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Student Blog: I Am Not Throwing Away my [Production] Shot

An exploration of the actor’s relationship with production photos.

Student Blog: I Am Not Throwing Away my [Production] Shot

I was walking around the Boston College campus the other day heading to work at the costume shop of my Theatre Department. I walked by the front of the Robsham Theater Arts Center and, as every Boston College student does, I checked myself out in the reflection of the floor-to-ceiling windows. They are the perfect windows for making sure that your outfit is on point and your hair is looking flawless. In alternating windows across the whole front of the theater are banners of production photos from different arts performances that occurred in the building during the previous year. Every time I see these photos in the window, two thoughts come to mind. The first is "Why have I STILL not made it onto a Robsham banner?" The first thing I do each year when I arrive on campus is go over to Robsham and check out the new banners. It is always so exciting to see which of my friends makes it up there. The second thought that I have is "production photos can be so strange."

Don't get me wrong, one of my favorite parts about doing theatre is getting to see the production photos. I love getting to look back and see how much fun I had performing with my best friends. I still look back on some of my old production photos and it brings back such fond memories. However, there is an indisputable unnatural element about them. Perhaps it is just because I am so used to performing in and watching live theatre, where it is frowned upon to be on your phone or take pictures during a show. It is meant to be experienced in a moment when everybody in the room is fully present and transported to the world of the play. When a camera is thrown into the mix, it is a much different experience from what I am used to.

Student Blog: I Am Not Throwing Away my [Production] Shot
Production Shot
from "Noises Off"
(Lee Pellegrini 2019)

Whenever a camera is in front of me taking pictures of my performance, I can't help but linger on a pose that I just KNOW will make an amazing photo. Even during rehearsals when we are blocking a scene, I occasionally think to myself "this would make for a great picture." Perhaps this is all just rooted in my deep desire to make it onto one of the banners in Robsham. If I have a picture of me taken where I am really bringing the drama or I look like I am having the time of my life, then it should be a sure thing for me to make it onto a banner. I always have this in the back of my mind when the night for taking production photos comes around.

No matter how odd production photos may feel in the moment that they are being taken, I am so grateful for them. It is so cool that we get to have something to capture our favorite shows that we can look back on. Production photos also make it possible to share a bit of our shows on social media. They allow our performances to reach further than just the audience members who bought tickets. I always get so excited when production photos for Broadway shows come out and I get to look through them and see a glimpse of a show that I otherwise my not have ever been able to see. We are so lucky to be living in a time where we can hold onto these memories of our theatre experiences in a physical way.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Kyle Ronkin