Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Flick

Oh how the stars can sometimes align. I got a pair of tickets to see Annie Baker's new play The Flick, which is set in a small movie theater in New England. I used to work in a small movie theater in New England. I am still friends with all the people who run the small movie theater in New England. I invited my friend Phoebe, the daughter of two of the owners of the small movie theater in New England, to see if she could come with me. I was delighted that she was. While we hung out in the lobby before the show, we talked about how her parents and friends had sold the theater—not to a multiplex, but to a non-profit that was set up to support independent film in Central Maine. We were talking about how now that there's some money, the theater is converting over to digital from 35mm, and how on the one hand, that's incredibly sad after so many years of projecting 35mm. And I remembered what it felt like to set up and break down the reels, and to feel the film run between my fingers, and the time I made a mistake and spliced the wrong film into the right film and then projected it. I can never remember (I think I was too mortified to fully form the memory) but I think one of the reels was Last Temptation of Christ, and the other was, let's say, definitely not. So we were talking about this transition from film to digital, and then we went into the theater at Playwrights Horizons, and we were immediately confronted with a beautiful set of a space we have both spent hundreds and thousands of hours in. The slightly ratty seats of a movie theater and the windows of the projection booth, the lens of a 35mm projector peering through. When the action of the play starts, two guys are cleaning popcorn and soda (and other unmentionables) from the floor, something Phoebe and I have done hundreds and thousands of times. And within the first few minutes, we learn that this theater might be losing its 35mm projectors and converting to digital. A collective breath from the two of us, and we settled in for a 3-hour masterpiece. This is why we live in New York. To see great theater about a small movie theater in New England.

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