Fringe TheatreFest 2009

I have been making documentary photographs since my time at College where this was my strongest work. I?m still very attracted to the tradition in it?s pure sense: shooting only under available light, being a witness to what actually happens rather than setting it up or manipulating events, being as ?invisible? as I could be so that my presence didn?t affect what happened, being objective, looking for ?decisive? moments, being open to the unexpected, anticipating what might make the picture and being amazed at what does make it.

The light was so low here that this image was made at 1sec exposure f4.5 and 2000iso

At the end of June, at the same time as Art Trek, Sadie and I photographed the Fringe TheatreFest in Barnstaple. We?d offered to do this as our way of supporting the festival this year (we were stewards in 2008). It became an interesting brief because we were unable to photograph any of the performances. There were no dress rehearsals so documentary was everything but the theatre performances.

It didn?t help that I had picked up teaching work in Tiverton which took me out of the Thursday and Friday daytime slots, and the weekend was spent at Broomhill doing my Art Trek residency.

There were 3 venues, the Baptist Church Hall and the Inn on the Square upstairs and downstairs with 21 different acts most of which did 3 performances. Most also did a ?tech? which involved anything from a full rehearsal with lights and sound to positioning a few lights in a 5 minute slot.

This kind of work though is very rewarding. I remember a restrictive graphics brief on a National Diploma course used to bring out better ideas than an open brief. Restriction brings us freedom, and there where lots of restrictions here both enforced and self imposed: imagine how dark a theatre is, then imagine there are no stage lights set up, then remember these are spaces that have been made into venues within a couple of days and you can start to appreciate how dark it was ? the cameras rarely had an iso slower than 1600, shutter speeds 20th of a second or slower, aperture wide open ? there was also the hike from one venue to the next hoping not to miss anything.

Sadie did a great job on her own when I was unable to be there getting this wonderfull ?Winograndesc? picture of Janice Connolly as Barbara Nice from ?Hiya and Higher?.

All of the photos can be seen on the Fringe TheatreFest Website: