By Stephanie Terrell
When five unlikely people are drawn together for a short summer drama class, acting exercises force them into revealing their lives outside the classroom, and soon this quintet begins to realize the striking similarities present in each other’s lives. TWU’s Department of Drama will perform the popular comedic drama “Circle Mirror Transformation,” by Obie Award winner Annie Baker Oct. 3-7.
“I think CMT is certainly a different play than what I’m used to working with,” cast member, Jacob Drum explained in an email. “There are a lot of pauses in between the lines and even among them, but the characters are so interesting that the added challenge of memorizing the pauses is completely worth it. Four people taking a community acting class, with a fifth leading it— each person with their own complicated story. It makes for a simply amazing play.”
According to the Dramatists Play Service: “Circle Mirror Transformation” can be summarized as, “When four lost New Englanders who enroll in Marty’s six-week-long community-center drama class begin to experiment with harmless games, hearts are quietly torn apart and tiny wars of epic proportions are waged and won. A beautifully crafted diorama, a petri dish in which we see, with hilarious detail and clarity, the antic sadness of a motley quintet.”
“When I read the script I absolutely fell in love,” freshman cast member, Channing Stephens said in an email. “Annie Baker does such an amazing job. In the show, we play a lot of theater games, and through those games each character learns a little something about themselves. I love seeing each character make their journey throughout the show.”
Alumna Amber Devlin will direct the TWU cast, which consists of Averie Bell, Drum, Stephens, Colton Jones, and Julia Bodiford. Bell will act as the head teacher of the adult creative drama class Marty, Drum will act as husband and father James, Stephens as actress and overly confident student Theresa, Jones as the recently divorced carpenter Schultz, and Bodiford will act as self-conscious high school student Lauren.
“Even though it is about a drama class, I think the play will be accessible to non-theater people because the characters are just so real,” Bell explained in an email. “This isn’t your Hollywood blockbuster or epic Shakespearean tragedy. It is about how the lives of ordinary people can move you and take you to astoundingly unexpected places.”
“Something to keep in mind about the play is the pauses,” Drum explained. “The playwright was very particular about them, and even included a list at the front of the script detailing the difference between a ‘pause’ (2 seconds), a ‘silence’ (5 seconds), and a ‘long silence’ (7 seconds). Between these and the way the characters stumble over their own words, it’s easy to think that we as the actors are forgetting our lines. Just remember that every single one of those instances is deliberately built into the script.”
“Circle Mirror Transformation” won an OBIE, an Off Broadway Theater Award, from The Village Voice in 2010 for Best New American Play, was nominated by Drama Desk for Best Play, and was voted by The New York Times, Time Out of New York and The New Yorker as one of the Top 10 plays of 2009. Playwright Annie Baker has also been honored for her talent with a New York Drama Critics Circle Special Citation, Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship, Susan Smith Blackburn Prize nomination, and MacDowell Fellowship.
TWU’s drama department will have a total of six performances in the Redbud Theater Complex from Oct. 3-7, and tickets are priced at $5 for students, children and senior citizens and $10 for adults. Tickets may be reserved online, over the phone or bought on the day of the performance.
For more information about TWU’s drama department or to reserve tickets, readers can visit http://www.twu.edu/drama/current-production.asp.