Director’s Post #3: publicity photos

Always before we hold the publicity shoot I feel somewhat resentful that I’m going to be more or less sacrificing a rehearsal for the sake of some photos. But then on the night, I realize that with the right photographer and with proper preparation by all involved, the shoot can actually push the production forward in important ways.

Our set designer, Al Kulcsar, expedited part of the set, and I did a partial set-dressing (a job I love and always grab for myself) so the photos would be in a setting.

Mary Kulcsar had already been working with the actors on costumes, trying on various possibilities, talking about the characters’ personalities and histories with the actors and with me (wearing director’s hat); so we knew everyone would look good.

Our photographer, Michael Stanley, who’s been photographing my shows since back in the days when he was in some of them, has a wonderful eye and a lot of patience. I planned a number of shots and knew he would supplement with ideas of his own.

And on the night, as the actors came down from the dressing room in costume and took positions in the scene moments we had decided on, the characters began to take on body in a more substantial way than we had yet achieved in regular rehearsals. Playing the photo moments, amplifying the brief relevant script passage with ad-libbed conversation, the actors settled comfortably into the roles they are playing, and I could see the whole play take a giant step closer to the moment when it can be offered as reality to an audience.

Today I looked at the photos. What I saw was a world peopled not so much by my actors as by Richard, Sharky, Ivan, Nicky, and Mr. Lockhart. They are real: I have the pictures.

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