This week’s main show at the ADC Theatre is a play combining two classical Greek tragedies, Oedipus and Antigone. I had the pleasure of attending the dress rehearsal this past Tuesday over lunch. This is an intense show with very strong performances. One after the other the actors impressed on stage. There is a preview of the play in Varsity, and two reviews: one in Varsity and one in The Cambridge Student if you are curious to learn more. You can book your tickets on the ADC Theatre webpage, the show runs until Saturday.
There is a reason why the old Greek classics have stuck around for so long. They contain powerful stories that echo through time. This is a remake set in a modern Thebes with cameras and journalists on stage, directed by Robbie Taylor Hunt. For those new to the blog, what I do is show a selection of the photos, and tell my side of the experience, and how I captured the pictures.
The stage has a stylised white decor, built with multiple levels. I shot the last two dress rehearsals with my old camera, but for this show I brought out the new one. It is a little bit quieter than the old one, and the focus sensor is supposed to be able to have better low light performance. I used single point auto-focus on my old camera, and it had a tendency to hunt for focus when it got darker. This camera has the option to use a group of centrally placed focus points, which together with better sensors, means it managed to lock on focus in most of the shots, and do so rather quickly. At the time of the dress rehearsal all the lights had not been set properly, and some of the scenes were quite dark. Having good equipment is a crutch you can lean on when you either make mistakes, such as underexposing, or are photographing in poor light conditions. There are still things you can do, like focusing on the subjects that are in light, making the people in darkness around them almost part of the decor, or using silhouettes against a bright background to capture the scene in a more stylised way.
I always enjoy dress rehearsals. You have strong emotional content delivered right there in front of you. It is like a distilled version of real life, and when you get home you have such a wide range of photos after just a couple of hours of photographing. It is easy to get addicted to this.
What have I learned from this dress rehearsal? I took about 900 photos, and with the new camera these files are huge (around 40MB each). I did not have enough disk space on my laptop to download all photos directly. This meant a bit of juggling to sort through the photos. I think the solution is to start taking fewer photos. I have probably said it before, but it is difficult when there is fast paced action, or great scenes and you want to make sure you get the good shot. With the old camera I needed to take more pictures to make sure there was one where the subject was in focus, once I can start trusting the auto-focus on the new camera to perform in low light I might reduce the number of shots. Then again, you want to capture the right moment. So we might be back at taking lots of photos during intense scenes. All that is just technicalities, but important none the less, since editing takes a long time.
This was a great play with a great and friendly cast and I am very happy that I had the opportunity to photograph their dress rehearsal. I hope you have a chance to see it!
Oedipus – Alasdair McNab
Jocasta – Laura Waldren
Antigone – Rhianna Frost
Creon – Tom Beaven
Teiresias – Kay Dent
Ismene – Helena Eccles
Shepard – Ryan Monk
Haemon – Marco Young
Chorus – Rose Reade, Harry Gower, Connie Bennett, Rebecca Thomas, Ed Broadhead, Bea Svistunenko, Joanna Vymeris
Director – Robbie Taylor Hunt
Producer – Helen Lam
Assistant Producer – Gabriel Agranoff
Set Designer – Matt Penellum
Costume and Make-up Designer – Marina Anastasi, Freddie Cooke
Lighting Designer – Bethany Craik, David Wood
Chief Electrician – Ian Leith
Deputy Stage Manager – James Wright
Publicity Designer – Victoria Bellamy
Publicity Photographer – Chloe Carroll
Technical Director – Lydia Clark
Stage Manager – Lewis Scott
Assistant Producer – Joe Winters
Assistant Stage Manager – Issy Gately
Trailer Cinematographer – Elias Wynshaw
Photographer – Johannes Hjorth