This past Sunday the European Tour Group was having their dress rehearsal of Macbeth. The show is directed by Nicholas Hulbert and will be travelling to the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and France over the next two weeks. Their dress rehearsal was in Fitzpatrick Hall in Queens’ College. There would be no performance there for an audience, instead it was their chance to make sure everything was working before hitting the road. So I felt quite privileged to be able to get a private viewing. The set was quite minimalistic, but in the centre of the stage was a big pool filled with water. When I arrived they were still doing a bit of teching to get the light cues right, so I had a little bit of time to chat with a few of the cast and crew and snap a few bonus photos. One of the questions I asked was if I could walk around on stage during the rehearsal…

An example of the great lighting designed by Shanti Daffern, showing that with a hazer and some spotlights you can create a bit of visual magic. This behind-the-scenes shot with Oliver Duff was taken shortly before the dress rehearsal started.
Rhianna Frost as one of the Witches. Strong spotlights are a bit tricky to work with, since you get very strong contrasts especially as here the actress is all in black. I have lifted the shadows a lot to bring out her dress.
Ed Limb and Declan Amphlett. This photo was a bit too dark, but it is amazing what the sensor lets you get away with. Here I pushed the exposure 3.4 stops which corresponds to boosting the light by about a factor of 10. A bit of grain can be forgiven then.
Rhianna Frost and Guy Clark, with Kate Reid in the background. I shot several frames from a similar angle. This is a composite shot of three exposures as each one of the actors in the picture looked best in different ones.
Will Bishop and Declan Amphlett. You get very stylised photos when the stage is so minimalistic which puts the focus on the actors and their costumes.
Laura Waldren as Lady Macbeth.
Tom Russel as Macbeth. I felt the pool looked a bit empty so took the liberty to add a bit of mist over it. It would have been really nice if there was a bit of dry ice in there generating smoke.
Still it cried ‘Sleep no more!’ to all the house: ‘Glamis hath murder’d sleep, and therefore Cawdor Shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.’


If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well
It were done quickly.


Approach the chamber and destroy your sight
With a new Gorgon. Do not bid me speak:
See and then speak yourselves.

This is a composite shot. In the frame where Alasdair Mcnab (playing Macduff) was holding out his arm I had accidentally cut off part of the pool, so I took an earlier frame and then put him in that.
Kate Reid as one of the Witches, with Julia Kass and Rhianna Frost in the background. I like the composition with the other two witches in the background. If I remember right the light was a bit tricky, so I preferred it in black and white.


How now, you secret, black and midnight hags –
What is’t you do?

All witches:
A deed without a name.

It is not every time that you can walk around on stage during a rehearsal, but I have been lucky the last few times I have photographed. This meant I can manoeuvre to get the framing I wanted, like this photo where I circled the actors. It would not have looked as good from the side.
Here you can see an example where I have blown the blue channel a bit, it is bleeding across the image. In this case the photo has a somewhat dreamy quality to it. I also like the interaction between Tom and Laura.
Just after the crazy ghost scene, Macbeth is in the pool and I was moving across the stage to frame it so that none of the actors overlapped. Also since I was shooting the entire dress rehearsal with a 50 mm lens it meant that I needed to move back if I wanted more of the stage in my view, like here.
I like this shot. I am not sure if Kate looks like a villain out of a movie or not. Again strong directed spotlights and a dark background make for quite dramatic pictures.


O Scotland, Scotland!

If such a one be fit to govern, speak.
I am as I have spoken.

A single tear makes for a beautiful photo. Laura played in Oeidipus and Antigone in a similarly emotionally charged scene.
Tom Russel storming out on stage sword in hand. This was the last frame that I managed to capture before we had to break. The sword fight scene was so close, yet so far away. Hopefully I will get a second chance when they come back from their European tour.
At 14:41 we had to break the dress rehearsal, since they needed to have the space cleared and turned into a badminton court. Eight minutes later all the audience seats were gone and it looked like this.

I hope you enjoyed this little preview of Macbeth. It is a very good play with lots of strong acting. Do not miss this one. They will be back in England performing in London at the Cockpit Theatre on 21 December, and then twice in Cambridge on January 13 and 17. You can find tickets to the play here.

Time really flies, 2015 is around the corner and this blog is about to turn one year soon.

– Johannes

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