Pour in “Flex”, which is at Previews at Lincoln Center TheatreAt the Mitzi E. Neuhaus Theatre, potential actors recorded themselves playing basketball as part of the audition process. Jones and the show’s director, Liliana Blaine Cruz, who both played basketball in high school, said they wanted basketball played on stage to look and feel real.
“People have different styles, different ways of portraying, different personalities, different kinds of swagger,” Blain-Cruz said. “We care about the individual in what role they play and how they play it. And I think that goes with the theatre.”
Jones’ play, which is set in rural Arkansas, tells the story of a high school girls’ basketball team in 1998, which is in line with the WNBA’s sophomore year. creative team. Once the cast was set, some of the rehearsals weren’t about staging at all: The cast was practicing basketball at nearby John Jay College.
“There’s a kind of quality to the group,” Blain-Cruz said of the sport. “Like a group of actors playing together, a team of basketball players playing together. Together, they make the action.”
Minutes later, as Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” blasted off, Blain-Cruz led a warm-up with the cast that included hip openers and arm extensions. It could have doubled as pre-game preparation. The set itself had a basketball hoop hanging in the back and a basketball court drawn on the floor. Flex refers to a type of basketball team play that runs, and staging features several states of play.
“There is real rigor. Blaine Cruz said. “That’s what’s so satisfying, I think, about sports on stage. There’s an honesty to that, isn’t it? Dribbling is actually dribbling the ball. We don’t carry out the idea of dribbling the ball.”
After a recent outing at a New York Liberty game, actress Erica Matthews, whose character Starra Jones is the 17-year-old on the fictional team, said watching the players reminded her of watching live stage performances.