Exit, pursued by a bear

by Stefan Fletcher March. 29, 2009 5479 views

I love drama and in my distant youth was known to walk the boards myself. Ah, the joys of Thespis, the sheer agonizing funk of stage fright, the extraordinary hissy fits of your fellow artists experiencing massive stress. The only time I ever wore tights was for The Scottish Play. (That’s the story I’m sticking to, anyway). I remember trying to put them on like trousers… you know, pull both legs on at the same time…? Lady M. laughed so much she had hiccups on stage.

Perhaps I’m better off in the audience. Or maybe you are.

Photographing performing arts is a monster challenge – and a fascinating one. You have no control over lighting (arranged for audiences, not photographers) and must know the work well to get the right shot with what’s available. You also need a very fast, good quality, wide-angle lens, and that doesn’t come cheap.

One of the most sensitive and faithful theatre photographers here, in my opinion, is Julia Gotz [photoblog.com]. I strongly recommend you take a look at her work. It’s an education.

Living in Greece, there are many opportunities for drama and some of the most amazing theatres ever built.
I have few opportunities to indulge, however. None of my friends here working in theatre will let me into their dress rehearsals, the only time to take shots, IMO. I’m also put off by Greek audiences’ unnerving habit of applauding the first time an actor makes an entrance. Still, it takes all sorts… And anyway, I’ll be moving to France this year, I hope not far from Aix-en-Provence with its festival, and there, I hope to return to the bosom of the Bard, or at least M. Poquelin…

Outdoor theatre is another matter. The two shots above were so appalling in colour I spent a long time working on the B&W, and I’m rather pleased with the result. Shooting from so high above the stage, I caught the actress’s eyes in an unusual, almost disturbing way.

In keeping with the desire to find an interesting title for my posts (see Eskimo Sex and other titles [photoblog.com]), I’ve used Shakespeare’s famous stage direction in The Winter’s Tale. Actually, “Exit, pursued by a bear” describes what happened me: out of a lavatory in the Algonquin National Park, Canada, circa. 1978. But that’s another story…

As usual, feel free to criticise.

Enlarge to view weird look in actress's eyes

  Be the first to like this post
Join the conversation
There are 9 comments , add yours!
Rodica O 10 years, 5 months ago

Hehe, so I was right about you and acting!
And ... did you live in Canada as well ???!
Or just visiting ? 1978, 2009...how many times have you been here ?
I'm going to Algonquin National Park too (for the first time) at the end of May :) ...I'll bring pictures .

10 years, 5 months ago Edited
Sandra Vermeulen 11 years, 6 months ago

Creepy eyes, but great captured !

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Karen 11 years, 6 months ago

eerk, her eyes look like they're going to pop right out. Great shot though.

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Alexandra Pechabadens 11 years, 6 months ago

They look like they are having fun there. Are they really pursued by a bear?
I thought you were moving near paris, but if near aix en provence, that is very good! it will keep you closer to greece with the weather! (well,remotely near, it's probably not half as hot)
I am not that keen on drama photos and stuff, I much rather be on the stage than taking pictures of it also. Boring, to be watching!!!
But I m glad you enjoy the taking pictures because there is a need for people who enjoy simply watching!

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Robert Moffat 11 years, 6 months ago

Brilliant pictures and a brilliant blog to go with them! I miss my own theatre days (though i never trod the boards) - but this is a great blog and made me remember many things - thanks

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Rob Tulk 11 years, 6 months ago

There's a nice full range of b&w tones in these superb shots. Although I do want to see under the hat at the bottom and see what the actress is reacting to.

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Brian 11 years, 6 months ago

She's got Nancy Pelosi eyes! I think I like the guys expression in the first on the best. This is a great perspective you were able to get. I prefer B&W in almost most concerts and performances and these are great.

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Jeff Hubbard 11 years, 6 months ago

Sitting on those cold stones waiting for the right shot must be a chore. Still, the clarity of sound from those greek ampitheatres is wonderful. I daren't think what the bear was doing back there, to elicit that look from the actress - said the pope to the bishop, at the pornographers ball.

Great shots, nice use use DOF, and not too contrasty, and great balance in the B&W. :)

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Jarvo J 11 years, 6 months ago

Great shots how do you do it? Is this live with an audience, or in rehearsals? Are you free to move around or are you allocated a spot and told not to move? I presume you are in a balcony somewhere.

As for the eyes, surely that's gonna ache, if she does that for too long. Or is this just making your point about the need to be quick?

11 years, 6 months ago Edited
Copyright @Photoblog.com