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The Umbrella Organisation

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Simon Annand: The Half, Idea Generation Gallery
Raks New Profile Pic Square
rakspatel wrote in mycroft_brolly

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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Eddie! I very fond of Eddie since Birdsong and My Week With Marilyn. I want to adopt him to follow me around with adoration in his eyes. ;-) I'm very tempted to buy Simon Annand's book. After all, it's very reasonably priced compared to what I would have had to spend to physically go to the exhibition, since annoyingly the gallery wasn't open on Saturdays when I was in the vicinity. Will wrestle with my conscience on the subject for a while...

Forget wrestling ...


Still wavering. Have just bought another book of Colin Clark memoirs, as I'm so enjoyed reading My Week With Marilyn...

Mark Rylance looks amazing. I suppose you saw Jerusalem?? I'm adding a trip to the V&A National Video Archive of Performance to my wish list of places to go should I ever find myself with a few free hours in the city. Jerusalem is just one of many productions held there. :-)

What I liked about the Mark picture was how much he had personalised the dressing room space with notes from friends, and photos of people close to him. A lot of the other dressing rooms were very impersonal, cold and clinical (maybe because they were shared?).

No I didn't see Jerusalem. It is my one real regret. I was not quick enough to get a ticket. I could have day ticketed right at the end but stories of people queuing for hours and hours and hours put me off. Jerusalem closed on the day I had my second ticket to see Haunted Child and I decided that it was more important to see Haunted Child properly and with a fresh brain that could take it all in, then get up at the crack of dawn to day ticket Jerusalem and then go on to Haunted Child; that was too much even for someone with my energy levels!

And I knew I was seeing Mark in the Summer at the Globe in Twelfth Night and Richard III so I decided I was going to have to let this one go.

But recently I have been told that the a recording of the original production of Jerusalem is held at the V&A Theatre and Performance Archives at Blythe House and so I am going to go and see it there just as soon as I get a chance.

Yes buy the Simon Annand book!

It is so worth every penny of the £13 you would pay for it on Amazon. The images are stunning!

I just keep looking at it.

However, am I right in saying the Eddie image is not in the book?

The recent images eg Frankenstein, Season's Greetings, Jerusalem, are not in the book as the book was published a few years ago. Is that right?

Yes you are correct, those images are not in the book, but there are photo's of Mark Gatiss and Mark Rylance in there from other productions they've been in.

You have sold the book to me! I have bitten the bullet and have bought it off Amazon.

The book arrived yesterday. And I know what is going to make captivebird buy the book. The ALAN RICKMAN image is in the book! Yes and the quality of that photo in the book is STUNNING.

Edited at 2012-04-12 11:35 am (UTC)

Also, please revisit the post. I have just added in the Mark Rylance photo from Jerusalem!

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