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Photos at the Factory

May 20, 2011 Articles, Projects

Founded in 1970 by Ken Gass, the Factory Theatre has a long history of producing Canadian plays in Toronto. For 39 years,  it’s been know as “the home of the Canadian playwright” and has produced over 200 Canadian mainstage plays and 600 workshops.

On a cold and rainy afternoon, a shutterbug of photographers from local photography clubs – some of which I’ve shot with before – descended on the Factory Theatre for the opportunity to participate in the Doors Open Toronto 2011 Photography Competition. We were invited for a private tour of the inner workings of the theatre and given a couple of hours to photograph and submit 3 photos – 2 interior and 3 exterior – that “reveal the gothic spirit of this heritage site.”

Originally John Mulvey House and built in 1869, there’s a lot of exterior Queen Anne Gothic details – unfortunately with a rainy day and rainy week – not so easy to shoot. Our tour of the interior included the main stage, although I was disappointed to find that we were not allowed back stage where I had hoped to shoot all the wonderful treasures associated with theatre production – ropes, pulleys, and backdrops. All we could shoot were the seats and theatre. Due to a production taking place, the stage set was copyrighted and could not be shot.

Apart from the main theatre itself, there really wasn’t much to see or shoot as all offices were off-limits so we had a couple of hallways, staircases, and the lounge – which was recently renovated – to explore. I did find a great nook at the entrance to the theatre that had old production posters that I found quite kitschy and fun to shoot. However, there was a distinct lack of original lights, furniture, or fittings.

Although gothic on the outside, the interior has definitely seen a lot of renovation. According to their website, most of the interior has been renovated as of 1983, removing most of the original gothic charm: the lounge used to be bedrooms; stage extension and permanent seating used to be the church hall; a nursery became a workshop; and the stained glass window in the rehearsal hall is fake, installed in 1980 for the shoot of David Cronenberg’s cult classic Videodrome.

I did manage to find 3 photos that I liked from the shoot and will be submitting to the contest – you’ve seen them already as they’re in this article. Wish me luck!

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