In 1964, the New York advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach forever changed the course of political advertising with a 60-second television spot.
Today, the ad is usually referred to simply as “Daisy.”
The making of this groundbreaking and landscape-altering advertisement is the subject of Sean Devine’s play of the same title. Falcon Theatre, in a partnership with the College of Informatics at Northern Kentucky University, is producing Daisy as what director Tara Williams describes as “theater for film” and will be available for on-demand streaming from October 30 to November 7.
The black-and-white ad featured a three-year-old girl in a simple dress standing in a sunny field. The girl counted aloud as she plucked the petals from a daisy. When the last petal had been plucked, the girl’s voice was supplanted by an adult voice ominously counting backward from ten as the camera zoomed to an extreme close-up of the girl’s eye. As the countdown reached “zero,” the image was replaced with horrifying footage of a nuclear explosion.
“Daisy is a play that we have wanted to stage for a few years at Falcon, and we’ve been holding onto it until an election year because the play chronicles the beginnings of political attack ads,” Ms. Williams says. “And with live theater on hold during the pandemic, this project serves as a different creative outlet for our artists and production team and makes it possible to reach our audience in a new way.”
“The project,” Ms. Williams continues, “ will call to mind the days of CBS’s Playhouse 90, a television anthology drama series that aired from 1956 to 1961, which featured broadcasts of stagings of theater dramas and teleplays. The broadcasts relied heavily on wide shots and long camera takes. The result was a television/theater hybrid that became a staple of CBS’s primetime lineup for years.”
Daisy is currently in production and features David Levy, Lisa D. Dirkes, Jay Dallas Benson, Terry Gosdin, R. DeAndré Smith and Bill Keeton. Details for streaming the presentation will appear soon on Falcon’s website (www.falcontheater.net) and on Falcon’s Facebook and Instagram pages.