Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ghetto (Play)...

Shots from the dress rehearsal of 'Ghetto' performed by the Summer Acting Institute for Teens at The Theatre Lab, directed by Deb Gottesman, a founder and co-Director of the The Theatre Lab.

This production, a Jewish morality play about the Holocaust written by Joshua Sobol was put on as part of a four-week theatre training program for 13 - 19 year olds. It was pretty dark and adult stuff with a lot of movement in with a diverse set.

This was a dress rehearsal and the lights (spots, colored gels and such) were way off and just being aligned while I was shooting.  Because of this, I had to rely on Canon's 50mm f1.8 'nifty-fifty'.  This $99 lens is a bit soft in focus but can really pick up the light - which was necessary since there was not a lot of light happening in the first place.  Shooting off-camera flash was not really possible due to the diverse set which would have caused me to be running around with light stands changing their orientation every two minutes or so.  Given what was going on with the stage lights, this is the best I could do playing off of whatever the intermittent spots were catching.  Lots of grain here but there is some visually striking stuff going on.
Pretty confident the technical difficulties were worked out before the play opened and the show was a success!

I am not a big fan of anything graphically "Nazi"... but it was an essential element of the play. Since I can generally not hear the dialog when shooting, I think the moral of the play is that when rounded up by Nazis in a ghetto and forced to perform theatre, you should probably not make fun of the guard with the machine gun!  It is much more layered than that - but that was my initial take.
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Into The Woods (Play)...

... shots from the Theatre Lab's Musical Theatre Institute for Teens production of "Into The Woods" by Stephen Sondheim.   The musical was directed by Michael Russotto with musical direction by Buzz Mauro. 

In short, it is an amazing un-Disney retelling of classic childhood fairytales.   A huge production with a very unique stage set, amazing lights and even more amazing costumes!

I shot this during the performance, which I usually hate to do as it is a bit disruptive to the audience and limits my movement and creativity.   To boot, I was perched on top of a six foot ladder.    No flash was possible but I pulled this off with the 70-200mm f2.8 IS and the 5DmkII in aperture priority which allowed me to operate the camera with shutter speeds between 1/60 and 1/200 depending on what I was metering off of.   Not a lot of freedom of movement on that ladder to shoot in manual.

Since I was on a ladder shooting down during the performance, you can see the back of the front row of the audience... which is a different look, not unpleasent... but again, limiting as far as creativity went.    Also, the gobo'd lights, while perfect visually to the audience, made for dappled shadows on the cast's faces.    In addition, due to the unique set-up of the stage space, a neon exit sign, a wall mounted telephone and a fire extinguisher were generally visible in the background.

Great show though... amazing to see these kids in person.   You can't appreciate the effort they put forth unless you were there in person!

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