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‘Working for the Yankee Dollar’: the Ordinary job made extraordinary in The Flick

This weekend, DramaSoc’s production of Annie Baker’s The Flick opens in the Drama Barn. Director Joe Willis tells us all about this unique play that looks at the trials and tribulations of working in a cinema.

During the seventy or so years that you will live on this planet, you will spend at least 15% of it working. This is not only a statistic to make the start of this post look clever but also a realisation that in our very short space of time alive, a good chunk of it will be spent working on your 9 to 5 job. Depressing right? Well, maybe not if you’re an astronaut or an Oscar Winning actor but for most people they will have to cope with a job, that they can’t stand, under a boss they dislike and mostly done just to pay the bills.

It’s strange therefore that such a big part of our lives, and one that causes so much grief for many people, is hardly ever addressed in our media. We see a lot of stories about people who have jobs, however it is never about their work life, instead looking more at external events that affect them. For example Iron Man was never about Tony Stark filing his taxes, and whilst you might cry out that “Tony Stark’s job is being Iron Man”, my answer would be “stop being so picky and also what are you doing in my house?”

The thing is, there is this perception that no-one wants to see ordinary people doing ordinary jobs, the crappy careers that people do not for their passion for retail but because they need to afford rent. This perception is that it would be boring, and that if you wanted to do that, you would nip down to the local Argos (other retail shops are available) and just stare through the window. Firstly, that would be creepy, but secondly in the right hands ordinary people doing ordinary jobs can be just as tense, heart-breaking, and funny as any other story.

This is what Annie Baker’s ‘The Flick’ does so well, it turns the ordinary story of three employees at a rundown cinema in America into one of the most gripping and emotional plays in recent memory, even when the closest thing to a crisis is someone dropping pudding in the aisle. By having all three main characters practically on stage for the whole time, we become enveloped in their world, their little moments of both joy and tragedy.

Our production of this wonderful play, (the UK premiere of it in fact) aims to add and expand on this by trying something different with the set. Without spoiling too much, it can be said that we start the audience off as if they are looking through the back of a cinema screen at the characters, like a scientist looking through a microscope and we build from there. Oh, and there’s also free popcorn.

Hopefully with this, we hope to add to the wonderful writing of Annie Baker, making this a visual treat as well, as an intellectual and entertaining one. Not only that, but if we get it right as Baker already has is make the ordinary, extraordinary, the mundane gripping and maybe next time you walk past that Argos, you will look differently at that employee, and wonder just what makes him tick. Or failing that at least make, Iron Man 4: Tax Evasion seem like a good idea for Marvel.

Dramasoc’s production of Annie Baker’s The Flick, directed by Joe Willis and produced by Adam Brain and Amelia Hamilton, runs from the 9th October-11th October. Performances begin at 7.30pm and take place in the Drama Barn at the University of York. For more information on the performance and how to buy tickets see www.yorkdramasoc.com.