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Photo Info

Dimensions864 x 752
Original file size255 KB
Image typeJPEG
Color spaceAdobe RGB (1998)
Date taken12-Jul-15 10:25
Date modified1-Oct-15 21:48
Shooting Conditions

Camera makePhase One
Camera modelP45+
Focal length (35mm)163 mm
Exposure1/30 at f/NA
ISO speedISO 100
Ludlow South of Delancey.  New York City (Composite image). 2015

Ludlow South of Delancey. New York City (Composite image). 2015

In 1979, after 10 years of trying (too) hard to Be A Photographer, I entered graduate school to earn a PhD in Theatre Arts. Photography was still on my mind, however, and as I walked to and from campus, I would often see scenes on the street that I wanted to photograph because they looked like stage sets.

Jump ahead more than 35 years and as I walk around the city, I see such street scenes again. The one presented by this photograph caught my eye because it seemed ready-made to serve as a set for a classic commedia dell'arte farce. These plays were often set on the street because that is where much of life was lived, and this scene is particularly rich in doorways and windows available for dramatic entrances by each of the commedia's "character types."

The two scheming servants would emerge from separate basements via the trap doors in the sidewalk: one red, the other black. The braggart soldier comes marching down the street, ready to challenge anyone. The young lovers wittily test each other from windows on opposite sides of the entrance: the young woman stands on the lowest balcony, stage right, while the young man sits astride a window sill stage left, each of them highlighted by the surrounding white moulding. The old cuckold struggles on the stairs, unsure whether he is going in or coming out -- which suggest, of course, his impotence, which drives the cruel but comic plot. From the heavenly balcony, high at center stage, Columbine directs the amorous action while Pierrot looks on in lonely despair from the confining cage of the small balcony that juts out, stage right, from between the yellow and red buildings. And of course that outrageously painted steel door, stage left, could only be Harlequin's entrance.

You don't have to make this stuff up. It's right there for the taking: life on the street.