Ascending A Staircase, City Varieties, Leeds, 18652018
Ascending a Staircase, is a photographic series of theatre interiors in venues across the North of England. The images aim to probe the historical contexts of performance and to ask questions of the format itself: what did access to a career onstage mean? What kind of visibility did the theatrical stage offer? What were the limitations?
Using the staircases up to or from the stage as a device that opens up these questions, the compositions locate these stairs within the wider framework of theatrical architectural. By using the visual clues of the architecture, women are invited in to the theatre to be looked at—but this offer is limited, the theatre is not a neutral space for the presentation of self. The photographs present the gilding, ornate decoration, plush velvets, as well as the didactic signs, for example ‘No Smoking’, which all condition our viewing—much like the regimes we encounter beyond the theatre that similarly shape our vision.