Hooping: Not Just for Children

Within the first four scenes of Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation, two characters have to hula hoop onstage. While hula hooping is definitely a fun game to play when we’re six years old, hula hooping at the age of 20 seems a little more challenging. As we rehearsed the scene, it seemed like hula hooping would prove difficult for our two actors. The character who owns the hula hoop, Theresa, a 35 year old actress, is an expert “hooper,” as she calls herself. James, a 60 year old economics professor, who also has to hula hoop in the play, does not have to be very good at it, but he has to at least hoop for a few seconds.

The actress playing Theresa, Alison Bushey, practiced hooping over winter break so she would be comfortable rehearsing the scene when we returned for spring semester, but I thought it would be a good idea for the whole cast to learn how to hula hoop, for the play and as a bonding experience. On Saturday, January 21st, our publicity director, Mikey Kim, who had previously informed me that he was a good hula hooper and could definitely teach our cast, came to rehearsal for a “hooping workshop.” I had set aside an hour, thinking that everyone would have a really hard time, but in fact, the entire cast as well as several production members were successfully hooping within 20 minutes!

We had two hula hoops for the workshop, one was an exercise hula hoop which was weighted and one was a children’s hula hoop, which was plastic and very light. Through trial and error, we found that the weighted hula hoop was actually easier to use and that you have to exert a lot more effort to hula hoop with a children’s plastic version.

In the play, Theresa tells Shultz, “the key is actually less movement…as opposed to more movement” and instructs James as he attempts to hoop “put one foot forward…try it…don’t think too much,” and that really is all there is to it. Put one foot forward, move your hips slightly, and you can hoop like a pro, too!