The facility at 701 N. Pennsylvania St. has hosted some small music performances and at least one wedding since last fall, but I'm not sure how it pulled off the latter. It's clearly needing extensive work still. But, for the purposes of hosting a small theater production, when the lights are relatively low and all eyes are on center stage, I could see how that and perhaps similar activities could work there in the short term.
The dress rehearsal shoot was difficult; the stage lighting to be used for opening night was not set up yet, so they used regular room lighting, a terribly low tungsten variety. With the consent and encouragement of the play's director, Joe Cook, who was sympathetic about the inferior lighting situation, I started the shoot using flash (which you'll see at the gallery) but felt early on that the strobe was distracting the actors; I noticed several of them were starting to squint or even close their eyes before I pulled off shots. So I turned off the flash and shot available light the rest of the way, pushing ISO settings to the 4000 to 5000 range on my Canon 7D.
I abandoned my f/2.8 lenses and experimented with my Sigma 85mm f/1.4 and Canon "nifty-fifty," the 50mm f/1.8. The 85mm prime turned out to be too much reach, factoring in the 1.6 multiplier on the 7D; I shot the majority of the images with the 50mm, which enabled me to get close when I needed to. Unfortunately, using such wide apertures -- usually wide open or 2.2 -- left me little margin for error with the depth of field, and my body of work shows it: lots of missed or soft-focus shots. Compounding things was that there also were lots of closed eyes, especially in shots involving one of the lead actors (and I don't think these were blinks -- far too many of them to write off as blinks). So either this actor was struggling to recall lines, or worried I'd blast him with the flash. So I felt terrible about that, and because even when I shut off the flash, I had to do my "zooming" with my feet, so I still felt I was a distraction to the performers.
GPS will return "Shrew" to its spring home -- the Garfield Park Arts Center in Garfield Park -- for five total shows over the next two weekends, 7 p.m. March 9 & 10 and 16 & 17 and a special 2 p.m. matinee on March 18. The company's 2012 season will conclude in September with "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts, also in Garfield Park.
These images were taken at a dress rehearsal at the Sanctuary on Penn on Thursday, the night before opening night. A full gallery of images from this shoot are available at my online site at SmugMug.com.