Sunday, April 16, 2017

Characters Galore

By Erin Percival

On March 27, 1961, the International Theatre Institute instated World Theatre Day. On March 27, 2017, I am submitting a blog post detailing my volunteer experience with our own local theatre organization.

Theatre Sarnia has been a fixture in Sarnia since 1927, making it one of the oldest continuously operating theatre groups in Canada. It has undergone a few name changes and venue changes over the course of a near-century, and now is one of the few Canadian theatre groups to own its own theatre. This year marks my own tenth anniversary with our local theatre community, which I have volunteered for in various capacities over the last decade. Most recently, I helped to conceptualize and shoot promo materials, cast and crew headshots, and even an opening credits sequence for the upcoming production of The 39 Steps.

Presented with a cast of only four actors collectively portraying over 20 men, women, children, and objects, I was tasked with creating promotional materials that would showcase the diversity of the characters. Initially, I was presented with a sketch for a concept that was somewhat akin to the old Brady Bunch intro sequence, but I felt inspired by last year’s Digital Darkroom “Multiplicity” assignment. I knew we could create something truly special.

Because the director and I had opted to shoot all photo and video in one night and all on-location at the rehearsal space, I was forced to take a more minimalist approach with my gear and put my skills to the test. One strobe with a large softbox, a reflector, and a 4’ wide gray backdrop was all I could fit into the limited space.

Working with a simple, even lighting setup that would look natural once the individual images were combined into one group shot, we got to work. As I had limited familiarity with the show, the director, Ian Alexander, stood by to help his cast come up with dynamic poses that would represent each character and translate well to a composite. Several chaotic hours later, it was up to me to cull 108 images down to 17 and merge them into one. I’ll spare our readers the tale of my thrilling night with the Select and Mask tool; just know that with the help of many extra-large coffees, I got there in the end.

From this…The resulting images, ready to be sorted and narrowed down. Photos By Erin Percival
To this…The final choices, roughly positioned in one document.
Photos By Erin Percival
 To the final product...To the final product.
Photos By Erin Percival

The 39 Steps runs from March 31st to April 8th at the Imperial Theatre.

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