Open Rehearsal: The Court Theatre Blog

August 7, 2013

The Art of the Image

by Kate Vangeloff in

One of my favorite parts of my job is helping to create the “marketing image” for the show.  What do I mean by that? Well, if you live off the blue or the red line, you might have seen our ads for The Mountaintop rolling by. They look like this: 


Ever wonder what goes in to capturing a photo like that? Well, quite a bit actually! First the marketing department and our photographer, Joe Mazza, meet with the director to discuss his or her vision for the production. When we met with Ron OJ Parson, he was adamant that he wanted to emphasize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s humanity rather than his celebrity. He felt very strongly that any imagery quoting the civil rights movement in the form of King marching or giving a speech wouldn’t communicate what the play was about; The Mountaintop is most importantly an imagining of what Dr. King was like when he wasn’t on the pulpit.


That’s where the smoking came in. And the flowers.  Both of these objects play a large role in the script, although in very different ways, and we thought juxtaposing them against the iconography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr would be enough to show that this wasn’t going to be your typical MLK play. (As a side note, not a lot of people know that Dr. King smoked because it wasn’t part of the public image he presented, but he was indeed a smoker.)


Rather than forcing a staged shot, we generally like to have a few ideas to play with, such as flowers or smoke, and then see what happens naturally the day of. This approach is particularly defined by our photographer, Joe Mazza, who likes to work in a more improvisational style. In fact our photo shoots are very much like a jazz improv session—some of the best photos are completely unexpected—even accidents.

Here are some unexpected photos from our “jam session” that we may or may not end up using for marketing purposes, but that we love nonetheless:



Another reason the photo shoots are one of my favorite parts of my job is that I get to interact with the actors. What’s more, the photo shoot is often the first time the actors meet each other or at least spend an extended period of time together, so it’s really interesting to watch them start to discover the relationship between their characters.  David Alan Anderson (Dr. King) and Lisa Beasley (Camae) were both super fun to work with AND hilarious. I can’t wait to see them in these roles.


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