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What to expect from Riverside Theatre's 2022-23 additions, including the upcoming show 'The Flick'

Riverside Theatre has made it easier for Iowa City audiences to see a play sometime over the next nine months, thanks to two new additions to their 2022-2023 season.

On Nov. 4, the theater announced on Facebook that their season will now include “The Roommate” and “Everybody,” rounding out a season of previously five shows and their annual tradition of Shakespeare in the Park in Lower City Park.

The Press-Citizen spoke with artistic producing director Adam Knight to learn more about the upcoming productions. But folks don’t have to wait until next year to see a captivating show.

Pulitzer Prize winning play “The Flick” is coming to audiences just one day after Thanksgiving.

"The Flick," by Annie Baker, follows three underpaid employees at a Massachusetts movie theater. Riverside Theatre will present the show from Nov. 25 to Dec. 11.
"The Flick," by Annie Baker, follows three underpaid employees at a Massachusetts movie theater. Riverside Theatre will present the show from Nov. 25 to Dec. 11.

What is 'The Roommate' about?

It’s a play, as described on Riverside Theatre’s website, that has been described as “The Odd Couple” meets “Breaking Bad.”

“The Roommate” follows Sharon, who is recently divorced and whose son lives across country. She seeks a roommate for her now empty home and is soon joined by Robyn, who needs a place to hide and start over.

University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop graduate Jen Silverman wrote “The Roommate” and set it in Iowa City.

“The Roommate” hasn’t been performed in Iowa City, despite it taking place and drawing inspiration from the city, Knight said.

Published in 2017, the dark comedy is a two-person show that will be directed by Nina Morrison.

It will run from April 28 to May 14.

More:Riverside Theatre kicks off new season with a comedy involving a chipmunk. Check out what's to come.

What is 'Everybody' about?

A modern riff on the 15th century play “Everyman,” “Everybody” follows the character of the same name as they explore the meaning of life while they travel towards their own end.

“Everybody,” by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, was a 2018 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Folks who see “Everybody” will never see the same production twice, Knight said. That’s because each performance, the nine actors involved in the production will be chosen by a lottery to play the role of Everybody.

It’s intentional on the playwright's part, he said.

“It speaks to the theme of the play that in life were handed a series of random given circumstances whether by our birth or the place we've lived or how fate affects us,” Knight said.

"I think that's what the playwright (is) getting at is that we have to be prepared for anything and sometimes we're the hero in our life story and other times we're a supporting player in someone else's life story. We just have to show up and play our part.”

Knight said the play deals with themes especially relevant to today’s audiences.

“Is there a meaning to the randomness (of) who gets sick? Who stays well? What does it mean when we're facing the great unknown, which is what happens after our time here is over?” he said.

Knight said it’s exciting to bring nine actors on stage and present “the amazing talent” located in the corridor.

“This is a play that really showcases every one of the cast members,” he said. “It's a play that allows for a lot of fluidity in casting not only having to do with race and gender, but also body types and age, and it's a great opportunity to showcase amazing artists that are here and all come together and tell a story.”

“Everybody” will be directed by Bo Fraizer and will mark their Riverside Theatre directorial debut.

It will run from July 21 through Aug. 6.

‘The Flick’ is playing at Riverside Theatre next. Here’s what to expect.

Ren Price and Claire Boston star in "The Flick" by Annie Baker, which follows three underpaid employees at a Massachusetts movie theater.
Ren Price and Claire Boston star in "The Flick" by Annie Baker, which follows three underpaid employees at a Massachusetts movie theater.

The story follows three young, underpaid employees navigating their lives while they attend to one of the last 35mm film projectors in a Massachusetts movie theater named The Flick.

Angie Toomsen, director, told the Press-Citizen in an email that while digital innovation has grown significantly in the last decade, it’s created “vastly new ways to hide from one another.”

“These characters have such a difficult time articulating what’s going on inside them and asking for what they need, and their go-to response is to talk about films they’ve seen. Actors they love,” she said.

It’s through films that they can connect and find a common ground, Toomsen said. That shared connection through film adds another element for audiences to engage with in “The Flick.”

“I think the play is also something of a love letter to what movies and to the act of storytelling and how that can sometimes give us the vocabulary and the reference points that we might not otherwise have,” Knight said.

More:Dreamwell Theatre in Iowa City began 25 years ago. For two founders, the milestone is 'amazing.'

“The Flick,” by Annie Baker, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2014.

It is described on the Pulitzer Prizes’ website that “The Flick” is a “thoughtful drama with well-crafted characters” that renders “lives rarely seen on the stage.”

Baker is a playwright and educator.

Toomsen said she wanted to direct this production because Baker’s work “mirrors the way that we express, or fail to express, our wants and needs” amid our increasingly digital world.

“Her characters and scenarios are poetically mundane and familiar, but reveal an almost operatic emotional undercurrent,” she said. “Her writing is deeply layered and provides so much opportunity for character development.”

“The Flick” will run from Nov. 25 to Dec. 11. Visit Riverside Theatre’s website to purchase tickets.

Paris Barraza covers entertainment, lifestyle and arts at the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Reach her at PBarraza@press-citizen.com or (319) 519-9731. Follow her on Twitter @ParisBarraza.

This article originally appeared on Iowa City Press-Citizen: Riverside Theatre brings Pulitzer winner 'The Flick' to Iowa City