Miki Barlok


Miki Barlok was born in Slovakia into a family of Architects. Inspired and nurtured by the creative influence of his father, he grew up with an awareness of beauty that surrounded him, something that he wanted to hold on to and capture. From this he developed an interest in photography, an art that he grew passionate about.  After qualifying as an Architect at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava and working in the profession for a few years, his instinct and passion for his photography led him to the world of fashion, music and theatre. Since then he has been widely published and works with commercial, fashion and performance artist clients.



Miki Barlok is photographing theatre for years and his attention was always drawn backstage, where all the magic happens. He dedicated a large proportion of last year to capturing the essence of life behind the scenes at Cork Opera House with a specific vision of giving credit to all the hard work happening backstage. Exposing the core of theatre is to appreciate the final perfected performance even more. This book is a backstage pass that invites you to see the unseen.
‘Backstage Pass’ book will be launched on Thursday April 30th in the Bodega at 6:30pm and then will be available to purchase in the box office of Cork Opera House.



Having worked as a photographer in theatre for several years, I have always been drawn to the life behind the curtains. Being witness to the raw energy of rehearsals has been one of those rare privileges I have had, my camera an all access pass to a hidden world. Here, the real and the unreal exist at the same time. In this constructed place, watching scenes being built of light, stage and sound, actors can be anything and anyone. When you are in this deep, you are not an observer anymore, you feel it, you live it. You understand the reasons for things happening. You get emotional, you get frustrated, you get excited. You become a part of the dream.

A few years back I was working on a documentary about the making of a musical. There, submerged in backstage life for an intensive few weeks, I was exposed constantly to the veiled world of a venue. My time there changed me, and I realised that the privilege I had because of my camera, could be captured and shared. Cork Opera House gave me freedom to make this happen, the time and trust to become part of the world behind the venue.

Over the course of a year I worked on this project, becoming invisible, allowing me to capture the truth of the place. I wanted to create a record of what I experienced and to capture this seen and unseen life. I observed the duality, the contrast between them, the black and the white of it all. It become like two worlds meeting each other without borders, and I began to feel like another audience member seeing the shows from through the looking glass. I saw a story playing out in front of me, a story and a spectacle that everyone became part of.

You could be joking a few minutes earlier, but when the curtain goes up, there is this quiet moment. The silence before the storm. The last breath in and breath out and off and on you go. Backstage becomes your home for a few months. It becomes your living room, your boudoir, your dining room. You find a new foster family. Time stands still in the twilight of the stage. For brief moments it seems like you know each other for years and then suddenly; it’s over. You part again. The show ends, the foster families disband, move on. And the cycle starts again. The neverending cycle. Like castaways in the belly of a giant beast, its slow moving set of lungs filling and emptying silently, the breathing cycle of the venue.


Within a few days the once filled stage, now lying empty, is prepared to absorb the new life. The black space becomes colourful. The stillness is replaced with movement. Sometimes it can look chaotic and random. Sometimes very surreal and bizarre. It can be crazy and messy, but there is an order to things. Everything is synced. Everything has its own place and time to shine. Every detail is important. When the show starts, all the hard work and subtlety will come together and create unforgettable memories. This is the nature of the chaotic clockwork of the theatre. Repeating, always a different way yet always the same.

My camera has been a backstage pass. See for yourself what it sees with me.

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