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PURE Theatre is proud to open its eighth season Nomads & Fools with the regional premiere of Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation. Directed by PURE's Co-Founder and Artistic Director Sharon Graci, and will feature Pam Galle, Paul Whitty, Randy Neale, Sullivan Graci Hamilton, and Carri Schwab. Circle Mirror Transformation opens Friday, September 3 and runs through the 18th.

When four lost New Englanders enrolled in Marty's community center drama class experiment with harmless games, hearts are quietly torn apart, and tiny wars of epic proportions are waged and won. Annie Baker's new comedy is a beautifully crafted diorama, a petri dish in which we see, with hilarious detail and clarity, the antic sadness of a motley quintet.

Circle Mirror Transformation has won critical acclaim receiving an OBIE Award for Best New American Play, the New York Drama Critics Circle for Emerging Talent Special Citation, and a Drama Desk Award Nomination for Outstanding Play.
The New York Times describes Annie Baker's play as "an absolute feast. Circle Mirror Transformation is the kind of unheralded gem that sends people into the streets babbling and bright-eyed with the desire to spread the word. The play traces the lives of a handful of small-town Vermont residents who gather each week for an acting class taught at the local community center. By the play's end we seem to see to the very bottom of these souls, and feel how the artificial intimacy of the acting class has shaped their lives in substantial ways."

In an interview with Playwrights Horizon, Baker speaks about her work and why she created Circle Mirror Transformation. "Speaking is a kind of misery. And I guess I comfort myself by finding the rhythms and accidental poetry in everyone's inadequate attempts to articulate their thoughts. We're all sort of quietly suffering as we go about our days, trying and failing to communicate to other people what we want and what we believe...

I knew I wanted the audience to learn about the characters through formal theater exercises. I knew I wanted there to be excruciating silences. I knew I wanted a doomed class romance that left one character embarrassed and the other heartbroken. I knew I wanted the characters to deliver monologues as each other. I knew I wanted information about these people to come out in the strangest places, and I wanted us to know them all intimately by the end of the play, but without having heard any lines of dialogue like: "Hey, Marty. Remember when we fell in love 20 years ago in Eureka, California?" I also wanted to show how beautiful (and noble!) it is when people throw themselves earnestly and unselfconsciously into something, even if it's a therapeutic reenactment.

I comfort myself by finding the rhythms and accidental poetry in everyone's inadequate attempts to articulate their thoughts. We're all sort of quietly suffering as we go about our days, trying and failing to communicate to other people what we want and what we believe."

Director Sharon Graci believes, "theatre can be about such a varying array of experiences, ranging from epic journeys to smaller, simpler moments that at face value bear a much stronger resemblance to our daily lives than to the stuff of high drama. Yet upon closer inspection, we realize that it's all high drama when it happens to us. Theatre breeds compassion, and understanding, and makes accessible The Commonality of our human existence. The true power of theatre is its ability to bind individuals through compassionate relation to the condition of being human. Theatre contains the unfailing property of being able to humanize circumstance, emotion, and event regardless of contextual magnitude."

PURE Theatre has garnered a reputation for artistic excellence, risk taking, and thinking outside of the box. The company's intrepid approach to the art and craft of theatre has garnered them numerous critics and audience awards, as well as a loyal following of patrons.

Student Rush tickets are available for $15 with a valid student ID, for tickets remaining at curtain.

Circle Mirror Transformation Creatives

Annie Baker (Playwright) grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, and graduated from the Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Her play Body Awareness was staged Off-Broadway by the Atlantic Theater Company in May and June 2008. The play featured JoBeth Williams and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award. Circle Mirror Transformation premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in October 2009 and received Obie Awards for Best New American Play and Performance, Ensemble. The play has been nominated for the Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Play and Outstanding Director of a Play, and the cast has been awarded a special Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Ensemble Performances. Her play, The Aliens, which premiered Off-Broadway at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in April 2010, was a finalist for the 2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and shared the 2010 Obie Award for Best New American Play with Circle Mirror Transformation. She will be teaching at the University of Rochester starting in late 2010. Baker was one of seven playwrights selected to participate in the 2008 Sundance Institute Theatre Lab.

Pam Galle (Marty) has previously been seen at PURE in Sheep's Clothing by Spencer Deering.

Contact:, 704.996.7037

Sharon Graci (Director) is the artistic director and co-founder of PURE Theatre. Directing credits include Yankee Tavern, Up, Speech & Debate, Sheep's Clothing, The Last Five Years, The Seafarer, Underneath the Lintel, and Eurydice. She is an alumnus of the 2007 Lincoln Center Director's Lab. Recent acting credits include Stage: Mara Stockman Kelly in Hogs, Elizabeth in Faith, Hope & Charity, Becca in Rabbit Hole, Celestina in Cloud Tectonics at PURE. Television: Army Wives (Lifetime), One Tree Hill (WB), Surface (NBC). She studied acting at Point Park University and the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Theatre and received a BA in theatre from Augusta State University. She has performed with numerous regional theatre companies throughout the Southeast and was voted Best Local Actress by Charleston City Paper readers in 2007, 2008, and 2009. She also received a Best Actor award for her work in Montague, winner Best Film, Stopwatch Cinema.

Sullivan Graci Hamilton (Lauren) attends the Charleston County's School of the Arts. This is her fifth production with PURE. Previous productions have included Ginger: A Hansel & Gretel Tale, Wafflehouse Christmas, HOGS, and Speech & Debate.

Randy Neale (James) has appeared in previous PURE Theatre productions of Yankee Tavern, The Seafarer, Killing Chickens, and The Man from Nebraska. He has been a member of Actor's Equity since 1974. Throughout his career he has appeared in regional theatres in Providence, Baltimore, Rochester and Boston, and enjoyed a 20 year career in New York City. He is the Director of Fine Arts at the Charleston Collegiate School, and will appear in his new play The Fool's Lear at the Nomad Theatre this Spring in New York.

Carri Schawb (Theresa) is grateful to have found such a strong theatre community here in Charleston, after having spent 30 years treading boards across the world. She crawled off her mother's lap, and shimmied onstage at the age of two, and is still unable to exit stage right. Carri has a broad education and resume with a strong focus on physicality and artistic collaboration. Carri was previously seen at PURE in Ginger: A Hansel & Gretel Tale by Rodney Lee Rogers & Spencer Deering.

Paul Whitty (Schultz) is excited to be back in Charleston working with PURE. Paul just returned from New York City where he played Sir Toby in Sonnet Repertory's critically acclaimed Twelfth Night. A founding member of Charleston's Crescent Stage, Paul most recently appeared as Greg in their Piccolo Spoleto Festival production of Neil LaBute's Reasons to be Pretty. Other credits include: Broadway: The Full Monty (Dave) TV/Film: Guiding Light, National Lampoon's Beach Party New York: Shakesbare: The Seven Deadly Sins, Rats (Jebbie), Roadside, Maryland (NYC Fringe), Fallout (Saturn) Regional: Art (Yvan), Sheep's Clothing (Luggs), Hogs (Peter), Doubt (Father Flynn), Faith, Hope, and Charity, War of the Worlds (Orson Welles), Measure for Measure (Angelo), Victoria & Frederick (Ulysses S. Grant), Defiance (Chaplain) Directing: Love's Fire (Shakespeare Project), Mauritius (Village Playhouse), Discretion (Create Carolina). Paul has a BFA in Acting from UNCSA.

Circle Mirror Transformation

by Annie Baker

WHO: Written by Annie Baker

Directed by Sharon Graci

Featuring Pam Galle, Paul Whitty, Randy Neale, Sullivan Graci Hamilton, and Carri Schwab

WHAT: Circle Mirror Transformation

Charleston Ballet Theatre

477 King Street

Charleston, S.C. 29403
WHEN: September 3rd through the 18th

Opening Night September 3rd with additional performances on 4, 10, 11, 12*, 16, 17 & 18
7:30 Performances

*2:00 Matinee

HOW MUCH: Thursday $20, Friday & Saturday $25, Sunday $20 all seats,

At the Door: Thursday $25, Friday & Saturday $30, Sunday $25

GROUP SALES For groups of 12 or more, call 843.723.4444

Student Rush $15.00 tickets. Available all performances for any remaining tickets at curtain. Valid with a student ID.


Phone: PURE Box Office: 866.811.4111

On Line:

In Person: PURE Theatre Box Office - 30 Minutes before Showtime

Charleston Ballet Company

477 King Street

Charleston, S.C. 29403

Description of the fictional town Shirley, VT where all of Annie Baker's plays take place- described in an interview with Playwrights Horizons:

Shirley is a town in Windsor County, Vermont. The population was 14,023 in the 2000 census. Shirley is home to Shirley State College, and it hosts the annual Vermont Gourd Festival.

Once a fishing place for the Abenaki tribe of the Northeast, Shirley was settled by the English in 1754 and named for Lord Henry Shirley, the man who was eventually responsible for one of the first acts of biological warfare in North America. In response to various Native American uprisings in the 1760s, Shirley approved a plan to distribute smallpox-infected blankets to the Indians, whom he referred to as "an execrable race."

Shirley has never moved to a mayor-council or council-manager form of government; instead, it has maintained the tradition of a town meeting and select board.

In 1853, pure spring water was discovered near Shirley's Plum Brook, and for the next few decades the town was home to the Shirley Hydropathic Institute and became a curative health resort destination until 1882. Now the former Hydropathic Institute is home to the Shirley School, a small preparatory school for dyslexic students.

Public nudity was legal in Shirley until 2008, and for years the town's Saturday Morning Farmer's Market was a destination point for nudists. But in 2008, by a narrow margin, the town banned nudity "on the main roads or within 300 feet of any school or place of public worship," and the face of The Farmer's Market (always held in the parking lot of the Unitarian Church) was forever changed.

Notable historical residents have included Gilbert Rosebath, astronomer; Edwin Hunt Lessey, reed organ maker; and Elizabeth Collins, poet.

In the 1980s and '90s Shirley became home to a small community of Cambodian refugees who were fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime. The community is still thriving, and now all Shirley public school newsletters are distributed in English and in Khmer.

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