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Body-of-work ‘Awareness’

October 21, 2010

Published by Metro

Though all three of Annie Baker’s plays take place in Shirley, Vermont, they don’t share characters, events or even locations within the small fictional town.

“They are most definitely not a trilogy, and not linked in any particular way,” says Baker.

Nevertheless, three Boston theater companies have teamed up to produce the celebrated playwright’s shows together this fall.

The Huntington Theatre Company has taken on “Circle Mirror Transformation,” a comedy about an acting teacher’s untraditional theater games. SpeakEasy Stage Company delivers “Body Awareness,” featuring a lesbian couple, their 21-year old son and a visiting artist famous for female nude portraits. Two disillusioned 30-something dropouts get needed discipline in Company One’s “The Aliens.”

Each story happens in Shirley, a town with a population of about 14,000 that Baker describes as reminiscent of Amherst, Mass.

“I never made a real conscious effort to create a fictional town,” Baker explains. “But at some point it just became apparent to me that my characters were living in a place called Shirley, Vermont.”

Come on! No overlapping at all? Baker finally acquiesces.

“You’d have to be a bit of a psychopath to notice it,” she says. “Marty in ‘Circle Mirror Transformation’ is friends with Phyllis in ‘Body Awareness’ … this is mentioned in passing once, briefly.”

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