Circle Mirror Transformation: A class act

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Lise Ann Johnson: “We’re all laughable, aren’t we?”

The GCTC’s 2011-12 season culminates with an off-Broadway sensation

When GCTC artistic director Lise Ann Johnson first encountered Annie Baker’s audacious prose, she asked to be sent the young American playwright’s entire catalogue. Johnson settled onCircle Mirror Transformation, which many consider to be Baker’s breakthrough play.

Throughout an interview that took place two weeks before the premiere, Johnson’s enchantment was palpable. “I’m working with a lovely cast on a very, very fun play!” she exclaimed. Set in small-town Vermont, Circle Mirror Transformation follows a teacher and her four students as they partake in an adult creative drama class. “The characters all have different motives. For example, the teacher’s husband is somewhat coerced into joining because enrolment is too low,” Johnson reports.

First and foremost a comedy, Circle Mirror Transformation also aims to display a solid human dimension. Johnson clarifies, “By engaging in a lot of the typical drama games you’d expect to get in this context, the characters reveal the amusing imperfections of human existence. We’re all laughable, aren’t we?”

Baker’s style rings true to Johnson, who conceptualizes said style as a new naturalism. “The language of the play doesn’t correspond to the way people think they speak; it depicts how they speak in actuality – with ums, ahs and hesitations.”

As the sociologically relevant child of Summer Heights High, Community and The Office, Circle Mirror Transformation should, in the opinion of Johnson, end the season on a pleasantly satirical note.

Circle Mirror Transformation
By Annie Baker
Directed by Lise Ann Johnson
@Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre
(1233 Wellington St. W)
May 22- June 10

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