April 7th, 2012

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Black Londoners to hold largest Mayoral hustings, Thursday 12 April 6pm

Photo credit: http://www.obv.org.uk/

Cut and pasted from the Operation Black Vote website:

In what is likely to be one of the largest Mayoral Hustings during this often acrimonious contest, a coalition of Black leaders including church and business leaders, activists, faith groups, and others will be hosting a rally/hustings to help decide who will be the next Mayor for London. Given that BME communities across the capital make up a third of all Londoners, our collective vote could be a deciding factor. With issues ranging from transport, policing, young people, and the socio economic regeneration of London, alongside a discussion on health, wellbeing and planning permission, this event is earmarked to be a watershed for Black Britain to decide who best matches their aspirations for London’s future.

Follow the link for all the details and to register:

I am going - JOIN ME!
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Simon Annand: The Half, Idea Generation Gallery

David Tennant, Royal Shakespeare Company, 2000
Photo credit: http://gallery.ideageneration.co.uk/blogs/909/view

Cut and pasted from the Idea Generation Gallery Website:

Capturing the mystery and magic of backstage theatre photographer Simon Annand captures the intimate moment where the actor enters psychological negotiation in the final half an hour before curtain up. Idea Generation Gallery has had a major exhibition from his celebrated book "The Half" as well as a series of new and unseen images of London’s leading theatre performers.

For over 25 years Simon Annand has been given unprecedented access to the secret backstage world of London’s West End, shooting everything from Chekhov to Panto. Idea Generation Gallery has been showcasing a stunning exhibition of his dazzling photographs, including shots from his 2008 book The Half, as well as a series of new and unseen images of some of the world’s most illustrious stage actors.

The Half or ‘final call’ is the half an hour before the curtain rises, when an actor is left in solitude to focus on the performance ahead of them. This world of preparation is intimate, yet Simon Annand has witnessed these intriguing moments that the audience never sees. Portraying each actor as a worker, his subtle, engaging and intimate portraits allow the viewer to see the physical and mental preparation that is required as the actor leaves their day behind, in readiness for performing on the stage that evening.

The exhibition closes tomorrow (Sunday 8 April).

Follow the link to read more and for the full details:

Photo credit: http://www.culturelabel.com/blog/2012/03/22/best-of-british-actors/

Raks's Reaction

As I think everyone knows, I know next to nothing about art and photography, although I am a keen amateur photographer, especially of people. So I came to this exhibition as someone primarily interested in theatre, as I wanted an insight into how actors prepare themselves for going on stage every night.

I just LOVED this exhibition. I had only intended to go once, with a friend, but I enjoyed it so much I went back on another day just to spend some quality time with my favourite pieces. So what were my favourite pieces?

My favourite piece in the whole exhibition, because of the joy and laughter that it captured, and because the production will always have a special place in my heart, was not Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature in Frankenstein, but Mark Gatiss as Bernard in Season's Greetings, holding his puppet pigs. The photo is a positive joy.

My other favourites were VERY predictable! and were:
- Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature in Frankenstein
- Tom Hardy
- Mark Rylance in Jerusalem
- Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot
- Eddie Redmayne
- Jude Law
- David Tennant
(The Ralph Fiennes photo was not in the exhibition - travesty!).

Benedict Cumberbatch, the Creature in Frankenstein, National Theatre, 2011
Photo credit: http://www.culturelabel.com/shop/idea-generation-gallery?limit=16&p=1

Tom Hardy, 2004
Photo credit: http://www.culturelabel.com/shop/idea-generation-gallery?limit=16&p=1

Mark Rylance, Jerusalem, Apollo Theatre, 2011
Photo credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/uk/london/galleries/9103172/Famous-theatre-actors-caught-offstage.html?image=16

Eddie Redmayne, Red, Donmar Warehouse, 2009
Photo credit: http://www.culturelabel.com/shop/idea-generation-gallery?limit=16&p=1

There are lots of images in the book which are not in the exhibition eg a stunning photo of Ralph Fiennes, Matt Smith, an extra image of Benedict Cumberbatch, extra images of Mark Gatiss, a stunning photo of Rory Kinnear. In fact the book is just a goldmine of photographs and information and as I leafed through it I was reminded of many productions that I had seen and loved, as well as many productions which I hadn't seen but I wish I had! If you want to have a look at the book and you are based in London, it is stocked in the National Theatre bookshop.

