Doris Duke Theatre Memories - by Nel Shelby Productions. Photo by Christopher Duggan

Doris Duke Theatre Memories

by | Nov 30, 2020 | Performance Video

The heartbreaking news about the Doris Duke Theatre burning to the ground has me in shock.

This theatre represents life, home, opportunity, strength, resilience and pure joy.

See that red door through the trees in this photo? I have walked in there with my video team, my colleagues, my friends a million times over almost 20 years.

I have lugged equipment inside that door, ran up the stairs to do countless sound checks. Live mixed countless shows, filmed countless shows, watched dress rehearsals, brought my kids to shows, watched shows with my husband, filmed countless b-roll of parties, rehearsals, master classes.

I have yelled up to the booth for my sound, I have climbed under the theatre seats to run s-video cable. I have climbed on ladders to run cables through the smallest hole that ran into our mixing booth.

I have taught over 40 interns how to film in this theatre. I have almost fainted from heat exhaustion before it was air conditioned in this theatre. I was an intern and learned how to film in this theatre. I have filmed the best of the best of the best artists in this theatre.

I have laughed, I have cried, I have grown up in this theatre. I have watched artists premier in this theatre, I have watched patrons walk in and out and in and out of this theatre. I have been in a black out in this theatre. I have watched almost 20 intern spoofs in this theatre.

I cherish this theatre and love this theatre and will never ever let my memories fade away because this place shaped who I am.

I want to find the silver lining, but really what I want to do is grieve over the loss of something that feels like an old friend. I know it is just a place and memories live on, but this is more than a place – this represents art and opportunity.

I wish I could hug all of the artists, all of the videographers, all of the arts administrators, patrons, ushers, tech crew, and photographers that were blessed to be in this theatre.

I send you love.


PS: I know many of you are grieving the loss of the Doris Duke Theatre as well. Jacob’s Pillow has set up a webpage to keep everyone up-to-date with the option to donate and share a personal memory. Please consider supporting if you are able to.

Nel Shelby is Owner & Filmmaker for Nel Shelby Productions, her New York City-based company dedicated to dance videography and editing. Nel shares her mission to preserve and promote the art of dance with her husband, Christopher Duggan, a dance and wedding photographer. They collaborate on projects with dance companies of worldwide renown, up-and-coming choreographers, dance educators, dance schools and more. Nel is Video Producer at Jacob’s Pillow and Vail Dance Festival and is also the proud Director and Producer of PS DANCE! — a New York Emmy-nominated documentary about dance education in NYC’s public schools.