The Flick Summary and Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 35-page guide for “The Flick” by Annie Baker includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 2 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender and The Performance of Daily Life.
The Flick is a two-act play by Annie Baker that premiered at the New York City Playwrights Horizons theater in 2013. Set in a run-down movie theater of the same name, The Flick is located in the suburban Worchester County of central Massachusetts. The play follows the evolving workplace relationships of three underpaid movie theater employees as they struggle not only to make a living but to define their lives, their values, and their identities within jobs that diminish their self-worth.
Though The Flick was met with critical acclaim—winning an Obie Award for Playwriting in 2013 and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2014—numerous audience members expressed concerns about the slow-pacing and over-three-hour performance time of the play. The Playwrights Horizons Artistic Director, Tim Stanford, even sent out a letter to over 3,000 season subscribers, defending his decision not to edit down the play’s length. The play’s director, Sam Gold, cited that the slow-pacing of dialogue is critical for Baker’s particular brand of comedic timing, helping to develop the atmosphere of deadpan humor that arises from mundane, monotonous labor.
Much of the play’s length is also generated from extended moments wherein the characters do not speak, spending several minutes of stage time wordlessly sweeping, mopping, and gathering waste left behind by the filmgoers. In these moments, the audience is encouraged to examine the subtle body language and rhythms of each character’s movements, and to become absorbed in the sounds and sensations of their work.
The three main characters of The Flick are Sam, a white man in his mid-thirties who wears a Red Sox cap and lives at home with his parents; Rose, a young female projectionist with dyed green hair and baggy clothes who is taking a break from college; and Avery, a black, bespectacled student who is also taking a break from the same college and working in a theater to nourish his deep love of film. Though complexly drawn and sympathetic, each character features traits that are often stereotyped based on race, class, and gender. As the private dramas of each character converge in the theater where they work, The Flick spotlights the performative quality of these stereotypes, which are acted out much like roles in a film.
Using her unique understated humor—both in her characters’ spoken and nonverbal conversations—Baker touches on many themes of importance to millennials. The Flick addresses issues of underemployment, economic instability, racial inequality, disappointed expectations, and the specter of an uncertain future.