Feature: Students, alumni operate theatre company

The Newtonite

Graham Techler ’12 performs in 'The Valentine Trilogy' by Nathan Allen. Photo taken by Judith Gibson-Okunieff.
Graham Techler ’12 performs in ‘The Valentine Trilogy’ by Nathan Allen. Photo taken by Judith Gibson-Okunieff.

by Peter Diamond and Julia Oran
When the Theatre Ink curtains close for the last time before summer, a new set of curtains opens to provide a stage for alumni and students. Circuit Theatre, a summer theatre company, which featured a number of performers attending this school, is described on its website as “an ensemble of young theatre artists dedicated to creating high-voltage, community-enriching theatrical performances in the Greater Boston area.” It was founded by Skylar Fox ’11 in 2010.
In the past four years, the company has grown from a small repertory company of alumni and current students from this school and South, who built upon their high school theatre foundations, to a staple in the Boston theatre community with participants from numerous high schools and colleges.
Beginnings
Graham Techler ’12, a participant in Circuit’s first season who has continued to be involved, said, “Circuit started out as a way to keep the Theatre Ink good times going into the summer. It was because of Circuit that I had my first experience putting up a show in two weeks when I was 16. I’m definitely thankful for that practice now.”
Techler added, “There are not a lot of companies like Circuit, and there are definitely not a lot of companies like Circuit that started while the founding members were in high school.”
Jen Diamond ’10, who directed “Talk Radio” by Eric Bogosian in Circuit’s first season, also said, “I think Circuit is great, in that it’s one of the few places that has young theatre artists supporting other young theatre artists.”
The first season, Diamond described, was “small and intimate.” The next summer, Circuit found a new temporary home in the Newton Cultural Center.  In the third season, as Circuit gained a wider following and more publicity, Fox expanded the company from performing exclusively in Newton to presenting shows, including “Passion Play” by Sarah Ruhl, in and around Boston.
Circuit’s work was recognized when the Independent Reviewers of New England Awards nominated “Passion Play” in its 2012-13 ceremony in four categories: best supporting actor in a play (Justin Phillips ’11), best director of a play (Fox), best ensemble, and best production of a play in a small or fringe company.
Commitment to New Work
Fox called this past season “a huge success,” during which Circuit furthered its relationship with the city of Boston by producing the shows “The Amish Project” by Jessica Dickey, “Nicky Park Memorial Park” by Deepali Gupta, and “The Valentine Trilogy” by Nathan Allen in professional Boston theatre spaces. Circuit also expanded beyond its regular local acting company; unlike previous years, many of Circuit’s performers came from Brown University, where Fox currently attends college.
This summer’s season was also the first to feature a premiere, Gupta’s “Nicky Park Memorial Park,” a play that tells the story of a young woman’s childhood memories while watching an Independence Day concert. The show ran in the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre July 5 through July 7.
Most recently, “The Valentine Trilogy,” another area premiere, ran in the Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts Aug. 2 through Aug. 17. Musicians from the show’s band also performed at the Out of the Box Music Festival July 18 on the Boston Common.
“This season was really a sign of what’s to come,” said Diamond, who currently serves as Circuit’s director of new work. “Circuit is starting to gear toward new work,” a term used in theatre to describe plays performed as workshops and premieres.
Senior Mackenzie Dreese, an actor for Circuit both this season and last, said, “The company produces really high voltage theatre for a really modern experimental audience.
“I love the company because all the theatre they do is so different from what we do at North.”
Dreese added, “The energy among actors and production team was like nothing else I’ve ever worked with before. Everyone was just completely putting all their time and energy into the show and they really wanted it to succeed.”
Looking Forward
Fox said he hopes Circuit continues “to be a professional company with young artists who care about doing exciting theatre while showing what they can do.”
He added that in the future Circuit is “always looking to improve and grow. We want to expand our base of artists and have a wide variety in the audience.”