You can buy "The Half: Photographs of Actors Preparing for the Stage" from Amazon. Follow the link:

Contextual Information

Cut and pasted from Simon Annand's Website:

Whatever theatre actors do during the day, each evening they go on stage to give a performance as “somebody else”. The dressing room is a physical space that allows for concentration and privacy so the psychological negotiation between the actor and this fictional character can take place. When ‘The Half’ is called over the loudspeaker backstage, it is the start of a 35 minute countdown to facing the audience and there is no escape. It is rare to see actors at this point in their work.

Over 25 years SIMON ANNAND has been given unprecedented access to photograph this in-between world that the audience never sees.

Follow the link to read more, see more photos, and to view videos of Simon Annand being interviewed and talking about his working process plus a bonus video of Andrew Scott preparing:

Finally, I just love this image of Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2009.

Photo credit: http://www.simonannand.com/the-half/
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One in Ten by UB40

As I said, I have been taking a trip down memory lane via songs that I knew and loved. I came across "One in Ten" by UB40. UB40 are from Birmingham, my home town, and I grew up with them and their music in the 80s. Given that I am currently unemployed, and working with a lot of client groups that fall into the category of society's outcasts (homeless, mentally ill, excluded children and young people), the lyrics of the song struck a real chord with me.

Photo credit: http://www.amazon.co.uk/UB40-Signing-Off-Bonus-12/dp/images/B0053F3R5W

Cut and pasted from Wikipedia:

UB40 are a British reggae/pop band formed in 1978 in Birmingham. The band has placed more than 50 singles in the UK Singles Chart, and has also achieved considerable international success. One of the world's best-selling music artists, UB40 have sold over 70 million records. Their hit singles include their debut "Food for Thought" and two U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number ones with "Red Red Wine" and "Can't Help Falling in Love". Both of these also topped the UK Singles Chart, as did the band's version of "I Got You Babe".

The band members began as friends who knew each other from various schools across Birmingham. The name "UB40" was selected in reference to the document issued to people claiming unemployment benefit from the UK government's Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) at the time of the band's formation. The designation UB40 stood for Unemployment Benefit, Form 40.

"One in Ten" is a single by UB40 released in 1981 on their second album Present Arms. It reached No. 7 on the UK singles charts. One in Ten is mistakenly cited as referring to the number of unemployed in the UK at that time. It is in fact a song about government statistics in general, and how politicians use them to de-humanise problems.

Lyrics reproduced in full:

"One in Ten" by UB40

I am the one in ten
A number on a list
I am the one in ten
Even though I don`t exist
Nobody knows me
But I`m always there
A statistical reminder
Of a world that doesn`t care

My arms enfold the dole queue
Malnutrition dulls my hair
My eyes are black and lifeless
With an underprivileged stare
I`m the beggar on the corner
Will no-one spare a dime?
I`m the child that never learns to read
`Cause no-one spared the time

(Chorus) I am the one in ten ...

I`m the murderer and the victim
The licence with the gun
I`m a sad and bruised old lady
In an ally in a slum
I`m a middle aged businessman
With chronic heart disease
I`m another teenage suicide
In a street that has no trees

(Chorus) I am the one in ten ...

I`m a starving third world mother
A refugee without a home
I`m a house wife hooked on Valium
I`m a Pensioner alone
I`m a cancer ridden spectre
Discovering the earth
I`m another hungry baby
I`m an accident of birth.

(Chorus) I am the one in ten ...
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Stuart Stops the Blog

Photo credit: http://charlidos.tumblr.com/post/2856844547/hq-stills-from-stuart-a-life-backwards-part-9-15

I am now stopping the blog for today with a tribute to Stuart and Tom Hardy, who was simply outstanding in the role. Above is THE most hauntingly beautiful image from Stuart which I have not run before. Tom's eyes speak to you, and the feeling in his eyes comes from the depths of his soul.

My feature on Stuart is here: