When the Elite Theatre Company premieres American Right tonight, it will not be the first time an intricate tale has been presented on an almost bare stage. Good actors use their instruments – voice, grace, gesture, expression – to command the audience’s attention, whether the set is an intricately detailed reproduction of Versailles or two orange crates and a cardboard door.
Photographers hoping to capture drama or comedy on a bare stage face interesting challenges. We capture a fraction of a second and then tell our story in silence. The bare stage means we don’t have to worry about the background getting too busy and distracting the viewer. On the other hand, I’m reminded of something Kinko’s Northwest President Mike Fasth used to tell me: “The cleanest stores can look dirtier than the messy stores, because a single scrap of paper on a clean floor commands your attention.” Likewise, a marred wall or a few misplaced shadows on a bare stage can be very distracting.
Like the actors on that bare stage, we do the best we can with what we’ve got. By the way, these particular actors are great, so go see the show.