Ride & Fourplay at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company

Tom O'Sullivan and Emma Palmer in Ride

Tom O'Sullivan and Emma Palmer in Ride

I've been doing a bit of work recently with the lovely folks at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company, who are based in the (amazing!) Eternity Theatre, not far from my office in Surry Hills here in Sydney.  

Their latest show, Ride & Fourplay, which opened last week, is actually two one-act plays by author Jane Bodie put together for the first time; curiously though, they feel absolutely right together.

In Ride, two people wake up next to each other, and try to establish how they got there. (Or, indeed, where their clothes are!) We, as the audience, are of course learning who they are as we go - so each new detail fills in a small piece for us as well, slowly building the characters through their memories.

In Fourplay, it's more an intersection of triangles - two men, two women, their lives interconnected and overlapping. It's an interesting juxtaposition with the first piece, where they were two people mostly contained in the centre of the stage; this time, they're spread out across the entirety of the stage, often talking to each other across great distances compared with the constant proximity of the two characters in Ride.

Of course, that makes it interesting in terms of photography - I tend to try to limit the number of solo images I come back with from a show, as I find the interactions, connections and reactions of characters to each other to be at least as interesting as a solo portrait of someone speaking a line. But with so much separation between the actors much of the time, it definitely kept me on my feet - moving around the theatre constantly, finding a point of view that would give me that interaction in a single frame, when the actors were frequently separated by some distance.

They're both interesting works (I don't want to give away too much about them!), and definitely worth seeing - as is the amazing venue, the Eternity Theatre, if you haven't been in before.

Tom O'Sullivan and Emma Palmer in Ride (wide shot with full set, for designer's portfolio)

Tom O'Sullivan and Emma Palmer in Ride (wide shot with full set, for designer's portfolio)

Having spent so much time in the last couple of months writing a series of essays on photographing the arts, of course I really wanted to make sure I did all the things I'd suggested! I stopped short of re-reading my own essays before going to rehearsal, but I was conscious of making sure I had good coverage at different scales, keeping an eye out for the square crop, Facebook banner & good vertical or double-page print options I mentioned here; and of course, aiming to create images that intrigue the viewer without giving away too much about the show, as I talked about in this essay.

The thing I hadn't anticipated when I started writing the series, though, is that people (who might not realised I'd written it) might start asking me for things I'd mentioned. Before the rehearsal started, one of the designers had popped over to ask me to make sure I got the kind of images that would be useful for their portfolio - just as I'd written in this article!

It may have been a coincidence, of course - but with so many people on the ArtsHub mailing list, it's hard to know who saw it and who didn't. Coincidence or not, it was good to see someone had been thinking about things the same way I do, and wanting to make sure they got the best results they could from the shoot.

That's great, though - I like it when people care about photography!

p.s. there's a new essay on photographing the arts coming in a week, so sign up below if you'd like to be notified when it comes out - and follow me on Twitter or Facebook to hear about new essays immediately.