Thursday, July 28, 2011

Actors Playing Acting Students

Boulevard Theatre opens 2011-2012 with CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION.

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The physical space of The Boulevard Theatre has been called on to play a classroom quite a bit over the years. Being a relatively small and intimate space, it actually works really well as a classroom. And I’m sure it doesn’t in any way resent the fact that it’s been called on by Boulevard Artistic Director Mark Bucher to portray a classroom again in his upcoming production of Circle Mirror Transformation. Bucher can reassure the space that it really is a convincing classroom and that here it will be portraying a classroom in the Wisconsin premiere of a comedy by Annie Baker.

The play itself has a delightfully unassuming surface. Dig a little deeper and there’s a lot going on here existentially. A group of students of varying backgrounds take an acting class at a community college on the east coast. Think about it just a bit deeper and it becomes a group of actors onstage playing the roles of students playing roles that result in a classroom drama playing on a stage that really can convincingly portray other things if it really wanted to.

Directed by Mark Bucher and Hugh Blewett, the play features the work of Boulevard regulars Michael Weber, Kate Sherry, Jamie Jastrab and Beth Monhollen and Boulevard newcomer Christine Pollnow.

The kind of tight personal space of the Boulevard is perfect for a character-driven ensemble piece like this. A class of relative strangers get to know each other in an acting class. The world outside the classroom is the world offstage as actors interact as characters learning to act. This could be an exceedingly interesting comedy rto open the season—theatre holds a mirror up to theatre in a deep and deeply comic look at what makes us human . . . at least . . . that’s what I’m hoping for here . . .

Boulevard  Theatre’s production of Circle Mirror Transformation runs August 16th through September 4th. For ticket reservations, call 414-744-5757.

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