Manon/Sandra premiers tonight. I just got back from the dress rehearsal with Jamie Webb, Clara Strandhoj, Laura Batey and Johannes Ruhkstuhl. Stealing the snippet about the play from Camdram:

“She touched me all over, just like I’d touched the body of Our Lord.”

Manon needs God to speak to her. Sandra needs to fuck somebody.

This fearless and passionate play touches on the lives of two women obsessed. Manon is chaste, lonely and desperate for divine release. Sandra is a transvestite, driven by a primal desire for sexual gratification that drifts into religious ecstasy.

Each untouched, their stories intertwine. One can’t stop touching her wine red rosary beads, the other wants to paint on her lover’s body with green lipstick. Both are outcasts. Both are frantic. Both want to feel someone else’s skin against theirs.

Translated from Québécois French by John Van Burek, this play is a snapshot of passion and desperation, in the form of interweaving monologues. Welcome to the stage the sacred and the damned.


Here are the photos from the dress rehearsal. Enjoy! A link to the ticket booking webpage is at the bottom of this post.

Johannes Ruckstuhl sitting in the control room at the ADC Theatre
I arrived a bit early for the show, and Johannes Ruckstuhl walked me through the lighting setup for the scenes from the control room.
Laura applying makeup on Jamie
Director Laura Batey helping Jamie Webb to apply make-up and with plucking his eyebrows.
Clara Strandhoj and holding up some prayer beads
Prayer beads, and nothing else…
Jamie with virgin Mary
Do not forget your Hail Marys each day.
Warming up on the ADC Stage
A bit of warm-up dancing before the dress rehearsal starts.
Laura feeling Jamie's shaved legs
Jamie shaved for the role. Laura is pleased.

The dress rehearsal starts.

Jamie in action
Jamie’s side is brightly lit from front and side, so I side step to get some shadows on him.
Jamie looking into the mirror
There is a mirror on stage, which makes for a great photo opportunity. I was trying to will him to take one step closer to get a more compact composition. Need to work on my telepathy and/or mind control skills.
Clara as a nun
Clara’s side of the stage is not as well lit, and on top of that she is wearing all black. This makes it tricky to define her shape, and the orthodox clothing does not help either.
Jamie Webb
Jamie on his side is now applying some form of body paint.
Since the movements on stage were quite restricted I was able to jump up on stage and shoot this photo from behind.
Clara Strandhoj and the Virgin Mary
Clara having a heart to heart with a too absent God, wondering if he has found a fresher soul and forgotten about hers.
Clara praying
Clara, give me a few quotes to put here!
Clara upset with God
She is not happy with God.
Clara Strandhoj, Virgin Mary and God.
Not happy at all!
Clara Strandhoj
Despair. Here during this scene I was stepping backwards while shooting, adding more and more black space around Clara.
Jamie sitting on the bed
Jamie on his side is also having some darker moments.
Jamie wiping off the makeup
I like that the mirror gives us two angles of Jamie.
Normally I just ignore the exit sign and photoshop it out, but here I was trying to incorporate it into the photo.
Jamie centre stage
One of the sex scenes that the play walks us through.
Jamie sitting by the mirror
I like the simple composition in this photo. When there is less movement on stage, I have more time to plan my shots and move into position.
Clara lying on the floor
During Jamie’s monologue Clara has been lying still on the ground on her side. I am shooting from a low position to see it from her angle.
Clara sitting on the floor next to Virgin Mary
More God-dispair. I am trying to keep the statue of Mary in the photos whenever I can.
Clara arms out
The black dress disappears into the black background.
Jamie sitting on the floor, Clara blurry in the foreground
As the play progresses the two stories start to intervene more and more, and I am trying to capture both Clara and Jamie in the same shot.
Jamie looking down, solemn
More doubt and darkness. Again I am shooting from the side, as head on would give me a very flat lighting.
Jamie's and Clara's poses mirror one another
I am on the far right of the stage. Clara has a static pose during Jamie’s monologue, and I am shooting frame after frame, trying to create an interesting composition. Then Jamie takes this pose, and I am happy.
Jamie and Clara praying
Here I am starting to get even more ambitious, and try and get Jamie, Clara and the statue in the same frame.
Clara having an orgasm on stage
A Jesus-gasm? Jamie has just talked about his feelings for the pious Clara who he never dared to approach.
Clara having an orgasm with the statue of Virgin Mary looking on in the background
Here I chose to do the photo in black and white to make the statue in the background stand out more.
Clara kneeling
Clara on her knees
It is not easy being Manon.
Clara and Jamie interacting with each other for the first time in the play
Jamie walks over to Clara’s side of the stage, and I try and line up them and the statue as Clara is reenacting one of Manon’s holy moments.
Jamie looking at Clara kneeling
Jamie and Clara looking off to the side

The play runs Wednesday to Saturday this week at the ADC Theatre. You can find your ticket on the ADC webpage. The Varsity review gave the Manon/Sandra a well deserved 4.5 stars.

If you want to see more photos of Jamie and Clara, then check out the blog post about our previous photo shoot.

This is the 200th blog post. Small celebratory dance!

– Johannes


Manon – Clara Strandhoj
Sandra – Jamie Webb

Production Team
Director – Laura Batey
Producer – Johannes Ruckstuhl
Photography – Johannes Hjorth


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