Actor in 'Circle Mirror Transformation
A scene from in 'Circle Mirror Transformation Image Credit: Supplied

“This play for me is a love letter to theatre itself, coupled with an unique style of storytelling,” says Amit Vikram Ghosh, who plays James in the theatrical production ‘Circle Mirror Transformation’, running today at The Junction.

If you want to strip away the lights, take away the audience and examine the inner workings of a play, meta-play ‘Circle Mirror Transformation’ is a good reflection of the angst, anxiety, friendships and fears that go on behind-the-scenes.

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It’s a realistic proposition. There’s all the drama you could expect from a troupe of personalities that likes to play-act. And the silences that define relationships. “The writer uses silences beautifully in the play, the silences say so much about the characters and the relationships that was the first thing I had noticed in the play” says actor Nandini Bhattacharya, who plays a sort of ‘silent spectator’ in class.

Director Sabiha Majgaonkar, who takes on the script by Annie Baker, says: “Theatre in its pure forms is so simple and yet so deep. As a performer all senses being alive on stage is so crucial. This play has over 30 blackouts and 31 scenes. To ensure the cast remembers the multiple similar yet different scenes in their sequence was the biggest challenge of this play. And the innumerable pauses that are the soul of this play, maintaining those gets challenging as well.”

The play also came with other – physical – limitations. There is after all a pandemic to contend with. “The challenges in these times are always rehearsals. Maintaining social distancing, practising with masks on and gathering at one place to rehearse all come in form of challenges. We rehearsed for this play for over a month on Zoom before we started meeting in person to rehearse,” explains Majgaonkar.

It helped however that like in the production, the actors have worked together before – as students. “So my students who learned from me are also playing students learning from Marty's character. A kind of interesting real life on stage scenario one can say. So for most part the actors had to be what they were - students. And yet because they are also playing certain kind of students they had to work on becoming those characters,” she adds.

Raw and real, up on the stage, this is the truth behind a play.