweet and beautiful.”
Johnson said the play’s dialogues are appealing.
“The way we communicate, in such a naturalistic way, will stand out,” she said. “The vernacular, the slang that we use, is appealing.”
Johnson said the play is about human feelings and behaviors, and that her character, who is more assertive that she is, has no filter.
Reed, who plays the same role, said she describes her character as “spontaneous and edgy,” and said the part is helping her grow as an actress.
“She goes for what she wants, and I feel like she is the complete opposite of me, but I can relate to her because I can be spontaneous around people I am comfortable with,” she said. “She knows what she wants, but sometimes she doesn’t take people’s feeling into consideration.”
Reed said she tells people that they will relate to the show’s characters.
Jakupco said he compares the play’s characters to those from “Seinfeld.”
“Put the characters into the teens to twenties age range, and stick them all in a movie theater,” Jakupco said. “It’s a bunch of people going through work. It’s something everyone goes through. It captures that essence.”
Travis said people will see how others react to situations in which they have found themselves.
He said his character is reserved and doesn’t speak on impulse, yet has an enthusiastic energy for the things that appeal to him.
“This is probably the first character I see all of myself in, but I am not as much of a pushover as he is,” Travis said.
He said the show is something to which we can all relate.
“We all have awkward moments, we all have heartbreaking moments and we all have anger-filled moments,” Travis said. “You are going to see how other people reacted, and you can look back and see how you could have done things differently.”
The play contains profanity and adult content. Tickets are $12, with a $2 discount for HFC faculty, staff and students. To purchase tickets, go to hfcc.edu/campus-life/theatre.