looking for love : a photojournal of collective ribaldry

joe mazza, the live event chicago photographer…

had an obliteratively good time at “Looking for Love” last saturday night.  it’s a monthly Cabaret and dating game show created by Carolyn Hoerdemann at Collaboraction’s Room 300 in the Flat Iron Building in Chicago.  Carolyn– a whiz-bang performer and right honorable, gorgeous person– is joined by the lovely-lewd panache of Maggie Graham in helming an evening of raw, ribald adultness.  …and it’s not for kids.  …or Ms. or Mr. Pants-Too-Tight.  it’s for all of us who can unbutton and join in.  at least figuratively.

Room 300 was packed– drinks were thrown at people from behind the bar (I even spotted someone walking around with their own personal bottle of Jack Daniels)– and everybody seemed comfortable as…themselves.

this is my kind of theater– with little (or nothing) between the audience and performers– and the definition of performance is highly elastic.  it brings back my experience in Catbox Cabaret in Cambridge in the 90’s.  Catbox was an experimental theater group inspired by Cabaret Voltaire, David Lynch, a Rabelaisian love for life’s bathos– and friendship.  we performed at the Cantab Lounge in Central Square which was at the time rather rowdy– long before the area flung itself into the unreachable upscale.  people talked during performance– and someone ordering a drink from across the room became part of the act.  to me, it’s where performers show themselves as not only genuine people– but it’s also where you see them flex their talent for creating beauty out of the chaos of the unexpected– because almost everything is unexpected.

this– is where Carolyn and Maggie…create some very funny beauty.

Looking for Love is an experience.

the seating is tight.  which is perfect.  everybody’s up against everybody which makes for positively charged air.  by the time you leave, you’re all family– even if you love some and want to quickly get away from others.  because the nature of the show is social– I met some great folks– including a wickedly cool actor named Lisa who’s from upstate ny.  in only a thimble of time, we shared thoughts on everything from being a performer in Chicago– to the craziness of dating, which is the show’s main theme.  Maggie Graham in performanceit happens that we know a lot of the same people– as theater weaves intimacy in even one of the largest US cities.

I also saw Fawzia Mirza– who was one of the contestants in the second half of the show.  as always, she was kleig-light bright, made me laugh all the way up from my size-nine shoes– and moved without effort from stage, to familiar conversation, and back again.  watching her and Carolyn a-stage was inspiring.  it’s awesome to watch friends perform together.

so– I left Looking for Love having laughed pretty hard.  I met some cool new people hopefully found some new artists to collaborate with.  this is what I think the show is about.  meeting people.  and of course laughing.  so– go.  and meet people.  and laugh.

if I weren’t so blurry-eyed tired– I’d write a proper review of the show, replete with ripey-good expletives– but I am donked and daft– dried to my marrow from eyeballs against a screen for 12 hours.

Looking for Love happens again on March 17th– and they’re looking for contestants.  particularly bachelors.  and even before that– Carolyn is opening in The Goodman Theatre production of Camino Real, directed by Calixto Bieito.  it opens March 3.  planning on seeing that, myself, yes.

about the shoot

shooting a live performance often means working on the edge of the quality envelope (humble thanks to one of my favorite photographers, David Hobby, for nailing an apt phrase to that area in which we find ourselves working so often– see David Hobby’s blog here: http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/)  even with breathtakingly fast lenses and a muscular camera that gulps light like a basking shark– it’s often difficult to capture things the way I’d prefer.  I, like most photographers, want the ability to control everything.

I want to position the light so it hits everyone with love.  I want to stop all action, mid-arc.  I want to frame like a despot; get rid of that pole in the middle of the room, so help me– I don’t care that it’s holding up the ceiling!   And– I want the license to interrupt the pomp to ask all to open their eyes and keep them open for 3…2…1…thank-you-got-it!  (I’ve contacted Canon USA several times or more about including a control on the top of the camera that would remotely widen all eyelids within the lense’s cone of vision.)  in almost any case of shooting a live show– the only things you can control are your camera (and even that’s limited to high iso, low shutter speed, and wide aperture!), your position relative to your subject (still quite limited!), and your creative attitude (as self limiting as you decide).

so– what excites me about this kind of shoot?  all of the above.  it’s a huge challenge to push equipment to its breaking point.  it’s a challenge to frame well, to find that tiny moment which resonates (such as this man’s gentle attendance to his partner’s reaction to the show)— and to find that one moment that you could never have possibly thought of– or directed anyone to do naturally.  it’s a challenge to find the gifts that are given you as a photographer– even if the gifts fly like swallows high above your ability to capture them.  out of a thousand shots– you might get that one that rives the body to reveal the soul.  (the universal one)   this kind of shoot that keeps me humble as an artist.

but enough of my prolixity!  you should go see Looking for Love.  and I hope these photos compel you to do so.  here’s the info, now go: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Looking-for-Love/239538852777686

equipment used: canon 7d, canon t3i, canon 24-70mm f 2.8 L, canon 135mm f2 L, no flash, all shots handheld; considerable post processing for most shots…next time– tripod, as much I’m loath.

Posted in live performance, theater and tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . RSS 2.0 feed.