Tony-winning creative Sarah Jones is slated to begin production on a documentary adaptation of her 2016 off-Broadway one-woman show Sell/Buy/Date in March of 2021. Jones’ show, in which she plays more than ten characters, evaluates the inextricable ties between sex work, the prison industrial complex and racial, gendered dynamics of power. Meryl Streep, Laverne Cox and Rashida Jones will executive produce the doc, which will include interviews with experts and some of the sex workers whom Jones first engaged with when developing Sell/Buy/Date for the stage.
Filming plays and musicals distorts the coveted ephemerality of the theater experience, but filmed versions of stage productions also equalize the access people have to those exciting on-stage stories. Spike Lee’s energetic direction of David Byrne’s American Utopia for example, gave HBO Max subscribers and Talking Heads fans across the pandemic-ridden world a panoramic perspective of Byrne’s grayscale concert experience, a-la 1986’s Stop Making Sense. Certainly more people viewed American Utopia, one that we considered one of 2020’s best, than could fit into Broadway’s Hudson Theater where it was first staged.
Similarly, Sarah Jones is likely to bring the undergirding meditations of her heralded stage performance to a larger audience with this corresponding documentary. Jones’ collaboration with Streep, who produced Jones’ Tony-winning play Bridge & Tunnel; sex documentary vet Rashida Jones, who produced Netflix’s Hot Girls Wanted; and Cox, who produced Disclosure, a Netflix documentary about on-screen transgender representation, is a prime example of the power of women in film. While film franchises tuned to the key of Girl Boss garner significant attention, projects like Jones’ exemplify the narrative and creative formidability that women are demonstrating on and off-stage.