The Theatre Games of Circle Mirror Transformation

by on January 23, 2017

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If you’ve ever taken an acting class at your local community center, high school, or college, you might recognize a few of the theatre games played by the characters in Circle Mirror Transformation. Playwright Annie Baker projects real-life drama onto the silly—and sometimes awkward—world of an Adult Creative Drama class. Take a look at a few of the games played in Circle Mirror Transformation – and maybe try a few out yourself!

The Theatre Games of Circle Mirror Transformation

The Counting Exercise

In this theatre game, players aim to count all the way from 1 to 10. The players cannot signal to each other during the game and no two players make speak a number at the same time. If they do, the counting goes back to 1. As the characters of Circle Mirror Transformation find out, it’s easier said than done.


Players walk around the space. They greet each other in whatever way feels natural (a handshake, a wave) and say their name as they do. As the game goes on, the class leader can add in scenarios, like “Greet each other as old friends,” or “Greet each other like you’re astronauts on the moon.” This is a great exercise for loosening up, breaking the ice, and getting to know your classmates.


A staple of acting classes and improv teams everywhere, there are several variations on this game that can be played. In one, the audience gives two players a scenario, such as “You are making small talk in the check-out line at the grocery store.” The two players improv the scenario, speaking only in gibberish. At random junctures in the scene, a third player tells them to switch to English. The goal is to see if the two players were communicating effectively using only subtext, body language, and vocal inflection. In the variation played in Circle Mirror Transformation, the players decide for themselves what they are trying to communicate (“I like the color of your sweater,” or, “You parked in my space this morning.”). At the end of the scene, fellow class members interpret what the conversation was.

One Word Story

This is a game about building a story, one word at a time. Player A begins by saying a single word. Player B continues the sentence with another. Player C adds a third, and so on and so forth until the story is complete. Oftentimes, the story you think you are going to tell isn’t the story you end up with. This is an exercise is listening, focus, and flexibility.

Circle Mirror Transformation

The namesake of Annie Baker’s play, ‘Circle, mirror, transformation’ is often used as a warm-up game – including in our very own rehearsal halls. Players stand in a circle. One player starts the group off with a motion and corresponding sound. The rest of the group mirrors the motion and sound until the entire circle is moving and speaking in unison. At random, another player will introduce a new motion and sound. The circle repeats the process, transforming until they are in unison again. And there you have it: circle, mirror, transformation.


See these games—and many more—acted out on the stage of the Pamela Brown in Annie Baker’s heartfelt play Circle Mirror Transformation

Actors Theater of Louisville
316 West Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Box Office: 502.584.1205
502.371.0956 TDD

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