Two former Pittsburghers, two directors' visions



When it comes to filming stage to screen, no one wants to cloud anyone else's vision.

Two former Pittsburghers -- Rob Ashford and Don Roy King -- have been involved in shaping alternate content, but from different angles.

Mr. Ashford, a Point Park University alumnus, co-directed "Macbeth" with Kenneth Branagh, and they soon will stage it in New York City. The Scottish play debuted at a festival in England last year and was filmed by National Theatre's NT Live crew for broadcast here and around the world.

NT Live shot the production after one rehearsal and was challenged by the show's unusual staging in a deconsecrated church. Mr. Ashford was in there for the shoot, standing with the stage managers and checking a monitor that displayed the action.

"It was very weird for me to see it twice, at once," he said, laughing.

He said he was impressed with the respect shown to his and Sir Kenneth's concept: "They weren't trying to make it their own, they were trying, as best they could, to show audiences the production that we had done."

When he isn't at his day/night job as director for "Saturday Night Live," Mr. King, a graduate of Gateway High School, also directs screen versions of plays. He began in the late 1990s with Broadway Worldwide president Bruce Brandwen and has worked on six productions, most recently Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad in "Romeo and Juliet."

In the early days, he said, he might have used up to 11 cameras and filming might have taken a week. On "Romeo," there were six cameras. Another big difference: His early work relied on being able to stop the action (one was filmed in an actual studio), but this latest venture involved filming two performances on the same day.

That was it.

"I went in thinking, 'I'm not sure we are going to be able to get enough to capture for editing ... but it did work, and I was thrilled," Mr. King said.

Another consideration for "Romeo and Juliet": When filming musicals, it's easier to hide microphones. But the Shakespearean actors weren't normally miked. They had to wear small body packs for the filming, he said, "and it was just amazing that they adjusted."

He said he was careful to regard the intent of David Leveaux, the show's director.

"For each of the directors, I asked for input," Mr. King said. "Some were more involved than others in the editing process and I felt that my job was to capture their vision as best I could."


Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.

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