The Reality of Theatre

Whilst you can see an empty stage, it is probably unclear that this is a photograph of the Globe Theatre in London (taken in 2007), if you are not familiar with the location. Whilst the fact the front section of the audience are standing provides a clue, as does the fact that the lighting appears to be natural (the Globe is an open air theatre, though there is a ring of thatch above the boxes), there is no label saying “this is the Globe” to provide context. I was there partly as a tourist and if the photograph “gives shape to experience: stop, take a photograph and move on.” (Sontag 10), it provides a record of where I went but fails to note the parts of this trip that were most important to me: the performance we saw (The Merchant of Venice) and my interaction with my friends during the day, which cannot be condensed to one image..

This was a school trip, so taking pictures could be seen as part of the educational nature of the trip, “Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working” (Sontag 10), but it also means I only saw the theatre through a lens, not through my own eyes. Once the play began, obviously my focus was entirely on what was on the stage, which formed the bulk of the trip, but I could not takes photographs of the play mid-performance, so the only record of it is the empty stage and the expectant crowd, which includes none of the teachers and fellow pupils there with me. I could just as easily find a similar picture of the Globe online, so this picture does not seem to serve any purpose other than evidence that I did indeed visit the theatre, despite the fact that the trip had a much greater influence on me than that.

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