Hamletmachine

I have managed to obtain a position as an unpaid Stills Photographer on a movie to be shot in London in January 2020.  The subject is one that is of great personal interest to me; the men and woman who live on our streets with their companion dogs and the benefits that are gained from this relationship.

To equip me with some rudimentary skills to fulfil the role of Stills Photographer I am in contact with several organisations to gain work experience or shadowing opportunities. I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to photograph the dress rehearsal of a performance at the Volcano Theatre in Swansea High Street.

The performance is an English translation by Marc von Henning (Faber & Faber 1995) of Heiner Muller’s Hamletmachine, which Müller describes as “My main interest when I write plays is to destroy things. For thirty years Hamlet was for me an obsession, so I wrote a short text, ‘Hamletmachine’, with which I tried to destroy Hamlet. […] I think my strongest impulse is to reduce things down to their skeleton, to tear off their skin and their flesh. Then I’m finished with them.”

HEINER MÜLLER

Volcano Theatre describes the performance as ‘Heiner Müller’s infamous reworking of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, framing the domestic tragedy of Hamlet within the political machinations of Europe at twilight.

Volcano’s HAMLETMACHINE is no ordinary performance. Exploiting to the full the company’s cavernous home in a former High Street supermarket, we invite you on an astonishing journey from a museum of grim curiosities to a garden of delights; through corridors of power and pleasure to dungeons of detritus. Mixing live performance and bizarre exhibition with interactive and sensory elements, HAMLETMACHINE is a surprising, funny and disturbingly beautiful experience for audiences.’

Volcano’s creative director, Paul Davies says of the performance, “Our first task was to demolish what had previously been built. On occasion this process of demolition was done carefully. At other times the play or the text crashed to the floor in a reckless fashion – there were casualties, and a lot of cleaning up to be done.”

It was my objective as a photographer to capture the intensity, drama and energy of the four performers and to create an atmosphere of enquiry; “What’s that all about?” I had been visiting the theatre for a few weeks from the early readings and photographing set builder Bourdon Brindille as he interpreted his design brief and created the amazing wallpaper.

During my day of photo-documenting the dress rehearsal I was in a whirlwind of activity, not knowing what to photograph, where the action was and where to aim my lens next. Armed with two camera bodies equipped with a short zoom and a telephoto prime I tried to anticipate this fast-paced and intriguing play and to convey a sense of the professionalism and intensity of the actors.

I am so grateful to Volcano Theatre for permitting me access to all the back-stage machinations of a dress rehearsal. I learnt so much about fast-paced camerawork and I have gained another skill in my armoury of photographic proficiency. Thank you.

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