“My college roommate was an owl, and now I’m dating him.”
It’s a twisted take on “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,”, and so begins the New Vintage Ensemble’s latest production, “The Trouble with Sketch Shows,” an original piece written, directed, and performed by members of the Ensemble as part of their 2016 season.
In the hijinks that follow, we meet a self-absorbed newscaster who never actually gets to her program, a school cook, a spelling bee nerd, an Indiana Jones escapade gone wrong, and a truly disgruntled senior citizen, among others.
I was invited to cover one of NVE’s dress rehearsals in order to provide promotional and archival images for the ensemble – it’s pretty cool to get a look at a show before the general public, and I don’t think NVE will have any trouble filling seats for this one.
My favorite part of this whole process is the originality – every skit in the show came from the minds of people I know, people I’ve hung out with, had brunch with, had drinks with, never knowing that this kind of twisted genius was lurking inside. I am hugely impressed by their individual contributions, and by the quality of the New Vintage Ensemble’s original works overall.
“The Trouble with Sketch Shows” opens tonight, with two performances Friday night and one on Saturday at the Scranton Cultural Center.
The New Vintage Ensemble’s production of Hamlet took to the stage this past January and played to full houses for each of its two series of weekend performances. Well-acted, engaging, and visually stunning, the show was everything that the Ensemble had hoped it would be, and was a great kickoff to their year as the artists-in-residence at the Scranton Cultural Center.
NVE was kind enough to invite me to their final dress rehearsal to capture some images directly from the show itself. Dress rehearsals are ideal for this, as there usually isn’t anyone in the audience, and as a photographer I have free reign of the theater and am able to move around at will to best capture the action, all without having to worry about disrupting the experience for paying customers.
So without further ado, here’s a selection of images from the show, highlighting all the depth, moodiness, and tragedy that is Hamlet:
NVE is preparing for the rest of their 2016 season, with a variety of shows spread between June and December. Be sure to check out their website and events pages for more information!
I had the sincere pleasure of shooting this year’s Net Driven Christmas party earlier in December, and wanted to share a few photos from that fantastic evening. This is my second year providing photographic coverage for Net Driven’s party, and I am just thrilled that they invited me back. Throughout the past year I kept hearing about how much fun they were having with the photos from 2014, and that’s about the highest praise a photographer can get!
This year’s party was held at the Colannade in Scranton, an old mansion in the historic Hills Section that’s been restored to glory and now serves as an events space. I can’t overstate what a lovely setting it was, especially done up for the holidays, which included at least three large, ornately decorated Christmas trees. I was able to setup in the blue room, using the fireplace as a backdrop, and with the addition of a little photography lighting magic we had the perfect set.
I think it’s a good tradition, having photos at a Christmas party. It’s a way of recording a company’s history, or including it’s employees, but most of all it’s just plain downright fun! Folks really get into it, and I had a steady stream of smiling models all night long. I shot couples and friends, coworking teams and even whole departments.
And as they did last year, Net Driven provided a supply of props that could be used in the photos, everything from Santa hats and reindeer antlers to oversized sunglasses and silly signs. The props are a big hit, and while I shot a lot of prop-less photos for people who wanted a nice holiday photograph, many of them then opted for a second, fun photo to indulge a moment of silliness.
Of course no party would be complete without some dancing and karaoke at the end! And I made sure to grab a few photos of that as well. Those probably aren’t the shots that will make the company newsletter, but I know that everyone will enjoy them!
I had the distinct pleasure of being asked to photograph the Scranton Fringe Festival’s Thank You party last week. Conor and Liz, the geniuses behind the festival, hosted a special party for the folks who did so much to help support Fringe throughout their first year. Best of all, the Scranton Children’s Library kindly offered their space for the reception; it’s a truly beautiful and magical space that really helped make this celebration extra special.
My main mission that night was to setup a sort of interactive photobooth. The Children’s Library has the ideal setup, with an extensive built-in puppet theater and risers. They were very generous in letting us pull a selection of hand and stick puppets from their (very large!) collection to use as props. With a couple of studio lights setup, we were in business!
These photobooth sessions have become quite popular over the past few years, and I’ve done a few of them for different organizations. What I enjoy most is seeing folks relax their inhibitions and partake in the props – many of them silly – for the sake of making a few fun photos.
This evening also served as the official announcement that the Scranton Fringe Festival will be moving forward for a second year! The details are still to come, but the Festival had such a stellar first year, and garnered a lot of attention both nationally and even internationally, that they are well on track for 2016.
My hat goes off to Scranton Fringe and it’s leadership – building a festival from the ground up is hard to begin with, and all the more so when you factor in all the moving pieces of a performance arts festival. Frings was an unparalleled success in its first year, and they’ve set the bar high – I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the next one!
It’s that time of year again – my favorite season is upon us and, with the changing leaves, shortened days, and falling temperatures, there is no denying that autumn is here. Of course despite all those natural changes, it wouldn’t really be autumn without that annual rite of passage, the Bonfire Festival at the Scranton Iron Furnaces.
I’ve been attending the bonfire since 2012 and, as I think I say each year, it’s one of my favorite events of the year. The Iron Furnaces are such a cool site to begin with, and I am always grateful to see the city and county using them as an events space in general. But the bonfire is the ultimate party there, and in my mind it harkens back to the days when the furnaces were active with their own hellfires burning.
The Bonfire Festival is really a multicultural celebration, with informational displays and an exhibit test on-site to highlight the harvest festival traditions of many cultures. The number seems to grow each year, and this year even included the ancient Egyptians. It’s cool stuff! Then add in theatrical and musical performances, food and drink vendors, and even some fortune tellers, and you can see why it’s a heck of a good time.
But of course the bonfire itself is the centerpiece, and this year in particular the crowd was anxious for the lighting ceremony. It was a cold night, one of the first we’ve had this year, and the temperature was down in the 40s with a just enough of a breeze to cut through your jacket. And as much as that pile of sculpture and timber is a symbol of ancient tradition, it was a symbol of warmth!
I got a prime spot for the lighting and was able to enjoy the fire for several minutes, soaking in the heat, before it crossed the threshold. That’s the funny thing about the bonfire – as much as you want to see it lit and warm up next to it, only minutes later it’s a raging inferno that’s much TOO hot to be near, and the same crowd that was pressing in against the barriers is now hurrying away before their eyebrows singe!
We came, we rejoiced. We ate and drank. We saw friends and reveled. And when we left, we made our usual stop atop the furnaces, so we could look down on the festival and the bonfire itself, already beginning to burn itself out.
So here’s to the harvest season, to the summer passed and to the spring that awaits us on the far side of winter. And here’s to the Bonfire Festival and the fine folks at the county who organize it each year – long may this be a Scranton tradition!
I was once again honored to provide photographic coverage to the annual NEPA BlogCon, now in its fourth year! The regional blogging and social media conference was held at East Stroudsburg University this year, and in my opinion was the best conference yet.
I’ve had a unique perspective on BlogCon, both by being the organization’s official photographer and due to the fact that I live with one of the co-organizers. From it’s humble upstart beginnings, NEPA BlogCon has grown and matured into a powerful, full-featured conference that more than delivers on its promises.
Each year I have to struggle with the presentation photos. Not because there’s anything wrong – quite the opposite! I struggle because I’m supposed to be there in a professional capacity, documenting the event and the speakers, but I all too often find myself drawn into the presentations and my attention wanders. Next thing I know, instead of shooting photos I’m taking notes.
BlogCon has managed to strike the perfect balance when it comes to their sessions and presenters. The majority of the presenters are local folks: entrepreneurs, marketing directors, and small-business representatives. There isn’t a lot of big corporate glitz or glamour; these are run-of-the-mill, hardworking people who are successful at what they do, which makes it very easy for us, as an audience, to relate to them. After all, if they were able to do it, we probably can too, which is an empowering thought.
Which isn’t to say that the speakers are small-time; BlogCon has a history of getting some big deal, big time presenters. This year alone featured NAME, founder of the What the Fork food truck, a local small business that won second place in a national food truck competition and has since grown to include multiple trucks and a restaurant.
And of course the keynote speaker was none other than Ash Ambirge, famous for her site “The Middle Finger Project.” I am not the least bit ashamed to admit that for a good part of Ms Ambridge’s presentation, I put the camera down and just soaked in what she had to say. She is a hell of a compelling presenter and had a great message, and when she was done I felt truly inspired.
That kind of presentation is priceless.
Of course NEPA BlogCon is more than just presentations – it’s an expo hall and vendors, it’s networking and introductions, it’s collaboration and creativity. And I try to make sure that I capture a bit of all of that. With such a talented, open and giving group, my job is a lot easier.
Scranton kicked off July with it’s monthly First Friday arts celebration, downtown businesses opening their doors to host local artists and art-admirers through the evening. This month’s timing blended the annual Independence Day festivities into the mix, which made for a fantastic event.
I spent the first hour or so at The Leonard, where the New Vintage Ensemble had scheduled two performances of “Color so Real,” a play written by local playwright and ensemble member Sara Regan, performed by ensemble members Kimmie Leff and Casey Thomas, and directed by Mandy Boyle, my lovely fiancee.Read More...
Another of my favorite weekends of the summer has come and gone, that trademark of June where the Historic Scranton Iron Furnaces are once more shimmering in the heat of molten metal. It’s Arts on Fire, a celebration of Scranton’s heritage and vibrant local arts culture.
The highlight of the event is always the live iron pouring demonstrations, which go for several hours each afternoon (and the night before during an incredible night-pour), courtesy of the Keystone College ironworks team.
Looking back a month or so, to when the leaves were just starting to come out, and Mandy and Amanda made their annual trek through the Dirty Girl Mud Run.
For those who may not be familiar, the DGMR is a 5k race that supports cancer research. Unlike most 5ks, however, this one is for women-only, and takes place around a mountainside track filled with both obstacles and, of course, lots and lots of mud.Read More...
Last week was the June First Friday here in downtown Scranton, and Mandy and I went down for a bit of a date night. Burgers, stops in a couple of venues, and then Mandy joined the Vintage Theater Ensemble for play the role of a living mannequin in the window of the vintage pop-up shop on Adams Ave.
The pop-up shop has done this once or twice before and it’s always a been a big hit. Last month it rained and I wasn’t able to go down to see, so I wanted to make a point to check it out this time around, cameras in-hand.Read More...