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From Emma – Musings of an Incurable Shutter Bug

February 15, 2012

Stage managing and note taking. Photo from The Whitman Piece, copyright H. Scott Heist.

I have this thing about keeping records. Making notes, making lists. Taking photos, audio, and video recording.

Oftentimes, this falls into the category of just doing stage manager things– general operating procedure when I’m stage managing is write down as much as physically possible, because you don’t know what you might end up needing to remember. Between props, costume, set, lights, sound, notes for the cast, notes for the company, notes for the public (not to mention my rabid quote-keeping habit), there’s a lot that feels safer when committed to paper, post-it, or Microsoft Word. I remember better when I write it down.

Because of this tendency, I also find myself as the self-designated note-taker in meetings. When we gather as a Touchstone Ensemble, Cast, or Company. I instinctively write down my own notes, things I need to remember for myself, and keeping notes for the group is a natural extension of that. It’s still in the realm of fairly practical things.

But then I start making excuses to do more of this kind of work– using my laptop to video or audio record sections of a rehearsal or devising session, ostensibly so that we have a record of what we’ve worked on (but actually because selfishly, I just want to hold onto a piece of it for myself), or taking photos for promotional material (again, so that I can protectively store it on my computer), or making other recordings without even having a real use for them in mind.

Photos, especially.

And don't even get me started on my addiction to Photoshop. Photo from Fresh Voices 2010.

I’m so addicted to rehearsal photos. I’m one of those dreadful, obsessive shutter bugs in many aspects of life, but I’m particularly bad about too many photos of rehearsals and shows.

From the stage at my dear old Alma Mater. Photo from Metamorphoses, taken by Sarah Dugan.

My poor hard drive is over-burdened with photos from theatre I’ve done over the last ten years (mostly taken by me, but with scores taken by Scott Heist, Christopher Shorr, Angelica O’Boyle, Thom Hogan, and other friends with artful eyes and nice cameras). More often than not, I can’t bring myself to delete any, even the slightly fuzzy ones. Yes, I’ll say, this photo is kind of blurry and not quite centered, but… I might still want it for something! Eventually!

No, wait, the hands don't match, and the stupid drum is in the background, and-- oh, it's probably fine. Photo from Fresh Voices 2009.

I know I’m not alone on this; in the age of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and dozens of sites like them, think of the millions who love typing up and sharing every detail of what happens in a given day, or hour, or minute. Who doesn’t love the opportunity to take photos and videos, share the view of the world from behind their camera?

And some days, four people come to class wearing matching shirts, and you just need to document that. From Lecoq/movement class 2011.

For me, though, I think that all of this– the writing down rehearsal notes, meeting notes, perverse quotes from backstage, scrambling for my camera as a perfect image emerges in rehearsal– is about trying to capture these fleeting moments of inspiration, eloquence, hilarity, or beauty.

(And in theatre, it really is fleeting– a live show changes in a hundred tiny ways every night, more than a mere photo can ever identify.)

It’s about trying to capture the essence of these moments and finding away to store them, to honor and enjoy and remember for the rest of time, whether through a rectangle of pixels in the “My Pictures” folder or a semi-legible scribble on  semi-secure post-it note. Surely, somehow, I tell myself, there must be a means of making these moments– onstage, in the rehearsal room, or anywhere else– last.

(A completely impossible task, naturally, but I can’t make myself stop trying.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kim permalink
    February 15, 2012 2:29 pm

    Love it! Emma keep being Emma you’re doing a fabulous job.

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