CLC photo exhibit honors actors at Brainerd Community Theater



The featured actors have appeared in 19 different productions staged by Brainerd Community Theater over the past five years, according to director Patrick Spradlin, who spoke to Erickson about the Retired Lawyer Project.

“Retrospective I” is a photo exhibition by John Erickson outside the John Chalberg Theater on the Brainerd Campus of Central Lakes College. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

“This is by no means an exhaustive chronicle of all of the productions that we have directed or of all of the actors who have appeared in the plays,” Spradlin said in a press release. “But it’s a fascinating look at a veritable army of actors who have made theater a reality at BCT.”

Another aspect of the photo exhibit is the opportunity for viewers to recall past BCT productions, according to Spradlin.

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Erickson has attended readings, rehearsals, dress rehearsals and performances of nearly every BCT production over the past five years. Spradlin and Erickson decided which photos were posted on the lobby walls of the BCT Theater for public viewing.

“Each show has its own exhibit,” Spradlin said. “John also takes our publicity photos and our actor portraits for the posters. “


Nick Kory takes on title role in Brainerd Community Theater production of "Young Frankenstein" in this photo of John Erickson in the Erickson photo exhibition "Retrospective I" exhibited on the Brainerd campus of Central Lakes College.  Contribution / John Erickson, Art Matters Studio and Gallery

Nick Kory takes on the title role in Brainerd Community Theater’s production of “Young Frankenstein” in this photo of John Erickson in the Erickson photo exhibit “Retrospective I” on the Brainerd Campus of Central Lakes College. Contribution / John Erickson, Art Matters Studio and Gallery

It was by reviewing some of the previous photos that were posted that Spradlin and Erickson came up with the idea for the photo exhibit, as they saw so much potential in bringing together the “best of the best” and bringing them into the picture show. a stand-alone exhibition.

“We wanted to pay special tribute to these remarkable people who bring such passion to the theater. They deserve it, ”Spradlin said in the press release.

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The actors featured in “Retrospective I” come from across the immediate region: Brainerd and Baxter, Little Falls, Pequot Lakes, Nisswa, East Gull Lake, Staples, Motley, Emily, Crosby and Deerwood.

Erickson detailed what he saw as the appeal of this exhibition not only to the actors but also to the general public.


A student walks past a photo exhibit by John Erickson, who takes publicity photos for the Brainerd Community Theater and actor portraits for the posters.  Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

A student walks past a photo exhibit by John Erickson, who takes publicity photos for the Brainerd Community Theater and actor portraits for the posters. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

“These images are what we hope are the ‘best of the best’, the end of a long line of edits, the survivors of the editing room, which we hope will evoke the viewer’s wonder in the skills of these actors producing their art and its cultural and aesthetic effects on us, their audience, just as actors have done for thousands of years, ”Erickson said in the press release.

Spradlin recently spoke with Erickson about the project and the photographer’s vision and approach to photographing actors in the midst of their creative process.

Spradline: You’ve taken photos of sporting events, you’ve photographed landscapes and still lifes. What is your approach to photographing the actors?

Ericson: Much depends on the actor and the actor’s experience, including the experience of being photographed, whether in rehearsal or performance. You have to be more careful to be less intrusive when less experienced actors are involved, but generally speaking, regardless of the actor, it’s important that I and the camera facing the stage are somewhat familiar with the scene. actor so that I become more in the background than an obvious presence.

Spradline: What about your current photographic technique?

Ericson: Although I change my lens occasionally, I prefer to use a telephoto lens for everything except formal portraits, or very elaborate posed images, or images, for example, of a “costume show” where the actor is so engaged with the client that everything else, like the presence of a photographer, is lost on the actor. The telephoto lens helps me disappear in the dark. And I never use flash.

Spradline: What challenges do you face when photographing actors in their element?

Ericson: It varies with the stage of the production, there is a lot more freedom of movement for me vis-à-vis the actors, earlier in the life of a production. I shouldn’t be photographing a play performed in front of a live audience. You don’t have to get up and click on a camera, even from a distance. The second best thing is the dress rehearsals, and in order to photograph them well, it is best that I have an idea of ​​the piece and the way it is performed in order to anticipate critical moments and position myself in such a way. creative to find that in my “brush”, the camera, from a creative and useful point of view. Timing, it is rightly said, is everything. Lighting is so important. Hard white lights, which are so useful for a photographer, are not favored by actors or directors.

Spradline: Many of the photos in the exhibit, perhaps the majority of them, appear to have a lot of shadow, darkness, negative space. Is that part of your approach, or is something just happening?

Ericson: The absence of light is also very important, on stage as elsewhere. The absence of light is something that I cherish. As long as there is some light, somewhere, the shadow – and the “shades” of shadow – is my friend. We live in less than bright light much of our life and, like our emotions, our lives are between light and dark literally and figuratively. The shadow, the absence of light, so often serves to emphasize what is in the light and in the emotions of the room.

“Retrospective I” is posted until December 1 during college opening hours. The exhibition is free and open to the public. (Those in college facilities are required to wear face coverings.)

The pieces represented in the photo exhibition are:

  • “All my sons.”

  • “Art.”

  • “Bill W. and Dr. Bob. “

  • “Boeing Boeing.”

  • “Ladies in the basement of the church. “

  • “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). “

  • “The elephant man.”

  • “A few good men.”

  • “Five women wearing the same dress.”

  • “Mum Mia! “

  • “The strange couple.”

  • “Rumors.”

  • “Scottish route”.

  • “Ch-Boom! (Life could be a dream!)

  • “Talk with.”

  • “The woman in black.”

  • “Xanadu.”

  • “Young Frankenstein. “


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