Pericles, Prince of Tyre

In the original play John Gower introduces each act with a prologue, in this play he has been replaced by a gardener. Here she introduces the daughter of King Antiochus, who appears to not have all her horses at home (to directly translate a Swedish saying). In this shot I played around a bit with the black and white conversion, making the green darker to put more emphasis on the actresses.
King Antiochus presents Pericles with a riddle. Whoever solves it can marry his daughter, unfortunately for Pericles things are a bit more complicated. This was also a tricky shot, because the sky was quite bright, and the actors were both clad in black. Thankfully there is a lot of dynamic range hidden away in the RAW files which allowed me to darken the sky and brighten the foreground.

I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother’s flesh which did me breed.
I sought a husband, in which labour
I found that kindness in a father:
He’s father, son, and husband mild;
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
As you will live, resolve it you.

Reading between the lines Pericles instantly understands that King Antiochus is having an incestuous relationship with his daughter, and that if the he reveals the truth he will be killed, likewise if he fails the riddle he will be killed, so he stalls for time. Antiochus grants him 40 days, and Pericles flees the city pursued by an assassin. This is the start of a long adventure with many twists and turns.

The Shakespeare festival in Cambridge is taking place in July and August. They had some of their actors roaming the city handing out flyers. I got one of the flyers and decided to send the group an email and ask if they wanted some photos of the dress rehearsals, which is how I got in touch with David Crilly, the artistic director who invited me to the rehearsals yesterday. The festival has four plays running in parallel, which meant that I could just photograph one. David recommended the Pericles rehearsal as it was the most visual production.

After fleeing Antiochus, Pericles arrives in the starving city Pentapolis which he rescues by generously giving away the seed in his cargo.
It is in Pentapolis that he meets Thaisa, whom he eventually marries and then they leave Pentapolis together. I like the movement in this photo, with the fabric flying and their happy faces. This shot needed colour, so I did not convert it to black and white.
Unfortunately for Perciles and his family, his ship is once again hit by a storm. During the storm his daughter Marina is born, and his wife dies. They had a big piece of cloth which they were waving up and down on the stage to illustrate the waves of the storm. Very creative!
Pericles mourns the loss of Thaisa, but there is nothing he can do so the coffin is thrown overboard to appease the gods and make the storm end. There are two things that this shot had going for it, the first is the expression of emotions, the other is the arching lines that the dark trees and the bright sky makes that lead the viewer’s eyes down to Pericles and Thaisa.
Marina and Pericles part ways, for what I believe was intended to be just a short time, but that for various reasons turned out to be a more permanent arrangement.
Marine grows up to be more gifted and beautiful than the queen’s daughter, so naturally her reaction is to have Marina killed. Those were dangerous times. I could have kept this shot in colour, but I wanted it a bit more dramatic. Making it black and white also made it possible to reduce the intensity of the green colours in the black and white mix, effectively darkening the trees and bushes in the background putting more focus on Marina.
By using her wits Marina manages to foil the assassin. I just like the expressions in this shot.
However, somehow she ends up captive in a brothel.
Another customer… Those who have read my theatre posts on the blog before might recognise this angle. I like having one person in the foreground, while showing the person they are interacting with blurry in the background. Here I have darkened the trees on the left with a graduated filter in Photoshop to lead the eye back into the right half. I forgot to mention that in most shots that show a sky I have reduced the luminosity of the blue channel and applied a slight graduated filter to decrease highlights or exposure.


Things do not go as planned, Marina falls in love with the customer and turns him virtuous. The brothel owner is not pleased.
I like the expression of happiness on her face, and the lines that the tree forms leading in towards her.
Marina is reunited with her father Pericles who has been refusing to talk since he lost her.
Meanwhile, Thaisa was not dead, but living as a priestess for the goddess Diana. What makes this shot for me is the pose of the woman in the background, you can see how she is stopping her move in surprise as she learns that it is Pericles, her husband that they are crowning.
At last the family is reunited. No idea who the guy on the right is.
So the story ends, the gardener closes the play.

Pericles is a bit of an unknown play, and its origin is contested. The current belief is that Shakespeare wrote about half of the play. For more details, see a book on the subject, or do what I did and read Wikipedia. If you have time, go see the play which is full of twists and turns. I sometimes had a bit of a problem following what was going on, but then again I am not well versed in the poetic Shakespeare-speak. It was entertaining, and the cast did a brilliant job. Robinson College had a good outdoor stage, with good lights, a blessing when photographing.

Yesterday was a busy day, we had the fourth postdoc photography workshop in the morning (there will be a post about that later). Until next time!

– Johannes

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