To Hold a Mirror
The theatre exists in, and creates, a heightened reality where people go to escape. To Hold a Mirror is a photography project that explores the sense of community and identity within theatre students, both actors and designers, and the work that goes into a show that is rarely visible to the majority of theatre-goers. The in-between and sometimes mundane moments that make up the majority of the students’ experiences are more revealing of the subculture than the performances. The sense of community forged among them becomes like a found family, one strengthened by their interactions with the space and with each other.
Although the individuals themselves are diverse in their personalities and interests beyond the theatre, the amount of time and energy that they pour into their work can allow it to become an all-consuming identifier. The majority of their time is spent together, even when not working. Friendships and relationships are made and strengthened. A bond to this degree is fostered by the specific situation.
The subjects’ identities are informed, in part, through the setting. At times, it engulfs the figures. The sometimes dramatic lighting and other oddities characterize the environment, setting it apart from the everyday. The space itself becomes a character within the community. It reflects the passage of time. Props and costumes are added or modified and areas get remodeled as new students join and seniors graduate.
The frame in photography and the stage in theatre serve analogous roles — they selectively present the action and concentrate the audience’s attention. Both actively construct images, even as they convince viewers otherwise. I frame the pictures so as to draw attention to the ways in which the subjects perform both on stage and off. In this sense, I am both an insider documenting this theatre community, and an outsider watching with a camera as a mediator. Through their gaze, the subjects recognize my dual position.