Kata Sasvari, Hungarian transplant and photographer, in front of some of her photos

Worth Knowing: Photo exhibit at Northern Stage (or how a Hungarian woman took a vacation and ended up living in the Upper Valley as a photographer)


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Kata needed a change of pace in 2008. She'd been working too many jobs and studying too hard. Born in Eger, Hungary, Kata was living in Budapest working for a real estate company and as a tour guide. She was the Secretary General of the Hungarian Rope Skipping Organization as well as of the European Rope Skipping Organization. And she was studying at the University of Szeged. When she finished her studies, a friend suggested that she take a well-earned vacation to think about what to do next. She decided to visit a couple she knew in New Hampshire. 

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Kata started her vacation in Hanover with friends Bruce and Jenna Generaux. The Generauxs owned the Upper Valley Events Center in Route 5 in Norwich, and she spent some time hanging around there. She hadn't planned on meeting anyone, but she met Tuck Stocking. Tuck was running the Upper Valley Rock School at the Events Center. After 2 weeks together, it was time for Kata to return to Hungary. But after spending 4 months apart, Kata and Tuck knew they needed to be together. 

Kata returned 8 months after she'd left, arriving in the Upper Valley on April 8, 2009. She and Tuck opened Tuck's Rock Dojo the very next day at a studio in Etna. He was the teacher and musician; she was the eye, the one who documented the Dojo's concerts and events. 

Kata hadn't had any training in photography, and it was never something she had been able to find the time or money to pursue. But that changed when she picked up a camera in 2009. She likes to think that photography  found her. The more photographs she took, the better she got. People started asking her to take family photos. 

In 2016, Northern Stage invited Tuck's Rock Dojo to collaborate on a production of School of Rock. They got permission from the Broadway production to perform the musical if and only if all of the actors and musicians in the production were under the age of 18. 

Stick it to the Man in School of Rock

Tuck collaborated with Northern Stage in the adaptation and execution of The School of Rock production, and Kata was there to photograph it. She was amazed by the response from the parents of the young actors and musicians. They loved her work, which was very flattering to a self-taught photographer.

Northern Stage was impressed by Kata's work, too. After the School of Rock production closed in 2016, Northern Stage hired Kata as a freelancer to shoot its youth ensembles. Northern Stage liked her work so much that it hired her as the photographer for its 2018/2019 season through June. 

Sea spirits in Twelfth Night

As part of her job, Kata is constantly on the set. She relishes working with the performers at Northern Stage but particularly likes working with the kids. She sees their joy in their work, their pride in being taken seriously and their comfort in feeling valued by the Northern Stage staff.

Kata loves what she does. She views her job as trying to capture the emotions of the actors. In her book, a good photo is one that stands alone without any context. You shouldn't have to know that a photo is from a scene from a given play to understand that the actor is portraying hope or loyalty or terror. 

Actor Trevor Siegel telegraphing devotion in Yo, Vikings

But don't let Worth Knowing tell you, come see for yourself. Northern Stage has mounted an exhibit that contains 27 of Kata's photos. In fact, there's an opening reception this Friday at Northern Stage. Come see her photos. Some are in color, some are in black and white.  The photos were selected from her collection of several thousand photos of the youth ensembles she's amassed over the last 3 seasons. Eric Love, Director of Northern Stage's Educational Department and of the current performance Matilda The Musical, curated the show. It's fascinating to compare images of some of the same young actors over the course of several productions. They seem to be growing up before your very eyes. 

Kata's photographs will be exhibited at Northern Stage in White River Junction through January 4. You should really check it out. What better time to do this than this Friday night at White River Junction's First Friday. Come to the exhibit's opening reception from 5-7 pm and see Kata's work, have some hors d'oeuvres and sample the Hungarian sweets Kata's mom is making for the event.

If you're interested in Kata's work beyond the show, you can see her work at katasasvari.com

Some of the black and white photos on exhibit

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