Rankin also launches new PERFORMANCE book featuring photos from the exhibition
Rankin, one of the most celebrated photographers in the UK, has a new photo exhibition in London – and it features the stars of West End shows.
The free exhibition, titled “Performance by Rankin”, opened last month at theFujifilm House of Photography on Long Acre in Covent Garden, and continues until 30 January 2022.
The exhibition celebrates the return of live theatre and musicals to London after the Covid lockdowns, and has seen Rankin join forces with the Mayor of London and the Society of London Theatre on the project.
“Performance by Rankin” demonstrates the talent and resilience of our West End people – both in front of the curtain and back stage, and to celebrate the fact that London theatre is the cultural heart of our city.
Over 150 portraits from nearly 60 shows are included in the exhibition featuring star actors and dancers, writers, directors, dressers, stage doorkeepers, producers, stage managers, designers, technicians, pit musicians, puppeteers, front-of-house staff and more.
The exhibition is free, but visitors are encouraged to donate on site to the Theatre Artists Fund, which provides emergency aid to struggling theatre freelancers, as well as to four London youth homelessness charities selected by the Mayor of London: Depaul , akt , Centrepoint and New Horizons Youth Centre.
On 25 November Rankin also launched a new, limited edition book called PERFORMANCE that is a companion to the exhibition. A short run of copies has been printed on the Fujifilm Jet Press 750S with the remainder printed offset using Fujifilm’s Superia processless printing plates, by Emmerson Press. All profits from the book go to the charities listed above, and you can buy PERFORMANCE from Rankin here.
People photographed for the exhibition and book include Alfred Enoch, Rory Kinnear, Omari Douglas, Zizi Strallen, David Harewood and more, from casts and crews of shows including Six The Musical at the Vaudeville Theatre, Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre, Disney’s The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre, Cabaret at the Playhouse Theatre, Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical at the Lyric Theatre, Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, Only Fools and Horses at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, and Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Piccadilly Theatre.
Rankin is one of Britain’s most famous living photographers and has photographed everyone, from Queen Elizabeth II to The Rolling Stones, Daniel Craig, David Bowie, Jamie Foxx and Madonna.
Selected images from Performance
More from Rankin about the “Performance” project
“Not many people realise that most, including lots of the famous ones, hate to have their photo taken. They’re reluctant to get out under the lights pose. They don’t want to be looked at, scrutinised, or judged. A lot of them hate to have an audience and dislike to be the centre of attention. It’s always funny to me, though, whilst the people in front of my camera, with their hair and makeup perfect, don’t always want to be looked at. They often forget they’re looking back at me.
“In that way, everything I do as a photographer is a form of performance. Every move I make is seen. I have to be on, I have to be chatty, and I have to be what you want a photographer to be. Over the last 30 years, I’ve rehearsed, practised (a lot), and I think I’ve honed my craft. I’ve learnt the way to speak, the way to direct, the way to act around all types of people. Ultimately, how to get the shot – but I have to perform to get there.
“When we started this project, I tried to understand why the lack of live theatre over the last year had meant so much to me. Why I had felt such a personal loss. Then I realised. Theatre, like photography, is a team sport. It does not happen alone, and it is a home of true collaboration. Theatres closing lined up with when my studio fell quiet, my team taken away. I felt the loss of theatre because it was emblematic of the wider creative world shutting down and the isolation we all felt. It was the loss of the performance we all collaborate in every day.
“Taking pictures for this new project, the joy that every single subject brought to the sessions was like a breath of fresh air, rejuvenating my energy for what I do, as well as giving everyone a chance to perform again, albeit it just for my camera. The joy of being together, working on something collaboratively, was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever been part of.
“Theatre is the beating heart of London’s cultural scene. It is what draws people to the West End and allows all of us to escape into another world or narrative for a few hours. As people, we need to entertain and be entertained. It helps us feel things, to connect to laugh, cry and everything in between. So here’s to performance. I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate its return.”
Prince Edward Theatre
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