Focus on Naatak “Arsenic and Old Lace”: America’s premier Indian theater company launches its sixtieth production

Naatak Indian Theater’s sixtieth production, an adaptation of the classic black comedic film “Arsenic and Old Lace,” opened yesterday and will run through November 19, 2017.  If you live in or will be visiting the San Francisco Bay Area during this show’s run, I highly recommend your attending a performance.  For more information or to order tickets, visit: Naatak Arsenic and Old Lace.

I had the privilege of shooting the tech rehearsal and one of the first performances.  Today’s post shares some of my favorite images from both the tech rehearsal and the performance.  I will refrain from providing commentary on the action in each image, so as not to spoil the narrative. I will, however, provide a few technical tips regarding how the images were made.

During downtime at rehearsals, be on the lookout for interesting shots.  Here the director addresses the entire cast before beginning a run-through.

For the most dramatic images, choose your depth-of-field carefully.  In this shot, I wanted the character in the foreground to be tack-sharp while the background character was still mostly in focus, so I selected a medium sized aperture in order to render a moderate depth-of-field.

Shoot a lot of images to ensure that a few capture just the right expressions on all the actors’ faces.

Just because you’re documenting a live performance doesn’t mean you can’t render the images artistically.  I framed this dramatic moment to include lots of negative space around the actors, and in post-processing I lowered the black-point so as to surround the action with a completely black background.

Highlighting the little elements can make for pleasing images.  I used a medium focal length (85mm) portrait lens to capture this image of an eccentric character, cropping it to allow the windows to provide a frame-within-a-frame.

Good theater is created in large part by the ensemble, with actors reacting to the action around them.  Try to capture not only the active characters but also the ones reacting more passively to them.

Not every action shot needs to be zoomed in up-close.  Here I captured the dramatic interplay among the cast members using a normal (50mm) lens to allow the whole scene to be included.

One of the joys of this production is the elaborate two-story-high set, so during the curtain calls I wanted to be sure to include the upper gallery.

How do you translate dramatic performances into still images?  Please share your thoughts here.

Want to read more posts about what to shoot while traveling and near home?  Find them all here: Posts on What to Shoot.


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