Russian Theatre in Performance

Photographs by Ken Reynolds

14 November 2012 - 7 January 2013

Ken Reynolds has been living in Edinburgh since 1967. He has pursued an avid interest in photography since 1978. His first major photographic exhibition, a series of colour abstractions entitled ‘Secret Landscapes’, opened in 1991 at the Aberdeen City Art Gallery and subsequently, as a British Council Exhibition, toured 14 cities in Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland. In the same period Ken was occasionally photographing musicians in performance in black and white.

When the walls between a divided Europe came tumbling down, the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe and the City of Glasgow immediately became gateways for an extraordinary influx of theatre from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania and Eastern Europe. Ken followed these performances keenly, as yet with no idea of photographing them. However, the groundwork had been laid and when he witnessed Lev Dodin’s Gaudeamus performed by Maly Drama Theatre of St. Petersburg in the Tramway, Glasgow in 1992, he suddenly experienced an imperative desire to photograph it, despite never having photographed a play before. So the story began and it continues until today, some 250 performances later – the latest being productions shown at the Golden Mask in Moscow, The Globe in London, The Gdansk Shakespeare Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival through the spring and summer of this year.

The pictures in this exhibition are drawn from complete rehearsals and actual performances, never from photo calls; invariably taken from just one position, using very fast black and white film, and never using flash. Every image is full frame. The objective is to capture the essence, tension, and movement of the production and the individuality of the director’s conception; to create images that have the possibility to intrigue, question, and stimulate the imagination without the viewer necessarily having seen the production. In the display are moments from key performances directed by Lev Dodin, Valery Fokin, Kama Ginkas, Henrietta Yanovskaya and other Russian directors. They also represent the adventures of one Englishman at home and abroad, whenever set free from his everyday employment!