Chelsee J. On a magical apparatus. Part of her performance is assisting with
Ray Anderson's magic.....
I love photographing theater. Especially good, funny, topical theater. Like the kind I find at Esther's Follies, on Sixth St. in Austin, Texas. I've been photographing for Esther's Follies for a couple of decades and a recent book published about the incredibly talented troupe is filled with my photographs from over the years. https://www.esthersfollies.com
The cast at Esther's Follies does hilarious political satire and comedy (nailing both sides of the aisle) and, for as long as I've been going there a big draw is an irreverent but wonderful magic act by renowned magician (seriously: internationally famous!) Ray Anderson.
When he does his feats of magic he calls on the services of one of the glamorous cast members to serve as his assistant. Chelsee J. is his able assistant these days. She gets chopped in half, defies gravity, is levitated out of a pool and much more. Since she's a recent recruit I got to make some images of her (Above and Below) along with our regular show documentation. .
Photo assignments at Esther's are the antithesis of many Zach Theatre shoots. At Zach I mainly shoot in a documentary style during a technical or dress rehearsal (or both). I don't do any lighting and we don't set up shots at the rehearsals (we might do set ups in a separate session....). At Esther's I drop by and set up three or four lights (generally electronic flash mono-lights into generous umbrellas) and we run through fun set-up shots that showcase the current skits, gags, magic, and ample song & dance.
We give the flashes a real, old fashioned workout; sometimes shooting six or seven hundred shots during an afternoon session.
Last week I photographed everything with one Lumix S1 camera and the 24-105mm f4.0 Lumix S lens. The combination worked perfectly and the AF never missed a shot.
I love going back and forth between the theaters. Keeps me from getting rusty, or too complacent with one style or the other. If you come to Austin you owe it to yourself to catch a show at Esther's Follies. Soft-brained liberal or cold-hearted, cruel conservative? Doesn't matter = you'll leave with a big smile on your face, certain that the other side got it worse....