After appearing in last semester’s production of Three Sisters, Maggie Kearnan, A&S ’14, is making her directorial debut with The Circle Mirror Transformation in two weeks.
Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation is slated to open at the Bonn Studio Theatre in two weeks, running Feb. 20 through Feb 22. The show will be the directorial debut for Maggie Kearnan, A&S ’14. Kearnan has been involved in the theater department throughout her four years at Boston College, most recently appearing as Olga in the Robsham Main Stage production of Three Sisters in November.
The Heights: Describe Circle Mirror Transformation in brief.
Kearnan: It’s about five people who are taking a summertime adult acting course together. It’s taught by Marty, and most of them don’t know each other. Marty’s husband James is in the class, but the other three are strangers to Marty and James and to each other. Over the course of the play, they’re just playing theatre games mostly, and the character of Lauren, who’s 16 years old, is expecting-you know, she signed up for an acting class-to be handed a script basically, which I love, because sometime I think an audience going to see a play on an acting class, that’s what they expect to see, but it’s theatre games. They’re all lying around on the ground and counting and walking through the space and playing different tableau games and reenactment games. It’s how we learn about those people through those games, and what they learn about themselves, and how they change-if they change.
The Heights: Has there been difficulty in rehearsal for a show that’s itself about an acting class?
Kearnan: I wouldn’t say difficulty-it’s interesting. It opens up all these opportunities in the rehearsal process, because we can do pretty much anything as long as it’s a theater game and informs what they’re doing on stage. It’s really meta, and what I’m doing is what Marty’s doing in the class, which is why sometimes I ask Alex Lewis, who’s playing Marty, to lead a game or lead a warm-up. It’s kind of great to do it that way, because the way I structure rehearsals informs everything that they’re doing on stage. When we first started rehearsing, they’re coming into this process and they don’t know each other that well, and they don’t know what to expect from this process, which is the same way these people are coming into acting class.
The Heights: Coming into this process as an actor, how is directing different?
Kearnan: The first three or four rehearsals, it was like I don’t know why they’re letting me do this, and it’s different mostly just to be in charge and to have to set up a rehearsal plan for everyone. As an actor, you just show up when they tell you to, and you do what they tell you to. To have to make decisions and know two weeks in advance what I’m going to do on this rehearsal is kind of like being a teacher.
The Heights: What’s it like working in the Bonn?
Kearnan: The Bonn is more of an intimate space. You’re right near the audience, and I like it better, especially for this show. I wouldn’t have ever directed this show on Main Stage, and that goes along with why we chose the thrust setup for this instead of the classic proscenium-to bring the audience closer. This play is so much based in realism, and the action of the play is based on the people that are there and the characters. Because these people are meant to be so real, I feel the audience needs to be as close to that as possible. I love it, because I can put tiny little moments in there that mean something, but would never come across on the Main Stage.
The Heights: Did you know you wanted to focus on theatre coming into BC?
Kearnan: I didn’t expect to become a major, and I don’t ever remember having that decision to become a major. I just kind of stayed here.
The Heights: Why do you think theatre matters at Boston College?
Kearnan: It’s a reflection of life. In my mind, there’s no better way to explore life and to see it right in front of you. A lot of the shows we do here, we try to make them accessible to the student body, and relevant.
The Heights: What would you say was the most special moment in this directing process so far?
Kearnan: I don’t know if this is the most special, but we do this thing at the end of rehearsal. Everybody just lies down on the floor, and we turn off the lights, and somebody will play a song at the end of pretty much every rehearsal. We were in the Slice before-the game room in Vanderslice-we were rehearsing in there while Clean House was in [Bonn], and the heat doesn’t work in there. So it was really cold one day. It was like 10 degrees outside, so it was 20 degrees in the Slice, so we all were in our coats, and I was running around with a blanket on. That day, instead of lying around separately on our spaces on the floor, we all made a little cuddle pile when we listened to the song. So now, every time we listen to the song, we make a little cuddle pile instead of spreading out on the floor. This kind of represents the show for me, and when you’re working with good people, it makes the process so much better. I am really thankful for this cast I have and the community we have together.