A Barnes-storming start to 2021…

Kicking off the year making a mess with ‘behind the scenes’ images for OTC‘s online production of Peter Barnes’ People

January brought Lockdown 3, snow in London and a fair dose of the blues, but also an ace commission from longtime collaborators  The Original Theatre Company.

Their innovative online productions have been a real highlight of the last year and the latest, in partnership with radio producers Perfectly Normal Productions, is a four-part of staging of Peter Barnes’ People.

Originally commissioned by BBC Radio 3 in the 70s, four of the monologues have been filmed on set for broadcast and it seems a perfect visual retrofit for online audiences hungry for the theatre experience in 2021.

Going ‘Behind the Scenes’

The promo images for each different monologue were shot to feel like candid of ‘behind the scenes’ images – (circle, L-R) Jon Culshaw, Jemma Redgrave, Matthew Kelly and Adrian Scarborough.

Unifying the Campaign

Of course, name/face recognition of the actors is just as important for selling tickets – which can be bought per-monologue, or as a set – online as in the real world. Though Barnes is well-known, the characters in these monologues do not have the instant recognisability of Bennett’s Talking Heads, recently filmed by the BBC. Each is very different in tone and subject matter.

Plus with Covid still making itself felt, we also had to factor in a strict social distancing regime: I would shoot with each actor individually – three in my Waterloo studio, and 1 on set in Windsor, where filming was taking place.

So, working with a brief from ace designer Rebecca Pitt, we made a virtue of these elements to unify the campaign: creating images that were deliberately staged to feel ‘behind-the-scenes,’ as though the actor had been caught in a candid moment, or between takes. Half in, and half out of character, they each brandished a prop or wore clothing that nodded to their scenario.

Making Mess Tell an Advertising Story

It can be hard to make behind the scenes shots look artfully arranged; you’re forced to ask questions as you break photographic rules. What is too much background clutter? Can a backdrop cut right through the back of a head? Should that light stand be in shot?

But, artfully arranged, these elements helped the set hang together as a whole and also allowed Rebecca to create unplanned-for composite images.

Original were delighted with the outcome for press launch this week, so fingers crossed we told an advertising story that will make buying a ticket a no-brainer.

Watch the show(s)

Barnes’ People will be available to stream from 18 Feb 2021 19:30 until 31 Jul 2021 23:55

You can order tickets for the set of monologues, or individual shows, at: