Meta-Theatre-Class with BCT’s Circle Mirror Transformation

Circle Mirror Transformation. Photos by Talya Chalef. Beautiful City Theatre. (left to right) Gene Santarelli (James), Mary Liz Lewis (Marty), Eleni Metrakos (Lauren), Renée Hodgins (Theresa), Douglas Rossi (Schultz) Circle Mirror Transformation. Photos by Talya Chalef. Beautiful City Theatre. (left to right) Gene Santarelli (James), Mary Liz Lewis (Marty), Eleni Metrakos (Lauren), Renée Hodgins (Theresa), Douglas Rossi (Schultz)

If the first play ever written wasn’t about being in the theatre, the second probably was. The theatre loves to recreate itself. Beautiful City Theatre’s newest production, Circle Mirror Transformation takes place over a six-week period in a drama class. Four students from diverse backgrounds and their teacher discover how theatre exasperates the difficulties of human relationships.

I spoke to Montreal actress, Eleni Metrakos, about the show, which is premiering in New York before coming to Montreal. I asked Metrakos to describe the show. “It’s a hard show to sum up,” she says, “It’s about a community drama class that takes place in Vermont. The play is about the relationships that form and destroy, and how they change as you work on theatre. A lot of things happen and people make discoveries about themselves.” The four characters in particular are a motley crew. One is the husband of the teacher. Another is a former NYC actress. A third is a divorcee, and Metrakos plays a high school student with aspirations.

“It’s very naturalistic,” says Metrakos. “I hear these things, the dialogue, the vocabulary and the logistics in theatre classes.” She explains one scene in which a student needs to have a dramatic exercise explained by both the teacher and the fellow students. “It’s like real life,” she says. “You’re not going to find that in another play.”

Putting on a show in New York is not without sacrifices. Metrakos took the year off school, “a gap year” as she puts it, and stayed in the apartment of the director during rehearsals for the first run of the show at Schapiro Studios. However, Metrakos is thrilled. “Literally all the stars aligned,” she says. “The majority of our cast is from New York and so it was easier to come and rehearse it in New York.”

Furthermore, being in New York was an immersion in the theatre culture there. Metrakos says, “We rehearse during the day and go see shows at night,” she says. “There are so many shows. We do standing-room-only for Broadway. We see Off-Broadway. I love it so much. I’m trying to soak in as much as possible.”

circle mirror transformation

Eleni Metrakos as Lauren. PHoto Talya Chalef. circle mirror transformation

While a short stint in New York is a highlight, Metrakos has only the highest praise for Beautiful City Theatre’s process (you can read our interview with them HERE). Beautiful City Theatre has a process-oriented approach to its shows where the focus is on the journey to the show. “There’s an emphasis on safe space and respecting the actors, the play, and the director. It’s great to have this support and feel like everybody is there for you. There’s no judgement,” Metrakos explains.

As someone who has worked with other companies as well as Beautiful City Theatre, Metrakos has the ability to see how other actors engage with this process-oriented approach. “It’s cool watching people learn their process and how it works. I can see other people in New York thinking it’s a treat working with BCT. It’s a very different environment.”

One thing that should prove challenging is transitioning the show from its New York run to its Montreal run. The theatre space is very different. “Schaprio’s is a studio with a black floor and some curtains. It’s smaller,” Metrakos explains. “Studio 303 is in the Belgo building and three times the size. I like Studio 303 and I like Schapiro’s Theatre, and I can’t wait to do the show in both places.”

If there’s one thing that Metrakos can say for certain, it’s that she loves New York. “I’d love to turn this gap year into my life,” she says.

Circle Mirror Transformation takes place on February 6-8 at Studio 303 (372 St Catherine W, #303). $20. See HERE for times.

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