CLC Photo Exhibit Honors Brainerd Community Theater Actors – Brainerd Dispatch

The spotlight is again on over 45 local actors in “Retrospective I,” a photo exhibit by John Erickson on display in the lobby of the John Chalberg Theater on the Brainerd Campus of Central Lakes College.

The star 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 exhibit 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 every production we have staged or every actor who has appeared in plays,” Spradlin said in a press release. “But it’s a fascinating look at a veritable army of actors who have done theater at BCT.”

Another aspect of the photo exhibit is an opportunity for viewers to reminisce about 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 would be displayed on the lobby walls of the BCT Theater for the public to see.

“Each show has its own exhibit,” Spradlin said. “John also shoots our publicity photos and our cast portraits for the programs.”


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

It was by looking at some of the past photos that were on display that Spradlin and Erickson came up with the idea for the photo exhibit because they saw so much potential in bringing together the “best of the best” and integrating them in a stand-alone exhibition.

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

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Actors featured in “Retrospective I” hail from all over the immediate area: 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 for actors but also for general audiences.


A student walks past a photo exhibit of John Erickson, who shoots Brainerd Community Theater publicity photos and actor portraits for programs. Frank Lee/Brainerd Dispatch

“These images are what we hope will be the ‘best of the best’, the end of a long series 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 photographer’s project and vision and his approach to photographing actors at the very moment of their creative process.

Spradlin: You have taken photos of sporting events, you have photographed landscapes and still lifes. What is your approach to photographing actors?

Erickson: Much depends on the actor and their experience, including the experience of being photographed, whether in rehearsal or performance. More care needs to be taken to be less intrusive when less experienced actors are involved, but generally speaking, whoever the actor is, it’s important that me and the camera facing the stage are somewhat familiar with the actor so I’m more in the background. than an obvious presence.

Spradlin: What about your current photographic technique?

Erickson: Although I change lenses on occasion, I prefer to use a telephoto lens for all but formal portraits, or very elaborate and posed images, or images of, say, a “costume show” where the 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.

Spradlin: What difficulties do you face when photographing actors in their element?

Erickson: It varies according to the stage of production, there is a lot more freedom of movement for me, vis-à-vis the actors, earlier in the life of a production. I should not photograph a play performed in front of a live audience. Getting up and clicking on a camera, even from a distance, is not to be done. The next best thing is dress rehearsals at full throttle, and to photograph them well it’s best if I have an idea of ​​the piece and how it’s being played so I can anticipate critical moments and to creatively position myself 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. Harsh white lights, which are so useful for a photographer, are not preferred by actors or directors.

Spradlin: Many of the photos in the exhibit, perhaps the majority of them, seem to have a lot of shadow, darkness, negative space. Is this part of your approach, or something that just happens?

Erickson: The absence of light is also very important, on stage as elsewhere. The absence of light is something I cherish. As long as there is some light somewhere, shadow – and shades of shadow – are my friend. We live in less than bright light much of our lives, and like our emotions, our lives are spent between literal and figurative light and dark. Shadow, the absence of light, is so often used to emphasize what is in the light and in the emotions of the piece.

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

The pieces depicted in the photo exhibit are:

  • “All my sons.”

  • “Art.”

  • “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.”

  • “BoeingBoeing”.

  • “Ladies from the basement of the church.”

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

  • “The Elephant Man.”

  • “Some good men.”

  • “Five women wearing the same dress.”

  • “Mom Mia!”

  • “The odd couple.”

  • “Rumors.”

  • “Road to Scotland.”

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

  • “Talk with.”

  • “The Woman in Black.”

  • “Xanadu”.

  • “Young Frankenstein.”

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