Bathroom humor

Sunday, February 11, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:39 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

The assignment was a fiasco. The story I was sent to cover was about an actor, Kevin Babbitt, who was performing in an upcoming play. I was under the impression that Babbitt was having his final dress rehearsal. In reality, he was directing someone else’s dress rehearsal­ — in the pitch dark. He felt bad for me and let me stick around and photograph him directing someone else’s play.


The image of M. Heather Carver, playwright and performer of “Booby Prize: A Comedy About Breast Cancer,” is captured in an offbeat situation.

I called the photo department and, as usual, they said just shoot what you can. I was worried because this was my second assignment in my entire life and the first one hadn’t gone smoothly. It felt like photo hazing.

And then I totally lucked out. Dream of dreams, he’s directing a play about a clown. It’s not really about a clown; it’s about how a woman managed her struggle with breast cancer. The playwright and solo performer, M. Heather Carver, dressed up as a clown and illustrated how humor helped her navigate through the uncertain terrain. Before rehearsal, Carver, who was partially in costume, and Babbitt were talking next to a hat filled with red noses. And then they were talking next to a chest of clown clothes and wigs. I shot these pictures not knowing how on earth my photographs would match the reporter’s story about Babbitt’s play, “Being Frank,” which is based on a conversation between a journalist and Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father.

After about an hour, they dispersed to begin the rehearsal. Carver left the room to change and Babbitt went about doing director-type business — in the pitch dark. I could not shoot him anymore. I took pictures of the guys setting up chairs and realized that this was even further from the story. I packed up my lenses; the photo ops and my shift were over as far as I was concerned.

As I left the theater, I overheard Carver talking and then a splash of color ran through my peripheral vision. The internal “hmmm, should I?” . happened as I ran toward the bathroom door where I had seen the clown disappear.

I rushed through the door and assessed the situation. Yes, indeed! There is a clown in the bathroom. I asked for her permission to photograph, and from behind the pink stall door she giggled consent.

I literally dove onto the floor for the one picture that, when I saw it, I realized that I had always wanted to take.

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