Archive for March, 2010


Friday, March 19th, 2010

In the second of a series of guest posts from the Arms and the Man company professional Set Designer Ana Cappelluto shares her inspiration for the Arms and the Man set design:

In the summer of 2009, when I was finally getting down to reading Arms and the Man, the BBC news announced that that a researcher had discovered a joke written by George Bernard Shaw in honour of the opening in 1930 of the Hall at William Morris House in Wimbledon. The joke was found written in Shaw’s hand on a photograph of himself, and read as follows: “William Morris and I preached the gospel of Labour together on many occasions. Many respectable persons thought we deserved hanging. I am proud to hang in a hall dedicated to him.” As a joke it was a little disappointing, but it did trigger a thought which led to research that incorporated photography, William Morris’s idiosyncratic textile designs and socialism. Because many of the characters in Arms and the Man are posers, I decided that I wanted to play with the posed photo. I began by immersing myself in the extensive slide collection at Concordia University. Like all research, it’s the serendipitous find that often makes the searching most exciting. In the collection, I found original slides from the Notman Studio in Montreal.

William Notman was a photographer in the 1800s who became famous for his group portraits of athletic clubs, social gatherings, and prominent families. These composite photographs were created by photographing each subject individually in the studio, with a posing stand at the head to prevent movement. The negative was developed and then printed on photographic paper. The subject was then carefully cut out; the edges were feathered, and placed on a canvas. After fixing, washing, and drying, the canvas was attached to a wooden stretcher, coloured in oil by artists, and then rephotographed to make the composite appear seamless. Early Photoshop mixed in with scene painting: I was inspired. And more so when I read the description of a large-scale reproduction of a fancy dress skating party planned in honour of Prince Arthur. Notman declared his intention to make a record of the event, and invited those who planned to attend to bring their costumes and skates to his studio for a composite photograph:

One hundred and fifty people came in answer to the advertisement to don their brightly coloured costumes representing various themes and epochs. They included Scottish couples in Highland costume, Elizabethan ladies and courtiers, several soldiers and sailors, a voyageur, a pilgrim father, “Diana”, goddess of the hunt, with bow and arrows, a scattering of young women in peasant costumes, a woman dressed as Night, another as the morning star, a man arrayed as a counter bass, another as a giant head and an “Indian” who appears to be aiming his arrow at a woman smoking a cigar.

In Arms and the Man, the characters that inhabit the “house” have more money than sense, and spend much of their time posing and romanticizing the war. I began to cut and paste, as needed, elements for my own composite photo. And so what began with a joke at the back of a photograph, ended up as a photographer’s backdrop for the actors.

Ana Cappelluto
Scenic Design

Works Cited
Triggs, Stanley G. “The Composite Photographs.” McCord Museum, 2005. Wed. March 10, 2010.

Note: See more set design renderings on our show site!


Thursday, March 4th, 2010

In the first of a series of guest posts from the Arms and the Man company, second year BFA Acting Candidate Ryan Warden weighs in on the question “Is theatre dead?”:

Depending on what circles you’re in the answer will invariably vary. If you’re reading this your answer is probably “no”, but for the vast majority of the population, theatre is just a class they took in high school.

Even many in the theatre community are heralding the death of theatre due to the recent cuts in arts spending. Despite the recent resurgence in arts and culture awareness during the Olympic games, it doesn’t look like things are going to get any better. In fact, yesterday’s budget lockup at the BC Legislature revealed that arts spending will continue to drop to record lows.

High octane rehearsals for our upcoming production of Arms and the Man reveal signs of life.

High octane warm ups in rehearsal for our upcoming production of Arms and the Man reveal definite signs of life. Photo Credit: R Warden

So, for those of us who are investing years of our lives in theatre school, not to mention the years after paying off student loans, it begs the question, “Are you nuts?” Well the simple answer is “yes” and to be honest it’s a question I ask myself far too frequently.

However, all I have to do is look over the past couple years that I’ve been in UBC’s BFA Acting program and it’s plain to see that it would be nuts NOT to do this. It’s way too much fun! And I’ve achieved an awareness of myself and those around me in a way I never thought possible. I’ve managed to break out of my skull and inhabit my body as a whole, fully-functioning person, which is quite a feat in today’s world.

As social interactions and relationships become increasingly web-based, theatre is one of the last strongholds of good old fashioned human connection in its truest form. So those of us here in the Alamo might be committing suicide, but we’ll fight to the death nonetheless.

~ Ryan Warden

Bio: Ryan Warden’s production credits include UBC’s Mother Courage, The Rez Sisters, and A Dybbuk as well as lighting operator for Werewolves (Pi Theatre). Acting credits include The Collector and Weeding the Flowers (Brave New Play Rites), The Dining Room (Director Sarah Rogers) and The Laramie Project (Director Nicola Cavendish). His most recent work was in Romeo & Juliet for Theatre at UBC. He is most proud of his role in David Savoy’s Diary of a Madman, which was chosen for admission to Setkani/Encounter International Theatre Festival in Bruno, Czech Republic.

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