Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Suspension of Reality

Musings on the experience of playing in Circle Mirror Transformation

by Guest commentary by Tim Shute

Cast of Circle Mirror Transformation, photo by Hannah Eklund
Over the last 16+ years of acting, primarily on community theater stages around the south Puget Sound region, I have been asked many questions about my acting experiences by attendees of the shows I have done. Most often I am asked how we remember the lines or deal with stage fright. I answer politely and appreciate and understand the curiosity. But acting has little to do with those things. You see when I watch a movie or a play I am begging to be engaged by the actors and drawn into their world and escape from mine. Now I will leave it up to you to speculate what I might wish to escape from, but I assure you it is nothing more complex than the every day distractions that make up life itself. And good actors can do that for me and you on any given day and with any given role.

So the real challenge in acting isn't learning lines or movement around the stage, it is being able to provide that suspension of reality for others. And if successful, there is little in life I have found to be as rewarding. And in order to do that you have to come together with the other members of your cast, strangers at first, and in a very very brief period of time you have to learn to trust each other and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Sometimes it works well an sometimes it doesn't. We all know what bad theater looks and feels like.

But once in a while, you find yourself at a place we actors consider nirvana. A place where each actor on stage with you is so in tune with your every thought and movement that portraying the characters is as simple and instinctual as breathing. A place where each word that comes out of your mouth is as much yours as it is the character you are portraying. And it is oh so rare as to render mountains of gold undesirable. I am, once again, having that very experience with my fellow cast mates in Circle Mirror Transformation at OLT. In what is one of the most rewarding theater experiences of my life, I am able to achieve the depths of character development we only rarely are able to attain. Each moment under the lights is surreal in its authenticity. And each moment is alive with anticipation and exhilaration that i am brave enough to meet without fear, because of the people standing out there with me. Scott, Schultz, Lauren, Jessie, Chelsey, Theresa, Meghan, Marty, and James are all my best friends and greatest loves all at the same time. I could never repay the sense of admiration and gratitude they are all due. And yet I trust they feel the same for me. And soon it will come to a close and we will go our separate ways.

That is the challenge of acting. That is what is difficult, and elusive, and gut wrenching. That is what makes me want to hold on to my new friends forever, even though it will end. And every time I audition for a new show, THAT is what I am hoping for! That is why I take such pride in calling myself an actor!

Thank you to each and every cast mate I have ever had, and thank you to the beautiful, wonderful, amazing, talented, and loving cast mates I am so lucky to have in this brilliant show. And it is all because of one amazing person! Thank you Hanna Eklund!

Note: Final performances are this weekend.

Circle Mirror Transformation, Thursday-Saturday and 1:55 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 21, Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave., NE, Olympia, tickets $11-$15, available at Yenney Music, 2703 Capital Mall Dr., Olympia, 360.786.9484,

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