I recently returned to the theatre for the first time since the lights went down on Broadway due to the pandemic. We went to see Tina: The Tina Turner Musical on Broadway and it was an electrifying show. Adrianne Warren embodied Tina Turner’s extraordinary life through a fabulous blend of music, humor, and triumph as the show ended with an eruption of applause after almost three hours of singing along to beloved songs. This musical had exceptional high energy and reawakened my enthusiasm for live performances. Part of what I missed so deeply about the theatre was the collective adventure that one has as an audience member. Once we settle into our seats, we are all riding the same wave of thought and excitement as the storyline unfolds.
The inspired rush of emotions is such a visceral experience after a live performance. I always leave the theatre feeling as if I have just been a part of something bigger than myself, which is why I have been such an advocate for others to witness the performing arts. Traveling to New York to see a show isn’t available to everyone, but there are plenty of local theatres that showcase incredible talent and stories in their productions. Local theatres are not only more accessible but after these challenging few years, they need community support.
In my book, Before The Curtain Goes Up, I highlight several small-town theatres along the East Coast where I had the privilege of photographing their cast and crew behind the scenes. The book is written for theatre enthusiasts, but also to bring attention to the importance of small-town theatres and how they contribute to the environment that they are established within. As we live in a world full of screens and instant gratification, to physically go to a show and watch something performed live, is a beautiful and important experience that should be celebrated!
When I began this project, I decided early on that the focal point of the book was for it to be a photographic journey. The written language was important for context, but I wanted to highlight the natural moments that happen before performers took to the stage. While the actors are preparing for what is to come, photography is my way of capturing these nuances that are often quiet and contemplative. My hope is that the audience can share in my fascination for prep work and get a sense of what life is like behind the curtain. To experience the intimacy and camaraderie between the actors, with glimpses of how much effort goes into the rehearsals, and how makeup and costumes can transform people into characters.
My intention was to celebrate and encourage readers to continue enriching the traditions embodied by local theatres. Actors, directors, and stagehands are the only moving parts that contribute their time and energy to create something magical for the audience. In some community theatres, the roles and jobs of the cast interchange with each performance’s needs, which emphasizes the dedication and flexibility that go hand in hand with acting. Everyone who chooses to be a part of a theatre chooses to be a part of a collective family.
This book came from a passionate place within me. I have been involved in acting and the theatre throughout my life and I wanted to give back to the small-town theatres that for some, are where one may catch the theatre bug. I have hope that my book will spark something within like-minded individuals that can relate to this passion. As we transition into getting back into the world instead of searching for distractions at home, I hope my book will regenerate the importance of being a part of your local network. It might be idealistic, but it would be amazing to witness the newly inspired support of locals in their community to rediscover theatre and have fun while doing it.
Thanks for reading,
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