Robert Hines III, ECC Theatre Adjunct Faculty and the director of this spring’s Circle Mirror Transformation, shares some of his thoughts on this exciting contemporary play about an community center acting class. Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker premiered Off-Broadway in 2009 and won the 2010 Obie Award for Best New American Play. ECC Theatre’s production of the play runs through May 6. Check out the director’s thoughts below! Thanks, Robert!
Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker is a voyeuristic look into a small acting class from the fictional town of Shirley, Vermont where we meet an unlikely cast of characters as they explore the glamorous world of acting.
From the beginning, we are drawn into the world of the play by a myriad of silly acting games that are familiar to anyone who has ever taking an acting class. Part of the play’s charm is that it is entertaining and hilarious to watch as the students figure out the acting games being played. This whimsical charm could make it easy for one to dismiss this play as a light satirical look at the profession of theater. But this play is so much more. Circle Mirror Transformation is a unique look at the fragile dynamics of relationships.
Annie Baker’s ingenious understanding of the subtleties of human interaction lays bare the hopes, fears, dreams, and haunting memories of each of the characters. As the play progresses, we begin to see glimpses into the characters’ private thoughts and the intricacies of their lives. The characters slowly peel back the layers of their past hurts and failures to reveal themselves to each other as they struggle to learn the acting games. This gradual reveal of the characters is where the play transforms into a wonderful exploration of humanity and we witness unexpected moments of intimacy and connection.
(Pause) What did you say?
(Silence) What did you really mean?
Through the use of a tightly scripted dialogue and the strategic use of pauses and silences, Annie Baker has captured something very powerful in the “real-life” games we play as we navigate through our personal relationships. The scenes and dialogue shift between a fast-paced staccato to a slow almost meditative state of being. This ebb and flow of rhythm and pace strikes a familiar balance between what we say and what we feel—leaving it up to the audience to fill the emotional space between the words and silences. Annie Baker spoke of this interplay of words and silence in her Author’s Notes to the cast, ”Without its silences, this play is a satire, and with its silences it is, hopefully a strange little naturalistic mediation on theater and life and death and the passing of time.”
-Robert Hines III, Director
ECC Theatre’s Circle Mirror Transformation continues its run April 27-May 6. For tickets and more information, visit elgin.edu/arts or call 847-622-0300.