By Ann McCreary
When four people in a small, rural community enroll in a six-week-long acting class at their local community center, the relationships that develop among them reveal the humor and sadness in their lives.
A Readers’ Theater presentation of the play Circle Mirror Transformation at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp this weekend “speaks to the human condition,” said Ki Gottberg, The Merc’s artistic director.
Gottberg said she chose to present this play in part because she thinks it will resonate with local audiences.
“I am trying to choose plays for their connection to us, who spend time in the Methow either full-time or part-time,” Gottberg said.
Although Circle Mirror Transformation is set in New England, the rural community of the play has similarities to the Methow Valley. For instance, one of the characters “is kind of a runaway from their city life,” a condition that many valley residents may relate to, Gottberg said.
The characters in the play are described as “wildly different” from each other, and their interactions are amusing and poignant. According to a synopsis provided by The Merc, “hearts are quietly torn apart, and tiny wars of epic proportions are waged and won.”
Author Annie Baker is known for work that is “hyper-realistic,” Gottberg said. “Her work is known as being sort of a contemporary Chekov, the early 20th century writer who captured real life and what really goes on between people,” she said.
“The audience will come to understanding the relationships and meaning of the play by using their own imaginations about what is going on in people’s lives,” Gottberg said. “I think it is funny but there is also a gentle drama to the whole thing.”
Circle Mirror Transformation won the Obie Award (the off-Broadway equivalent of a Tony Award) in 2010 for Best New American Play.
In choosing this play, Gottberg said she wanted to “get people interested in new theater going on around the country.”
Readers’ Theater performances, in which the play is presented as a dramatic reading, allow community members to participate in theater without the time commitment of a full production, Gottberg said. It also provides an opportunity for people who have never acted before to give it a try in a less demanding role.
The performance features Carolanne Steinebach, Aristides Pappidas, Cece Odell, Christine Kendall, Danica Ready and John Bonica.
Circle Mirror Transformation will be presented Friday and Saturday (March 27 and 28) at 7 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes before the show. Admission is by donation.