Friday, 13 January 2012

2nd rehearsal

The rehearsal process is Darwinian, it evolves. Some directors "throw" the players on-stage and allow the production to develop before them, others have a clear idea of what the play is, how it should be presented and what the point of it all means. The former places a great deal of trust into the players, the latter the players put an awful lot of trust in the director; and I suspect most productions are a neither one thing entirely, not the other. The twin directors in this production are both new to the role and I suspect they will veer to the Darwinian school and what I hoped to get out of this session - the 2nd rehearsal - is an element of that feeling, to record, or to attempt to record how the players react to the directors and vice versa. whilst still trying to bring elements of the exercise requirements to the photographs.

Last week I had noticed that the twin directors were apart and not spending a great deal of time watching the action. Confidence at the start of a production is a commodity sometimes in short supply, and a player needs to see that they are interpreting in the way the director "sees' it and this week, the twin directors were much more active and closer togther - they still have the scripts in their hands, but their involvement was plain and apparent. These first two shots record that engagement and clear satisfaction. Left is 1/30th sec, ISO 6400, f8, 70mm. Right hand shot is 1/60th sec, ISO 6400, F4.5, 70m. The second shot with Emma in focus shows that she is being assertive at that moment whilst Kevin is out of focus and subordinate. These roles may evolve and I need to follow how this relationship develops both from their perspective and how I record it.

Here are two photographs that attempt to depict the unsteady, but definate interaction between the floor and the stage. In the first shot Kevin is attempting to give direction and no-one is seemingly taking any notice and the next there is engagement albeit partial engagement. The two shots were taken very close in time with each other and perhaps might have worked better if the former had the stage out of focus and the second had all the participants connected by a common plane of focus. Left hand 1/40th sec, ISO 6400, f8, 70mm, right hand shot is 1/30th, ISO 4000, f4.5, 70mm

Here we have full engagement between Emma and all the players on the stage in a particularly physical moment in the play - great to see books starting to come down - albeit in Martin's case - between his legs! 1/30th sec, ISO 6400, f4.5, 70mm

Getting in as close as possible with a wide angle lens - I am standing on a chair within a couple of feet of these players. I am probably allowed to do so as they are still as much focussed on the book as anything else; it will be interesting to see how that develops in a few weeks when books go down and self confidence follows in that direction. 1/20th sec, ISO 6400, f9, 12mm (18mm equivalent)

These next three shots are the first signs of "breakthrough" for a director and a player. Animation as the player starts to "feel' the part, Jeff has also started to lower the book which is a sign of growing confidence. My part in this should be to capture him in focus portraying that confidence, isolating him as he moves into that zone ahead of his fellow players. However the first shot, whilst there is clear evidence of growing confidence I have failed in capturing that clearly, there is motion blur, despite 1/125th sec, ISO 3200, 168mm and f2.8! My excuse is that I am balancing on a chair and at extreme stage right with a long telephoto whilst Jeff is centre stage. I clearly need to improve technique to capture these moments better, or at least more consistently.  The shot to the right is a better shot and goes a long way to correct the technical deficiencies of the former photograph. Jeff is in focus and whilst he isn't as facially animated he is clearly "adopting the role" - the denim jacket is a part of his costume and not his normal attire! It is curious to note that when a player dons some costume it helps enormously with the adoption of the character, so maybe that helped with Jeff. I digress. However he still isn't isolated, so I cropped the shot a trifle and present the next one as a better image both photographically and metaphorically. The same setting as before; 1/125th sec, ISO 3200, f2.8, 98mm

There are always lulls in any rehearsal and the next photograph is designed to depict this. Wide angle and on a sleepy slant, this should give the impression of not very much going on. The two directors a long way away from each other and looking at anything but the stage. Pat the prompt (not needed yet as the actors still have their scripts in hand) and Pat and Jean showing passive disinterest. 1/80th sec, ISO 3200, f5.6, 12mm (18mm equivalent)

A view from the actors perspective. This is a very passive point in the rehearsal, the players are blindly reading their scripts and very little is going on - it's a drudge, there isn't really a quick fix to learning lines - you just have to go through it. This shot really doesn't describe that process very well; the mono treatment does help and I have tried to flatten the contrast a bit. 1/30th, ISO 6400, f9, 13mm (19 equivalent)

A couple of shots of Alex - who was ill at last weeks rehearsal. The first one to show that rehearsing can be fun, amidst the pain of blocking and line learning. I isolated her with 1/100th sec, ISO 3200, f2.8, 200mm. The long telephoto and wide open aperture ensuring that she was "on her own". Whereas the other shot of Alex is again from an actors point of view i.e. against the light, looking into the hall, 1/30th sec, ISO 6400, f2.8, 70mm.
I am conscious that I am a potential burden to the proceedings - I do know these people well, but I need to be aware that they are doing me a favour, they haven't contracted me to get the pictures; that being said they are aware that they can use any shots I do make for any purpose they need. I have now model releases signed by all the people in and connected with the show so I am comfortable about that part. From a photographic perspective there are some clear shortcomings in the images I have obtained so far. I need to us the lens as a metaphor more strongly, I do feel a strong sense of record shots when I review the set I have taken and I need to think about the shots I need to get before I go to rehearsal. I may not be able to get them, but if I was on an assignment I would have no choice but to get a result of some sort. Maybe I need to have a list of preferred shots and a set of back-up shots just in case? Preparation , preparation, preparation.

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