A Clockwork Orange

The play starts in a milk bar, where they are drinking milk spiked with mind-altering chemicals. The entire set was beautifully done, with great attention to details. Here: Robbie Taylor Hunt, Mark Milligan and Rossana Suppa.

Early on Sunday I got a message from Alex Cartlidge, who was the producer of “A Clockwork Orange”, asking if I could come to the dress rehearsal of their play the following day. At first I was a bit hesitant as I took a few hours off work one morning last week. Luckily it turned out they were doing it in the evening, so I decided to give it a go after quickly checking what the story was about on Wikipedia.

I later learned that Anthony Burgess, who wrote the book, was so upset with the movie that he decided to write the theatre play that they were now doing. In typical theatre style the dress rehearsal did not start on time, but that gave me a chance to mingle with the cast and crew, and learn a bit about what would be happening on stage.

Alex and his gang assault a couple (played by Max Maher and Kate Reid) on the street. I initially shot this from centre stage, but then moved to the side where I was able to capture this shot with the husband in the background. Rosanna Suppa, Max Maher, Mark Milligan and Robbie Taylor Hunt and Kate Reid.
The original shot was quite dark, so I had to brighten it in post processing. I normally try to keep the clarity slider (which increases local contrast in the image) at reasonably moderate levels, but for this shot I experimented with pulling it higher.
Alex gets his brain reconditioned to reject violence.

I’ve written a few posts now about dress rehearsals. In this play most of the action had a buildup phase allowing me to get into position. I shot almost everything with my 50 mm prime lens, and did a lot of the action photos from a low angle, and trying to get in close. This often gave a black background as I exposed for the highlights in their faces. One thing that turned out to be a bit of a challenge was the strobe lighting in one scene towards the end. The light pulses were so short that I did not manage to catch them consistently with my normal shutter time. For anyone that has played around with long exposures and flashes the solution is easy, you decrease the aperture and increase the shutter time, and use the strobe as your external flash. I only did one flash per exposure, but it could have been interesting to have had the strobe flash multiple times in one shoot. In the end I decided not to include any of those shots as the light was very flat.

Rosanna Suppa, Flo Sagers, Joe Jukes, Mark Milligan, Richard Skipper and Mike Hood. The fight scenes were well choreographed. Parts of it were stylised to an aggressive dance, while other bits were pure action.
After receiving the treatment Alex is let out of prison and rejoins society, where he is put to the test: Ella Duffy as the girl seducing Alex.

There were many talented actors and actresses on stage. For example Alex (played by Mark Milligan) was a fun challenge to photograph, in some of the scenes he would change his facial expressions very quickly keeping me on my toes. I tried to get angles where I would put the actors in a context, so not only capturing the actor currently carrying the scene, but also having the others in the frame in some way. I’ll try and remember to link to the reviews from here as they get posted.

Richard Skipper and Mark Milligan. Alex returns home only to find that his parents have adopted a new “perfect” son.
Things do not go as planned for Alex… Here with Mike Hood as the Minister of the Interior.
After the play ends. Here I went a bit overboard with the editing, adding multiple textures on top.

One reason these photos come out as well as they do is because of the great lighting on stage. To photograph a dress rehearsal is like coming to one great big smörgåsbord where everything has been prepared for you already. The costumes, the choreography, the acting, everything is coming together to make the final shot. All I need to do is capture it. The play is an orgy in visual extravaganza. It was very fun to photograph, and I hope you enjoy the photos, but don’t stop there. It is even better live, so go see the play at the ADC Theatre, where you get the full experience.

A Clockwork Orange premiered earlier tonight and runs until Saturday. You can find tickets on the ADC Theatre page and Varsity has a preview on their webpage.

I’m doing another dress rehearsal tomorrow, so stay tuned for more theatre photos.

– Johannes

Reviews: Varsity (3/5), The Cambridge Student (9/10), The Tab

Update March 2021: Some of the photos from this production are now featured on the webpage of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation.

Alex – Mark Milligan
Dim, Governor, Rick – Robbie Taylor Hunt
Georgie, Warder, Len – Rosanna Suppa
Pete, Bully – Ryan Monk
Drunk Man, Pedofil, Comedian, Joe – Richard Skipper
Doc, Father, Ensemble – Joe Jukes
Minister of the Interior, Ensemble – Mike Hood
F. Alexander – Max Maher
F. Alexander’s Wife, Dr Branom, Marty – Kate Reid
Mr Deltoid, Ensemble – Tris Hobson
Chaplain – Georgie Henley
Dr Brodsky – Ed Broadhead
Billyboy, Big Jew, Rubinstein, Ensemble – Gabriel Agranoff
Naked Girl, Dolin, Ensemble – Ella Duffy
Singer, Zophar, Mother – Flo Sagers
Old Woman, Ensemble – Bethany Hutchison

Production Team
Director – Marthe de Ferrer, Ruth O’Connell Brown
Producer – Alex Cartlidge
Assistant Producer – Helen Lam, Jamie Rycroft
Set Designer – Josephine Parkinson
Musical Consultant – Jossie Evans
Stage Manager – Chris Johnston
Deputy Stage Manager – Ellie Dobbs
Assistant Stage Manager – Ploy Kingchatchaval
Cinematographer – Jordan Mitchell
Caterer – Geoffrey Logworld
Chief Electrician – Alan Egan
Associate Director – David Rattigan
Lighting Designer – Shanti Daffern, Jamie Fenton
Technical Director – Lydia Clark
Master Carpenter – Sam Draper
Fight Choreographer – Robbie Taylor Hunt
Assistant Stage Manager – Natalie Bird
Costume Designer – Roberta Huldisch
Publicity and Programme Design – Alice Walker
Aural Goddess – Jossie Evans
Sound Designer – Ryan Rodrigues
Assistant Stage Manager – Gabbie Bird
Set Painter Gods – Cait Mack, Tris Hobson, Ed Broadhead, Ploy Kingchatchaval, Gabbie Bird, Natalie Bird
Set Painter Demigods – Simon Lock, Chris Johnston, Helen Lam, Jamie Rycroft, Jossie Evans, Daniella Mae, Matthew Lee, Connor Holmes, Ryan Monk, Rosanna Suppa, Gabriel Agranoff, Georgie Henley, Joe Jukes, Mike Hood, Alex Cartlidge, Ruth O’Connell Brown
Assistant Director – Aoife Kennan
Sock Puppeteer – Aoife Kennan
Make-Up Designer – Freddie Cooke
Technical Consultant – Jack Swanborough
Dress Rehearsal Photographer – Johannes Hjorth

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