Monday, January 19, 2009

Wonder why Alice has no shoes

"In a sea of silky, swirling parachute fabric that is being whipped into tidal waves by a cast of eight circling dancers, Caroline Cohen, who plays Alice, rehearses a scene from danceRINK's version of Alice in Wonderland at the Theatre Project. The performance is adapted from a vintage 1950 radio-play."

Photographers most of the time know what they are going to get with a performance. Be it a concert or theatrical play, the moments are already written, the lights are focused and it mostly depends on your angle in order to get something unique.

When I was in college (why does that already seem like so long ago?) I shot theater performances three or four times a year. New productions typically came out once a semester in the Center for Arts on campus.

I had gotten to know some of the directors and staff pretty well and they always treated me good and give me some great access. It didn't hurt that one of my friends had more connections than I did and also worked on building the sets and generating ideas for the lighting design.

So whenever I went to shoot opening night or the final dress rehearsal, I found myself dangling from the rafters and making some pretty interesting frames.

In December, I got a late night call Saturday to see if I could shoot the final dress rehearsal of danceRINK's version of Alice in Wonderland at the Theatre Project. I took it and was fairly excited to shoot a dance/play again.

On my way inside Theatre Project, which I had never been to before, I was thinking of the possibilities of getting some images from the rafters or images that really used the lighting artistically.

To my dismay, the studio was small with no catwalks and the lighting had yet to be focused and setup, too. But those two things wouldn't be the only thing to disappoint me.

From the minute I walked in, I found out the director to be fairly stressed out and that what I was about to shoot was anything but the final practice.

I quickly was informed that this wasn't a dress rehearsal, yet a photo call. In other words, select cast would stand there as I shot photos how the director wanted.

I began trying to work with the director, have him reenact some scenes or let me shoot things how I was instructed on my assignment. But I wasn't getting any leverage.

Before I knew it, I was being told not to shoot certain people, certain parts of their costume and more importantly none of Alice's feet; no shoes.

Racking my brain to be more creative, I started running around like a mad man to get a different angle. I started breaking every rule the director set as well.

Before I knew it, it was all over. But I insisted that he have the cast reenact the parachute scene that the reporter had wanted.

But I was reminded, "No shoes, remember, we don't have the shoes yet, please don't shoot her feet."

At this point, I was simply frustrated. I can't say I did it on purpose, but laying on the ground, I kept seeing the above frame of vibrant blue fabric swirling in my face. The contrasting red and white socks did it for me as I grabbed a frame I knew made the director wince.

But in the end, I got what I wanted and probably what the director wanted. Three pictures from this half-hour shoot ran in the paper, including the above which surprised me.

Alas, I was actually going to go see the performance after finding out my friend's significant other was in the show, but I feared the director would behead me after he must have said he better not see any below the waist Alice shots in print.

Little did I know, he had cut the pages out of the paper and mounted them on poster boards. He loved them. Or so I was told.


Anonymous Mary Johnson said...

I love the socks in this picture. They totally inspired me to get some myself. I found some for a great price at

Love the picture though--it's great!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 12:17:00 PM  

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