When I first read Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize winner The Flick, I knew my students would relate to it. The story takes place in an old movie theatre in Massachusetts where they show movies on one screen using an old celluloid projector.
It tells the story of three co-workers: Sam, a 35-year-old former metal fan, Rose, a 25-year-old college dropout, and Avery, a 20-year-old movie aficionado. While these characters use strong language and talk about (school) inappropriate topics, it captures the zeitgeist of living in the modern world, where anxiety, relationship issues, depression, and family struggles dominate our psyches. In this play, films offer an escape from the daily existential crisis characters face. Additionally, this play questions the value of new technology in our modern, digital age, where people seem increasingly disconnected from each other.
I discovered the best way to use this play in class was to have them read some scenes aloud as a class, and then read others (the more awkward ones) to themselves. Never have I had so many students read ahead, ask to borrow books to take home, or re-read a text. This has been the most successful text I’ve used this year. I think some of that may have to do with the topics addressed in the play and the complexity of the characters. Also, the essential questions I used when teaching it address some of the big questions my seniors currently face.
- How do films and other visual media function as a means of escape in our modern world?
- To what extent do we “perform” our lives? (And what function does our “audience” play?
- How does living in a world of film and media impact our authentic selves?
Next weekend, my husband and I will go see The Flick performed live at the Signature Theatre in Alexandria, VA, and I expect it will be as phenomenal as the reviews say it is. So if you’re looking for a new, engaging text for seniors at the end of the year, try this one and see how excited your students will be.
(image from the Signature Theatre’s Instagram Account)