Behind the scenes at Birmingham Repertory Theatre
A photographic exhibition by Fraser McGee
At Medicine Bakery & Gallery, New Street Birmingham B2 4DU
27 June – 5 August 2019
A Birmingham photographer has spent a month backstage at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre taking hundreds of pictures which reveal the vast amount of usually unseen work that goes into bringing theatre to life on stage. The results will be seen in a special exhibition, PRODUCTION , taking place at Medicine Bakery and Gallery, the old gallery space of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists on Birmingham’s New Street from 27 June – 5 August.
Photographer Fraser McGee, was given access to all areas of Birmingham Repertory Theatre during a residency project last year. During this time he shot over 600 black and white images capturing the spirit and fundamental nature of the only producing theatre in the city and one of the biggest in the country. The pictures tell the story of a theatre as a manufacturing organisation – the theatre craftsmanship that operates behind the scenes at the city’s theatre in Centenary Square, from the making to the workers, the materials to the finished props.
Photographer, Fraser McGee said:
“As someone who is always trying to find interesting and unique narratives to tell through photography, the opportunity to work in residency at The REP to tell the story of the unseen, almost industrial side of the theatre, really grabbed me.
“Walking through the backstage area of The REP is not what you might expect. Passing through the workshop, you can’t help but be struck by the sheer size of the space. The array of manufacturing material and equipment, the aroma of freshly cut wood and the smell of newly welded steel all adds to the feel of a factory.
“The exhibition is essentially about the culmination of the hard work, skills, dedication, and the passion of all the people at The REP that results in each and every production.”
PRODUCTION features 100 black and white photographs from McGee’s residency at the theatre including a large panoramic picture of the theatre’s main stage and auditorium built in 1971, striking images of people at work, and more intricate images of crafting and making. Occupying the whole of the Medicine Gallery, the exhibition itself will be built by The REP’s Scenic workshop, using the same materials and creative approach used in building theatre productions.
Each year Birmingham Repertory Theatre presents 80 productions across its three stages many of which are commissioned, built, rehearsed and premiered in the city. A number of productions then also go on to tour nationally and internationally showcasing theatre made in Birmingham to a wider audience. The theatre houses a large set construction workshop where they make each component part of a set from timber and steel, a scenic paintshop where all sets and props are brought to life with colour and where artistic talent is used to create spectacular scenery, a small props workshop which makes realistic-looking objects such as moving models and puppets for use on stage and a wardrobe department which creates costumes.
Clare Jepson-Homer of Birmingham Repertory Theatre said:
“Our idea for this project was to give a local photographer an opportunity to explore and experience The REP through their lens. We wanted to see how someone who knew nothing of us would see our theatre, giving a new perspective. From the stacks of timber in the workshop to the closed doors of the rehearsal room there are so many hidden angles to The REP. The majority of our audience only ever see the finished show on stage – they never witness the backbone and labour of love that goes into creating each show. Fraser’s collection of photographs is a celebration of the making of theatre.”
Fraser McGee is a Birmingham-based photographer whose work is focused on documentary projects and street photography through which he endeavours to capture everyday life in the city. Originally from Glasgow, Fraser relocated to Birmingham in 2006 when working in the Healthcare industry. His career in this sector continued until 2018 while Fraser developed a second career direction based on his passion in life, photography. In 2018 Fraser took the decision to leave his established career and take the leap into a full time freelance photography role with his first major documentary project being PRODUCTION, for Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Fraser works with a wide range of commercial clients providing event, food, editorial, portrait, and many other types of photography.
27 June – 5 August
Medicine Bakery and Gallery, 69 New Street, Birmingham B2 4DU.
Open daily, 10am-5pm, free entry.
Please note Medicine Bakery and Gallery is only accessible via a steep staircase. For access queries, please email: email@example.com or call: 0121 245 2000