Friday, 6 January 2012

1st rehearsal

Curiously I felt like an interloper, not being directly involved in the production, which is odd as I have known most of them for a quarter of a century and more. They all signed the model release forms - which some jibes about being "models" and I think this procedure will help to detach me a little from them for the purpose of my project. Only one of the group questioned what I was doing, I think this is more to do with their need to get on with the job in hand.

The lighting isn't ideal, the main body of the Hall is well lit with fluorescent strip lights and the stage has another, albeit smaller, fluorescent strip - but the stage is draped in black cloth from the previous production and that is mopping up the light. So, completely the opposite of a production lighting set-up, where the focus of the lighting should be on the players on-stage. I had decided not to use flash - for obvious reasons - and had taken down three cameras; Nikon D3 initially set at 1600 ISO, subsequently moved to 3200, Fuji X100, also set at 1600 and a Pentax M3 with Fuji Neopan 1600. Looking at this now there seems a surfeit of 1600! The digital cameras were set to have a max ISO auto adjust, so were capable, depending on available light and aperture to reduce the effective film speed. I'll annotate the photographs with the relevant detail.

As can be seen I had expected a paucity of light and felt it was likely to be working on narrow depth of field, which I was quite happy with as I wanted to use focus as an allegory. There are different types of AmDram groups, some very serious, some purely social; this group is somewhere in between and the job of doing a god job with the script and intention of both author and Director is taken seriously and I've tried to capture that in the shots. There is, I have to say, also a lot of humour and laughing along the way which is something I expect to capture also - hopefully from an audience perspective also.

 Two shots of Kevin, one half of the JD's. Joint Directing has been done before at this group and is was used to bring a novice Director "up to speed" as it can be quite daunting. However in this case both Emma and Kevin are new to the role of "boss".
The shot on the left has him annotating his script f4.0, 1/30th and ISO1400.

The shot on the right has him from a players perspective, considering the action on stage. It is important to the players to have the director demonstrably taking note of the performance and how it is developing. f3.5, 1/30, ISO 1400

Pat and Jean costume/tea/general factotums sit slightly apart from the players. Their support is vital to the success and smooth running of the show. I set the focus on them, slightly differentiating them from the players f2.0 1/30, ISO 640. Mike on the right will be the Stage Manager (SM) on this show - he won't need to do very much until the "blocking" has been completed so he is doing some work on his iPhone that is nothing to do with the show and all to do with his business f3.5, 1/30, ISO100.
 I hadn't particularly noticed this before as I am normally intricately involved in the production in some way - but most people had their heads "down" looking at their scripts, making notes. This shot of Sharon places the script into sharp focus and the centre of attention. f5.6, 1/30, ISO 1600

 Similarly with this shot - the group has come together mid rehearsal to listen to the Directors and discuss - notes will be taken (maybe to be discarded at a later date). They spontaneously decide to stand in a circle while the discussion continues f2.0, 1/50, ISO200

The photograph here suggests the first "performance; there are players on stage and an audience. Something has "moved" the actors in the Hall to look up and take notice, generally they were concentrating on their scripts, but three of them were taking note of the action on stage. I focussed therefore on the players on stage rather than the "audience" f2.0, 1/30, ISO640

Back to the "group-hug". I like the interplay here between the Joint Directors and a couple of the players. Emma is talking, Jeff - in between is keeping quiet, Kevin looks on with an interested expression, whilst Dave remains detached. I tried to focus on Emma, but it didn't quite come off f2.0, 1/30, ISO320

Emma considers something here, not quite sure what it was, I wanted to get a picture of the players listening, taking on board what the JD's were saying - a notion of their "direction". These shots don't quite work. The one with Emma f2.0, 1/50, ISO 200 there aren't enough obvious listeners in the frame.

  I move around and took this other shot, there is obvious concentration on Emma's words - even a part of Kevin, but no Emma, which sort of sells the shot short f5.6, 1/25, ISO 1600. So the focus in the frame is to capture their focus, their intent on what the JD's want from them and their performances. (Kevin's demeanour albeit cut in half is more positive than before)

And finally a "performance" shot. The most they managed to get on stage in the evening.

A lot for me to take away here. I will be able to show progression, as the players pick their heads up, as the play picks up, as the other various components to make a show come into play. Next rehearsal is next Thursday, Sundays start 22nd January. February will be an energetic period and the show goes on 29th/30th and 31st March.


  1. A good event to follow and I like your 'allegory' on focus.

  2. Catherine, thanks for stopping by. I wondered about how I would be able to interact with the cast as I know them so well - but they appeared to largely ignore me - which I suppose is a good result for me!