Thursday, December 15, 2011

Greek Theater, a Time Out or Circle Mirror?

Ancient Greeks used theater as holistic healing. It was thought to becalm the mind the release the ills within. Obviously the cast of the newest play in rehearsal at The Edge Center in Bigfork got the feeling. They look very relaxed to say the least, or are they napping? Actually, it’s a scene from Circle Mirror Transformation and is one of just many interesting "exercises" in an upcoming play produced by the EdgeWild Players. It will run February 24th through the 26th. The play, which won last year’s Obie for Best New Play off-Broadway is about a Creative Dramatics class taught at a community center in a small Vermont town.
What Circle Mirror Transformation provides is a "different" look at how local theater happens. In this play, the class members begin to understand that "real" acting comes from authentic, inner feelings and thoughts, not just "pretending." The author Annie Baker grew up in a small town and experienced that difference. The Edge Center has five actors who share that "experience" with the audiences.
Below are the cast members left to right --- Brianna Krickhahn, Michael Raymond, Paula Taylor, Greg Anselmo, Kimberly Powell and Director Patricia Feld.

The play’s creator, Annie Baker, believes silence is an important part of everyday life and a play’s dialogue. She uses silence in her plays as an effect that sometimes makes audiences aware of themselves, sometimes making them uncomfortable until they get used to the hyper-realistic silence.
In an article in The Brooklyyn Rail, talking about how this play can reach audiences, she described one performance where there was strongly divided opinions. She said, "when a performance almost resulted in a fight between people who like the play and those who hated it, I was cowering in the back row the whole time, humiliated but also thrilled." That could be called an engaged audience. And could be considered the purpose of a play, right?
Put this one on your calendar for February. It’ll be hard to find anything like this in all of Minnesota, except at the Guthrie!

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