It was a cold dark evening in which I found myself heading to the theatre. This evening marked the annual task of photographing the latest show performed by the very talented cast of Petts wood Operatic Society.
I have had the pleasure to do it for several years now and it’s always a something I look forward to.
The show, like so many before took place at the rose bruford college of theatre, one of my favourite places to photograph. The theatre from the outside dosent look like much, the long glass windows that conceal its entrance simply gives it a modern college feel, it’s only when you step inside and ease back the black heavy doors the theatre comes alive. The stage itself is flat to the ground and the seats curve around in a horse shoe. This adds to the real intermit feel you get with the theatre, the cast are so close you don’t miss a line or gesture.
I made my way inside giving a nod to the faces I recognised and a reassuring smile the ones I didn’t. I always try to pick a seat as close to the middle of the theatre as I can. I am full aware that’s where the performers act towards and for me it helps ensures I get the best shots. I sat on the front row one seat to the left of the middle, my normal position taken over by a small group of musicians poised to play the sound track for tonight proceedings.
I laid my camera bag out on the seat next to me and spent a few minutes ensuring they were set up correctly, no time for mistakes when the lights go down.
There is something magical about photographing the dress rehearsal, i get to see the full show performed in front of me, with no other audience memebers , I also get to see how the show is constructed, a behind the scenes performance.
One of the unique things about this theatre is there is no curtain and so any stage props or items but remain in the stage or be carefully moved about during scene changes. Just to the right sat a wooden desk a permanent fixture of the show and to my left a collection of large boxes. I watch as the director instructed the cast to move them, giving them once practice of how to effectively change their positions and use on stage. I watched as several cast members each picked up a box from where they were nearly stacked and moved them positioning so they now represented several desks. A type writer was placed on each stack finishing of the effect, a quick nod from the director and they were quickly returned.
Soon the lights dimmed and I knew it was time for me to go to work. Although I have never seen the musical before I had seen the comedy film starring Dolly Parton several times, so I had a pretty good idea of the story and scenes that would make good shots. For those that haven’t seen the film I would recommend giving a watch some time.
I sat in my seat, changing from one camera to another as I watched the performance acted out in front of me. The lights complimented the scene perfectly and I was able to get some real great images. Some of my favourites where of Hannah, she played the Judy character, I watched as she sang adding real emotion to every word, the lights were low except a single spot light that highlighted her scene.
It was a great show filled with exceptional singing and acting. I really enjoyed being part of it, as the final scene draw to a close, the musicians played Dolly’s famous title song as the performers took one last bow and headed off stage. This too was my time to leave. Camera full of shots I done up my coat and headed into the dark content for another year.