My love of theatre is in my blood. As a young child showmanship was encouraged by my parents (mom was professional showgirl in her youth) so I directed extravaganzas in our home basement with the help of family and neighbors. At one point I even staged a street-side Kool-Aid stand with my younger sisters posing as go-go dancers, so hopefully that gives you a sense of the level of ugh… industriousness I had.
Fast forward to landing in SF in 1974 at age 20 and ending up in the sphere of the Cockettes and The Angels of Light theatre groups, the die was cast that I would fulfill my lifelong dream of being a theatre photographer in the Spirit of Max Waldman whose theatre photography had inspired me when I first discovered it. Gilles Larrain’s great book Idols was also very influential.
It seemed no matter what other type of photography I pursued; I would always loop back around to the theatrical in life. Theatre is one of those great ephemeral arts. It still never ceased to amaze me that the people involved with the craft would choose to inhabit these incredibly challenging efforts to share an artistic experience with an audience and then when the curtain falls for the last time on a particular production, the whole thing would just vanish into the ether and memory….
Enter the roll of the documentarian. I had always seen theatre production photography as a way to try to capture that mercurial energy… to try fastening it to memory just a little bit longer through picture making…. This was also a shrewd career move for a latent wanna be actor, (ME - I played Elwood P. Dowd in the play “Harvey” in High school) because you could be in the exiting world of theatre without actually having to stick your neck out and ACT, never mind getting “off book” …and living as boldly and brazenly as actors are required to do….
and OH, the glory of the return of gratitude from fellow actors for making a good picture imbued with the same poignance as a performance… this is the stuff of a goosebumps level high for sure… who wouldn’t want to be part of that when they grow up. I hope to one day to publish a sumptuous book of my theatre photography in tribute our amazing lives well lived.