Strat Mastoris is a photographer and writer living in Brighton.
I’ve always been fascinated by theatre, and I enjoy writing about it. I write theatre reviews for the FringeReview website www.fringereview.co.uk and occasional literature reviews for the Sabotage website www.sabotagereviews.com in addition to the play analyses and articles that you can read here.
Not just writing – I also do theatre performance photography, and design lighting, stage sets and posters – you can see some of the posters on this site, and much more about my design work for theatre at www.seeingstages.com
As well as all this – I occasionally direct plays, for the New Venture Theatre in Brighton. Over the past few years I have directed –
Caryl Churchill – ‘A Number’ and ‘Seven Jewish Children’
Jean Genet – ‘The Maids’ and ‘Deathwatch’
A R Gurney – ‘Love Letters’
But basically – I’m a photographer (everyone has to have a day job…), and you can see examples of architectural, corporate and travel photography on my photography site at www.stratmastorisphotography.com
You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why reviews? ‘News is only the first draft of History’. Alan Barth, a journalist on The Washington Post, wrote that in 1943. I don’t see myself as writing ‘History’, with all the academic analysis and perspective that the word implies, but I am trying to write a contemporary ‘eyewitness account’. What was it like to BE at that performance on that particular night? What did that production FEEL like? If I can give a sense of the flavour of the event – if I can make readers experience some of the sensations I felt myself – then I’ll have produced a piece of writing that’s useful today but that, hopefully, will have some lasting value as well. Remember that after a few years, the review might well be the only record of a production.
Why theatre? I’ve long felt that theatre is the only really ‘grown-up’ medium. Film tries to get closer and closer to a simulacrum of reality, with sound, then colour, followed by high definition, and now 3D. Theatre, by contrast, doesn’t try to convince us that we’re seeing reality – instead, the basic cues are sketched out on the stage, and we the audience fill in the details ourselves.
When we watch a play we enter into a pact with the theatrical company – you will tell us a story and we will suspend disbelief while you do so. It’s how all theatre works. We know that in reality the people in front of us are actors, and that the door at the side just leads off to backstage, but we choose to believe, for the duration of the play, that these people are lovers, or murderers, and that the door opens onto a castle, or a garden, or a courtroom …
After a short while we focus on the actors themselves and the artifice of the stage setting seems to – disappear. Most plays could be done as film, with computer-generated special effects to produce the surroundings, but it wouldn’t generate that same degree of involvement; that deliberate ignoring of the flatness (or absence) of the scenery, and of constantly processing what we are actually looking at, to produce what we have decided – chosen – to see.