I've been thinking for awhile about the Magic of our profession. Performers uphold it, Designers crave it, hardcore Technicians stick it in their belt with a snarky comment and a smirk. I stand between, one foot on the outside, one foot in rehearsal, and watch the magic work. Sometimes for warmup or focus, I still gather casts in a circle.
When we speak of the Circle, we say it with a sideways smile, from the corner of our mouth, because it's something we've sat in since kindergarten and Acting for Non-Majors. It's something for Pow-wows and prayer and curious, old, wonky beliefs that have no place in the modern high paced world, right up there with songs like 'Kumbaya' and campfires.
But the circle endures in everything we do. The circus uses three rings. Football fields are ringed all around by viewers. Theatre in the round and in thrust seems to be the fad of the future. What other place do we sit and watch not only actors onstage, but look up and across at each other? There is magic in that, and so I still use it.
When we speak of the Circle, we gather for our warmup with a flippant comment and a joke and someone sings a line from Kumbaya or makes dramatic about holding hands. We mustn't take ourselves too seriously, we really can't, or the magic slips from our fingers. But under the snark and the smirk, I think it's really there, and I think we really know it.
So we stand in a circle, still, onstage sometimes. And it works, whether we really admit it or not, no matter what we do in that circle. That's why we still do it. We stand and look and we must look at each other, and feel the heat of another on either side of us, and bring everyone's mind to the center and feel the power there.
It's okay to chuckle and smirk. Nothing sillier than grown professional adults believing in magic.
Except we do. That's why we're here.
Mike Eldred and the cast of Godspell. Alpine Theatre Project, summer 2007