Sunday, 29 April 2012

The First Playhouse Pictures

These are the digital shots, more shots were taken using film and will be added as they get developed and scanned. An update to the post here.

I had understood that I had a reasonable time to be able to take shots both in the auditorium and back-stage, I was a little taken aback when Hester told me I would have only thirty minutes - "it should be enough, shouldn't it?". Well it would have to be I thought and after confirming that I did indeed want to take some shots on-stage and back-stage my host went to speak to "the crew" and, on returning, informed me that I had more time, though she couldn't say exactly how long. Hester not only let me wander about the stage but also suggested other places that might interest me and offer different perspectives, for which I was and still am very grateful. 

The Auditorium

The view from the stage "down front" i.e. the view from the actor's perspective. Some of the stage light can be sen clearly on the balcony structure and the "technical" box centre and rear of the theatre. The shot left is of a row of seats, the theatre is justly proud of it's boast of clear sight lines from all seat. The shot clearly edicts the raking of the floor and the reclining angle of the seats.
The view from the balcony clearly depicts the limited view - almost like a television. This shot is taken "head-height as if from the third row; the first two rows does have a slight visual impediment with the safety rail. The set for the current production "Barefoot in the Park" can be seen - more later. The exit, again on the balcony floor has a high contrast design which I think is to aid direction in poor light.

The technical area is situated at the back of the auditorium and has a clear sight of the stage. This shot (right), taken at head height, shows a slight limitation in the sight line due to the balcony bridge above. The "set" is clearer in this shot. An additional shot of the technical area shows a greater extent of the technology in use.

A view of the view of the auditorium from the perspective of a orchestra conductor. The gantries are quite visible from here where spot lights and other lighting affects might emanate from.


Two shots of the "set" from one of the "lofts. The backcloth of the New York cityscape is clearly visible. This touring production starring, amongst others Maureen Lipman, has very robust scenery and can be seen in construction here.

In the shots above and here can be seen niches on stage that serve as changing areas, collection points for props etc. It was difficult to determine what wasn't, appearing as an untidy collection of random bits and pieces, it was best to try and not disturb anything. I remember once going backstage a the Festival Hall and seeing the scenery there for a production of "The Nutcracker" which had liberal helpings of "Kellogs", soap powder as the scenery had a lot of cardboard and didn't need to be that sturdy, whereas this set needs to be strong enough to be assembled and disassembled multiple times reliably as it tours the country.

Some further shots of "quick-change" areas just "off-set". I found it interesting that the "back-cloth" extended all the across the full width of the stage, maybe this helped to maintain the characterisation during the moments off-stage.

Shots here depict the solidity of the set and the clear instructions as well as entrances/exits
Backstage Technical

The workshop, where all the majority of the sets for Playhouse productions are made. This shot on the left depicts the height, which must be over twenty feet. The loading entrance is depicted right - Hester waiting patiently.

This loft (left) is the fly loft where the back cloths are controlled. It was very ordered by comparison to the "lx" loft - see later. There were two accesses to the lofts, the one I took via the stairs back-stage and as depicted right via a ladder, another shot to portray the height if the stage area.

The "lx" loft, which stands for lighting effects looks incredibly complex - I wasn't allowed onto the platform, I think because of health and safety issues! I prefer the tighter portrait version.

Private area

One of the dressing rooms, these articles of clothing and other pieces belong to the current cast, I was conscious that Hester was looking at me as took the shot - not sure what was on her mind, maybe "hurry up", maybe "just keeping an eye on the personal belongings"? Either way it was an interesting insight, if somewhat voyeuristic. The "Green Room" on the right isn't a pretty place, perfunctory with some facilities for refreshment and relaxation before, during and after shows. I thought it was interesting to have prints of very successful actors on the wall, as if to say "follow that"!

This room, which was marked Laundry held costumes, wig stands and other costume bits and pieces. A small room which meant there was a lot of lens distortion which I have tried to compensate for

And finally...

And finally Hester, who whilst waiting for me to complete the back stage shots was reading a newspaper on stage - actually a stage prop I think. The softness came about because I was working in very low light back stage when I saw this opportunity and I didn't change the film speed for this very quickly grabbed shot. I think the softness gives it a wistful quality.

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