For years, I traveled around the country performing in numerous National and International Tours. Every city was new for me, and one of the most exciting moments in a new city for me, and for the rest of the cast, was stepping out onto the stage for the first time and looking out into a sea of open seats. An empty theater house. Each theater was so unique, had its own personality, and was soon to be filled every night with a different set of thousands of patrons. But standing on that stage and looking out at an empty theater house….it was simply magnificent.
There is a sense of wonder mixed with awe mixed with excitement, standing on a stage for the first time. There was the history that every theater brought with it: the shows that had played here in the past, what the theater used to be (sometimes an old vaudeville house, sometimes a converted movie theater), as well as the history of performers who had stood on that same stage and looked out at that same house. What masters and artists have stood where I am standing?
There is a sense of possibility, too. With every new show that appears onstage, a new experience is brought to thousands of theater goers. And with every new city that we were to play on tour, new experiences and stories would surely embellish and emboss our memories of these theaters and these cities, and those experiences were yet to come.
There was also a sense of belonging. Standing on that stage, I felt like I belonged. And as part of of a company of artists, past, present, and future, who stood on this stage, or that stage, or any stage across the country or across the world, there was a sense that we were not alone, but also that we, alone, had something to share, and that artistry and that voice has brought us to that stage.
And so I set it to try to capture that feeling, that experience, of standing on an empty stage, looking out at an empty theater house. Many people (cast, crew, musicians) will stand on a stage a take a quick photo, an instagram, post it to Facebook and say “I am here!” But I wanted my photos to say more than that, to serve not just as a reminder, not just a pin on a map, but as a match that rekindles that flame we feel when looking out at a sea of possibility. I wanted my photos to capture the detail, the color, and the feeling of each individual theater house, the full, wide-angle experience.
And so I set to to find a way to do that, to capture the full experience in a single image. I developed my process (link) that I have found works for me, as it captures every angle, the whole shabang, and presents it in one awesome image….pow!
But the most rewarding part of creating these images is showing it to friends and colleagues, fellow performers or theater artists who, too, have stood on those stages and looked out and felt that same sense of wonder mixed dipped in pride. And their reactions of “oh wow, I remember that theater….so-and-so worked with me and such-and-such happened” is a reminder and a testament that images carry much more than pixels, that stories and memories sometimes only need that little trigger, and that the old adage that pictures are worth a thousand words is only half true, because sometimes they’re worth a thousand memories too.