The Merchant of Venice

The Pembroke Players are doing a tour in Japan and wanted some promotion photos. Rima Dodd contacted me back in July and I thought it sounded fun. I have previously photographed another show also directed by Emma Wilkinson. If you are curious, have a look at the old Don Giovanni photos. Yesterday I went to the Corpus Playroom for the first time, it was a small and warm little stage with the audience sitting on the same level as the actors and on two sides of the square stage.

We decided to run through parts of the play, and see what shots I would get. Then after that we would pose a few static scenes and then finally end with some portrait shots of the cast and crew. Before they started acting they did a warmup which involved them standing in a circle and passing an imaginary ball of energy around. I might not have seen it, but given the reactions it caused, the ball seemed pretty real to me.

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“Shazam!”
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Joshan Chana as Salanio. One thing I like about rehearsals is that you can walk around. Here I circled the actors to find the best angle. The walls behind the stage were covered with a black curtain, which allowed me to isolate the subjects.
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George Kan as Shylock, the greedy money lender, with his daughter in the background. If you have seen my other theatre photos then you know that I like this angle where you have the main subject facing the camera, and someone in the background providing context.
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Jess Peet as Jessica (daughter of Shylock) and Sam Oladeinde, who was playing multiple roles, and in this scene Lorenzo. I’m playing a bit with the light and shadows in this photo, trying to tell the full story with just the outlines of the two actors.
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Kassi Chalk and Kate Reid. This is a composite image. Hopefully you can’t tell what I have done without cheating. If you click the image you will see it in higher resolution. To see what I did click here.
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James Ellis, Sam Grabiner and Charlie Merriman. This is the scene where Antonio has to pay a pound of flesh to the merchant. His friends are holding him. Behind me two of the actors are holding up their hands to cover one of the spotlights so that both of the friends’ faces are in shadows.
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Not sure if this scene is in the play or not. Here Sam Oladeinde is reading a letter and we asked Kate Reid and Kassi Chalk to stand in the background,
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This was a shot of Jess Peet taken in between portrait photos. It is not razor sharp, but has an old Hollywood 40-50’s feel to it, so it escaped the discard pile.

Just learned that it was possible to do image galleries, so trying it out below with the portrait photos I took. The thumbnails do not really do the photos justice, if you click on them you get a larger version.

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I did portrait shots of everyone, and it got a bit uniform so asked Sam Oladeinde to pose in profile for one of the shots. I had to move around a bit to get the spotlight behind him, which provided a nice rim light.

That’s it, about two hours of photographing condensed into a few photos. If you are curious to see the show, they are performing in Ely Cathedral (11 September, 19:30) and the Round Church (12-13 September, 19:30) before leaving for Japan. Tickets for Ely are available here.

Johannes

Reviews: Varsity (3/5), The Cambridge Student (4/10)

Cast
Antonio – James Ellis
Bassanio – Charlie Merriman
Jessica – Jess Peet
Gratiano / The Prince of Morocco / Tubal – Sam Grabiner
Nerissa – Kassi Chalk
Portia – Kate Reid
Salerio – Seb Sutcliffe
Shylock – George Kan
Lorenzo / The Prince of Arragon / Duke – Sam Oladeinde
Solanio – Joshan Chana

Production Team
Tour Manager – Rima Dodd
Tour Adviser – Matt Pullen
(Japan) Tour Coordinator – James Sharp
Director – Emma Wilkinson
Production Manager – Adam Smith
Publicity Designer – Hannah Taylor
Production Designer – Olivia Fletcher
Verse Advisor – Charlotte Quinney
Production Photographer – Johannes Hjorth

 

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