Once again, another weekend bubbles over with conflicting arts events.
If you plan carefully, you can see all the new plays that launch the fall season at the college and the arts center. In addition, the San Juan Symphony offers its season opener Saturday night in Durango and Sunday in Farmington. And, in between, the MET Live in HD unspools its five-hour Wagnerian marathon, also at Fort Lewis College.
The Fort Lewis College Theatre Department presents “The Flick,” by Annie Baker. In 2013, it premiered at Playwright Horizons in New York City and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2015. The Broadway production recently closed, but it’s running elsewhere around the world – and now – Durango. To say the least, it’s a coup d’teatre of sorts that FLC has secured the rights and opens its academic year with this remarkable play.
“It’s long,” a little over three hours, warns Director Theresa Carson, “but it’s worth the wait.” In an interview last week, Carson also quoted Christopher Isherwood’s review in the New York Times: “This lovingly observed play will sink deep into your consciousness.”
Set in a fictional, ’50s-style movie theater, “The Flick” takes place in the present. Under the likelihood the theater will soon “go digital,” three co-workers lament changing technology and get to know each other. It sounds bare-bones, and yet this workplace drama is fraught with eternal human tensions: how we relate to one another; how we mask ourselves; how we come to terms with our lives; how we navigate through uncertain terrain; and how we learn about our own moral compasses. That’s the brilliance of Baker’s micro-naturalism.
“The Flick” is something old and new at the same time. It’s not action-packed, not brimming over with theatrics or surrealism. It isn’t shocking or vulgar, sentimental or sensationalist. But it is full of the kind of bedrock conversation we all engage without realizing its deep significance. Having only read the play, I’m confident writing this. Now I can’t wait to see a production.
Carson has cast three FLC students (Joshua Canada, Alicia Aron and Izaäk VanderBrug) and invited New York guest actor, Sharod Choyce, to round out the cast. The audience will sit on stage for the performance. With 60 seats available, patrons are encouraged to make reservations early.
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The Durango Arts Center presents the sixth annual 10-Minute Play Festival. The five finalists in the DAC competition for this year’s 10-minute festival will get full presentations this weekend. Stylistically, they range from witty, deliberately cliché-ridden dialogue with a British accent to two conversation-based vignettes not unlike Baker’s approach to naturalism. In between, you’ll visit a generational conflict over Thanksgiving dinner and an unexpected ending to a job interview.
Out of a field of 107 scripts, DAC Theater director and her team selected 66 to move to a second round of judging. Out of those, 18 survived to a third round, and it all culminated in five finalists, presented as staged readings June 3. Audience members chose a favorite, and four local theater people – Marc Arbeeny, Ginny Davis, Mandy Gardner and Felicia Meyer – selected the grand prize winner.
“Lust, Greed, and Murder,” by New York playwright Matthew Widman, won the people’s choice award. Local writer CJ Alderton won the grand prize for his two-hander “Aengus & D’Arcy On a Bench in Dublin.” You’ll also see Stephen Cooper’s “Pool Story,” Letha Mae Dawson’s “Fork Food” and Kristin Andrea Hanratty’s “The Job Interview.”
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theater Critics Association.