All throughout high school I had a job. The majority of that time was rising through the ranks of a local bar restaurant, where I’m fairly certain that experience allowed me get a job to sit at a desk in college and monitor a theater building.
Because of that experience, the sitting and the watching on a constant basis, I made friends with theater kids and got to witness everything that happens to make a show open. I also made friends that were into improv.
Watching improv made me appreciate it a lot more and get into performance comedy. When I moved to Chicago, I made friends with people who were into sketch comedy and the cycle of me being around performance art continued. I started picking up photography more heavily and started photographing a few sketch shows at Stage773.
After a little work with the Chicago Children’s Theatre, and a few years away from the performing arts while I continued to pursue web development, I began working with Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago.
With me being back into the theater space again, I wanted to document the process of a show. From the evolution of the actors to the evolution of the set and everything in between. With sketch comedy, the sets are very minimal as the focus is often on the content of the piece (or the props). Sketch is a lot of fun in that I have to be prepared for anything and hope I get as many quality moments as I can in a very short amount of time.
Theater is a bit of a different beast and evolves over time. Things changes. Things are a lot slower. All of this means that, as long as I show up with a camera, I can capture the process.
The first show I was able to be a part of at VGT was Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Gary Griffin. I won’t get into the detail of the performance, but the Chicago Tribune and Time Out Chicago had a few good words to say about it.
What I love about the creative process is that, unless you are part of the process, you only see the final product. There are a lot of talented people that work on the creation of a polished piece. The more I know about the process, the more interest I have in the final piece. I hope that’s a similar situation for anyone reading all these words, because I wrote a lot of them and it could be rather boring otherwise.
Besides the set and production photography, I also photographed opening night, some post-show events, had some photos in the Chicago Tribune, as well as doing the graphic design (not the photography, that was by Saverio Truglia) for the posters and the ads that were placed all over the city.
It was a crazy, but fun, past few months and I look forward to what happens next!
Production Notes: Actors in photographic appearance from left-to-right Keith Kupferer, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Cheryl Graeff, Stef Tovar, Leah Karpel. Set Design: Yu Shibigaki. Costume Design: Janice Pytel. Lighting Design: Jesse Klug. Sound Design: Chris LaPorte. Prop Design: Jesse Gaffney. Fight Choreographer: Ryan Bourque. Stage Manager: Dennis J. Conners.