All My Sons

In this blog post I bring you another theatre play. Hannah Calascione asked if I wanted to photograph the dress rehearsal of All My Sons by Arthur Miller, to which, as you might gather by the existence of this post, I said yes. I ended up shooting both at the tech rehearsal and the dress rehearsal, although to be completely honest from the tech I mostly got shots of the actors goofing around in the dressing room. They are a really fun crowd! Those photos are at the end. If you have not seen the play already, then go check it out. It is playing at the ADC Theatre 14-18 October 2014. You can read the Varsity preview and their review here (where it got 4.5/5 stars).

The play starts with a storm: leaves blowing and virtual rain falling from the sky. Kate, the mother, (played by Jazz Jagger) is awakened by a crashing sound. I was not really ready when the play started, so was happy to manage to capture this shot, because Jazz was in and out quite quickly.
Frank Lubey (played by David Matthews) inspects the damage. The tree has a strong symbolic value in the play, and I was positioned close to it just in front of the stage. I wanted Frank, the tree, and ideally Joe Keller (played by Chris Born) in the background.
Here I have cleaned up the background a bit to remove anything that distracts from the actors. Looking again I can see that I missed a piece of the house on the right which I should have taken out with content-aware fill.
Here my focus was on Chris Keller (played by Tom Russel), to capture his gesture. The people in the foreground provide context and give the image a bit of depth.
This photo made me pause a bit, I was not sure how to process it. Here is a cropped version, the original photo extends to the left. I am still not sure this is the right choice, but it gives more focus on their interaction.
All is not roses. Here I like the black line between their heads which line up with Chris’s gaze.
Old mom arrives on set, breaking up the fight. I picked this photo because I like the framing of it. Even though Jazz is small, she is in focus and the centre of attention.
Here I had been waiting with the tree in the foreground for her to acknowledge that it was broken.
We are introduced to Ann Deever (played by Aoife Kennan), here left in the photo. I noted that they were roughly equally spaced, and moved to try and get clear separation between them. I like that their heads line up on an almost diagonal line.
I wanted to have Jazz’s expression, and the boy and Chris in the background slightly out of focus. Looking at this photo again I see that the boy is not as visible as it was in the colour version. There is also a distracting white dot in the upper left corner.
For some scenes you have to be on your toes in order to get good separation between the actors as they move around. I also want as many faces visible as possible if I have a choice.
Another photo that I made black and white. However, reevaluating it again I wonder if the hands of Tom and Jazz are more visible in the colour version. Or perhaps I am just getting tired now as it is getting late here…
A bit of on stage love between Aoife and Tom. I took several shots, but picked the one just before they kissed. I have also cleaned up the background a little bit but left the white structure in the bottom left corner in order not to have it completely empty there. I am trying to keep the two sides balanced.
Aoife Kennan and Tom Russel kissing in front of a surprised Chris Born. This is one of my favourite shots from the dress rehearsal. I like the colours, the composition, and the moment it captures.
This one was a bit tricky, the light was very orange. In the end I decided to do it black and white and add a bit of vignetting.
Here I was lucky to get all five of the actors on stage in the shot. The argument revolves around the father sitting in the background. Unfortunately I missed the shot where Jazz slapped Chris’s face a few minutes later. I was not expecting that!

hjorthmedh-all-my-sons-18-argument hjorthmedh-all-my-sons-19-fight hjorthmedh-all-my-sons-20-candle hjorthmedh-all-my-sons-21-letter hjorthmedh-all-my-sons-22-more-argument hjorthmedh-all-my-sons-23-shot hjorthmedh-all-my-sons-24

It is not a play with a happy ending. Let me instead end with some photos from the actors’ dressing room prior to the tech rehearsal.

Olivia Bowman (co-director) in action with Chris and …

For the tech rehearsal I had brought two cameras with me. Since I only have prime lenses, and switching takes a bit of time, I figured two cameras might be a poor man’s zoom. I would not recommend it. It was quite cumbersome to have two cameras dangling around my neck, and after a few hours it started getting painful. My back still hurts today. I had brought a 35 mm and an 80 mm lens with me. Turns out my favourite focal length for photographing at the ADC theatre is 50 mm. So at least I learned that lesson. For the dress rehearsal I only brought one camera and the trusted 50 mm lens. Oh, and you look quite silly with two cameras around your neck. I prefer to have only one camera, and be more mobile.

James Dobbyn with his new hat.
Eleanor Collvile and David Matthews. This photo just got the focus nailed, I can see the outline of myself reflected in their eyes in the full resolution version! For a slightly higher resolution version, click the photo.
Eleanor and Aoife.
Lauren Brown and David Matthews.
Just scroll down to the next photo, thanks. 😉
Did I mention that they have rebuilt the stage to have real grass? Here Josie Wastell and Sam Payne.
Hannah caught on digital film while raiding the birthday cake someone had left behind.
Shanti Daffern in action. Here I was trying to get a low angle to get the sound guy up in the window above, but he managed to dodge the photo.

This post got really photo heavy. I hope you enjoyed the pictures, and if you have a chance, go and see the show! It is really good! You can find a list of my theatre related blog posts here.

– Johannes

Reviews: The Cambridge Student (7/10), Varsity (4.5/5), The Tab

Joe Keller – Chris Born
Kate Keller – Jazz Jagger
Chris Keller – Tom Russell
Ann Deever – Aoife Kennan
George Deever – Gabriel Cagan
Dr Jim Bayliss – James Dobbyn
Sue Bayliss – Lauren Brown
Frank Lubey – David Matthews
Lydia Lubey – Eleanor Colville
Bert – William Clare

Production Team
Producer – Lewis Scott
Assistant Producer – Hannah Piercy
Publicist – Henry St Leger-Davey
Lighting Designer – Shanti Daffern
Chief Electrician – Jon French
Publicity Designer – Craig Slade
Deputy Stage Manager – Josie Wastell
Costume Designer – Ellie Beveridge
Costume Assistant – Matt Jordan
Sound Designer – Jamie Rycroft
Assistant Set Designer – Matilda Ettedgui
Set Designer – Zoe Higgins
Hair and Makeup Designer – Juliana Pars
Hair and Makeup Assistant – Sarah Caulfield
Production Photographer – Ed Bryan
Stage Manager/Head Gardener – Sam Payne
Technical Director/Horticulturist – Jack Swanborough
Gardener – Hannah Edwards
Carpenter – Lydia Clark
Director – Olivia Bowman, Hannah Calascione
Photographer – Johannes Hjorth

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