Since moving to Boston, I've had the great pleasure of working with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company as an actor, fight director, photographer, and even IT consultant. Last Tuesday night, I grabbed my cameras and lenses and set about creating an elaborately choreographed fight sequence for the final battle of King Lear in which Edmund is stabbed through the chest with a tripod. Nah, just kidding. I grabbed my cameras and lenses and photographed a really great reading!
Every year CSC hosts an event called "Shakespeare and Leadership," during which excellent actors and businessmen/women come together and present a reading of one of Shakespeare's plays (usually the play that will be performed on Boston Common in the summer) as well as a discussion about how the play, characters, plot, and themes relate to modern-day leadership theories and practices.
This year, Will Lyman, who will be playing Lear this summer on the Common, led a cast of a dozen Massachusetts-area businessmen and women, mostly CEOs or founder/owners of large companies, (as well as one other "real" actor, the always-amazing Fred Sullivan Jr. as The Fool), in a one-hour version of King Lear. The reading was wonderful- the "Leaders" did a great job of keeping up with the two actors, who helped guide the cast and shaped the highly-cut down text into what ended up being a very entertaining hour. Will was phenomenal as Lear, and his lines from Act III, Scene IV rang especially poignantly in a room full of powerful men and women:
Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta'en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp.
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just.
Rather than look at this passage as an indictment of the 1%, Steve Maler (as director) brought forth the idea that a good leader understands what his constituency experiences, and tries to provide the best governance and makes decisions based on the needs of his or her people. Though it may be too late for Lear at this point in his life, Shakespeare, as usual, manages to give insight to a universal truth that still stands four hundred years later.
After the reading, there was a moderated question-and-answer session, which was fascinating- all of the leaders onstage expressed varied opinions on a wide range of questions stemming from ideas presented in the play- questions of succession in the business world, or the problem of self-expression as a subordinate when that self-expression may be contrary to the ideas of one's superior (see Cordelia's struggle with her honest answer about how much she loves her father when asked in the beginning of the play!). In all, it was a great evening, and one that I would have enjoyed even if I were not having a great time taking photos! (Also, it was FREE(!), so y'all have no excuse not to go next year!)
From a photography standpoint, I was SO HAPPY to finally be shooting with arguably the best kit possible. It has taken a couple of years and the cost of a brand new base model car, but I have a real, professional pile of glass and sensors that can't really be beat. Unless I went medium format or dropped $6,000 on a 200mm f/2 (don't tempt me) I'm shooting with the top of Canon's tech. So it was a joy to use high ISO settings that the 5D III handles with ease, the quick and very reactive AF of the same, and the ability to drop said ISO to 200 with the 85mm f/1.2 or the 24mm 1.4. When I needed to turn the camera on the less-well-lit audience, a shot that would have been impossible with lesser gear:
turned out great thanks to the 85mm 1.2 @ 1.2, 1/125, ISO 3200. It is so awesome to not feel limited by one's equipment, to know that my skill alone (which can always be improved) is now the only thing between me and a great shot. Even in the reception after the event (super high black ceilings, black curtains on 3 walls, a mirror on the other, and strange, colored light) I was able to get usable photos with high ISO and little bit of fill flash. Technology is wonderful, and so is Shakespeare, and so are all the folks at Babson and CSC. Thanks for having me shoot!