Beyond the Stage
A Photography Exhibition by Ken Abbott
For the last two years Ken Abbott has been working with various theatre companies across Bath documenting what the audience never sees. The raw talent, dedication and hard work that goes on behind the scenes. And the project focused not just on the performers but also the truly hidden – the stage hands, the technicians, the make up artists, the costumiers.
From the auditions to rehearsals and the show week itself he shadowed each group – in the rehearsal rooms and dressing rooms, corridors and wings – quietly letting his camera capture the reality of behind the scenes in the modern theatre.
Nothing was staged and nothing was posed.
The productions covered ranged from the traditional musical theatre of West Side Story at the Theatre Royal Bath to more contemporary shows at smaller venues such as Spring Awakening at the Rondo Theatre. And the groups involved ranged from the long established traditional societies right through to new edgier groups.
The Beyond the Stage Photography Exhibition is the culmination of the project and will tell the story of how a production gets to the stage by taking the viewer around the gallery through rehearsals to the ‘get ins’ via dress rehearsals and finally the ‘drama’ that goes on backstage throughout the run.
For anyone interested in the theatre a visit to the exhibition is a must as you will gain a unique insight into the hidden world that is backstage. Equally anyone interested in documentary ‘fly on the wall’ photography will also find the exhibition fascinating.
Ken Abbott is a documentary photographer based in Portishead Somerset.
He has worked for a number of years on project based photography with the aim of showing people as they really are and events as they really happen.
As with so many of the best ideas, the Bath photography project started by accident when his very good friend Huw Morgan asked if Ken could step in at the last minute to photograph the dress rehearsal of The Witches of Eastwick at the Theatre Royal. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Beyond the Stage is the first of what he hopes will be a whole series of exhibitions. His next project will be ‘Bristol People’ when he will photograph people across Bristol with the aim of telling their stories and showing the city as it really is.
As a commercial photographer he uses his documentary style to replace traditional approaches. So for example at a wedding, instead of taking on the traditional photographer’s role he records the day with a candid ‘fly on the wall’ approach.
The Bath Artists’ Studios is the largest provider of studio space in Bath with 54 studios and 62 artists working on site.
The centrepiece is the Roper Gallery where the Beyond the Stage exhibition will take place.
The Studios were founded in 1997 by David Cobley, a painter who still has a Studio there today.
The Studios were originally housed in an old Infants School in Widcombe but moved to their current location at The Old Malthouse in 2003.
Thursday 22nd September 19.30
Friday 23rd September until
Monday 26th September
The Bath Artists Studio
The Old Malthouse
Upper Bristol Road
Bath BA1 3AJ
11:00 to 17:00