Did they really not have enough money to take down the marquee sign for the theatre’s previous tenant, The Cripple of Inishmaan? Did they really just affix the new posters up there with pieces of duct tape?
Well, of course, no, they didn’t just slap the new art up there with spit and sealing wax. But that doesn’t mean the producers didn’t intend it to look as slapdash as it does.
“It is not taped up there,” said John Johnson, an executive producer of the Kenneth Lonergan play, which will star Michael Cera, Keiran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson. “From the street, it does look like it’s taped up there. It’s made to look like it’s taped up.”
The inventive artwork, which extended to the theatre's window cards and the production’s Playbill, was the work of BLT Communications, a firm founded in 1992 that has worked for countless films and television shows and also done work on stage shows such as A Raisin in the Sun and Betrayal.
“It came about during a conversation we were having about how there are no places to do wild postings in New York anymore,” said Johnson. “During the first round of discussions about how the show was going to be sold, somebody made the comment about how this is a ‘wild-posting show.’
"Ten years ago — and especially 15 or 20 years ago," Johnson continued, "you would be able to take over places in the East Village and West Village and even some construction sites in midtown and just have a string of wild-posting of the title treatment and then a wild posting of Michael Cera and then another wild-posting of the title treatment, and use that as being the artwork for it.”
Wild posting — also commonly known as fly posting and bill posting — is an advertising scheme as old as advertising. Typically it was used by small businesses or enterprises as a cheap and expansive way of getting the word out about a product, store or event. That form of advertising is now illegal in New York City in most instances. (Even so, it remains a common occurance.) However, simulating it is not. The creative team asked itself, “How do we create that spirit at the theatre?” Their answer was the current artwork, a facsimile of fly posting.
“It looks like someone came overnight and taped it over each one of the cases with tape and thumbtacks and staples,” observed Johnson.
This staging marks the first time This Is Our Youth, a critical and popular hit Off-Broadway in 1996, is being presented on Broadway. It is also Kenneth Lonergan’s Broadway debut. The cast of the mounting — which was first staged at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago — star as three privileged New York kids in 1982 who lack direction and end up in trouble after an ill-conceived robbery: just the sort of kids that might wild-post a bunch of bills on an East Village construction shed for a few bucks.