Play at The Castle

Illyria Present

Romeo & Juliet - Montgomery Castle

Last minute shoppers filling bags with fine ale and snacks make their way up the hill to Montgomery Castle while keeping an eye on a tumbling sky as the mist draws down to the sound of lambs bleating in the distant fields.

Squeaky trollies filled with comforting delights climb the hill, foldable chairs, hats and gloves at the ready should that dark and menacing cloud come their way, weather reports flashing up on phones, the weather's on the change and the storm brews.

It’s 6.30pm and it’s dark, for any other setting the Castle today would make for a great atmospheric and ghostly themed photoshoot, but not tonight, tonight Illyria are performing Romeo & Juliet and whatever the weather – the show much go on…..

And so it begins - “In fair Verona, where we lay our scene" Gosh! That’s going to require a bit of imagination taking into account the rain coming down just now – but no - wait, Shakespeare’s magic works a treat and all but for a modicum of rain, most of the very dark and very menacing clouds seem to be heading away from the Castle.

As the clouds lighten and the rain fades we get fully into the moment helped by the dynamic, expressive and professional performance of the actors and their ability to draw in the audience – expressive acting is what I love, oh, that does make for some great photography, it’s the same with dancing, posed compositions are fine but action shots and expression doth make for a great photo!

As the evening draws on, the light begins to fade, this is my favourite part, the challenge of getting dynamic shots using the available light. With the natural light fading and the stage lights becoming more prominent we shoot full manual to balance out the natural light with the stage lights, we also want to keep away any noise and grain so keep the ISO as low as possible, lens almost wide open (you need a fast lens for this to capture as much light as possible and have some good  DoF) and keep the shutter speed and aperture balanced across the changing light scene.

The view - It’s a must, that view of the stage and St Nicholas Church in the background – it's iconic to Montgomery and the play at the Castle each year – I have a stab at it but the shot looks dank, ho-hum, maybe next year.

I move to the front and take some close ups of the actors then spot something odd – one of the actors is squinting - squinting! ? Why are they squinting?, no wait, the sun, the sun is causing it - the sun is out! I “quietly” race to the back to look at St Nicholas Church, and there it is in all it’s glory and my actors are moving unbeknown to them, into position – yay – I have my shot!

As the evening comes to an end and our actors bid us farewell, our audience, delighted with the performance and relieved not to get wet, have seen out the storm, managed to smile and laugh, catch up with friends during the interval and had an amazing evening of fun and entertainment in the beautiful setting of Montgomery Castle.

One could feel a bit sad that the fun has come to end, but no, not in Montgomery – there is so much more coming up, for more information on upcoming events in and around Montgomery, check out the Montgomery Wales FB page here: Montgomery Wales

Images from the the performance at Montgomery Castle on the 9th July 2024. If you would like copies of the images on this page, please get in contact with us.

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