Up next at The University of South Carolina’s Lab Theater is Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation. The show opens this weekend and is directed by Jamie Boller, an undergraduate senior majoring in both Theatre and English.
Circle Mirror Transformation follows 5 people in a six-week adult acting class taught by a woman named Marty (Jasmine James). In the class the Marty has the other 4 play a variety of theatre exercises and games, including one called “Circle Mirror Transformation”, and throughout the play the story weaves between flashes of these games and bits of the characters’ lives before, during, and after the class.
“The show is all about opening up to other human beings and allowing yourself to have a genuine connection with someone else”, Boller explains, “… Baker's dialog is startlingly naturalistic, and I love that. Her story is about real people; it has an incredible rawness about it.” So more than anything, Circle Mirror is about the characters themselves. How they interact and connect with one another, and how we, as humans, can learn from that. Boller states, “And acting, as an art form, is about a lot of self-discovery and self-understanding so when a bunch of strangers start looking through that lens, and just connecting as people do, the things that blossom out of that are random and weird and beautiful.”
Circle Mirror is a play about real life and therefore is a play that has a genre that is hard to define; for in the world there is suffering, but also humor. It is hard to give life a genre. First-year MA Theatre candidate Ryan Stevens, who is playing James, Marty’s husband, explains, “There’s also a lot of humor, in the play and in the character, which I always enjoy. And it’s not like stand-up comedian humor, it’s all rooted in emotion and personal connections, so it’s humor that means something and that’s the most gratifying type of joke to land”. Stevens says, “This is a show about sort of finding peace with yourself and the self you wish you were.”
But in the end, Circle Mirror is a play about theatre. How is that relevant to those who aren’t heavily involved in theatre, or even art in general? Boller explains that, “It is really about the self-discovery and transcendent connections with others that can occur at the intersection of life and art. I hope audiences leave thinking about the impact art, particularly theatre, has on the lives of everyone--not just those who choose to make art their career.”
Boller left with these words: “Sometimes I feel like theatre is a dying art form when all anyone wants to do is ‘Netflix and chill.’ This play reminds me how special theatre is as an art form and how much we really need it. Theatre is all about human connection--actors are communicating with one another onstage and with the audience as well. Theatre is all about being present with one another, and I think we need that now more than ever.”
So please come see USC’s Lab Theater production of Circle Mirror Transformation (1400 Wheat St, located in the Booker T. Washington Theater). Showtimes are 8 pm nightly, November 19th-22nd, and tickets are $5 at the door.
For more information about Circle Mirror Transformation or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.