Rankin to document resilience of West End theatres in photo project

·3-min read

Rankin has launched a photography project documenting the “hardship, perseverance, patience, innovation, despair and joy” of West End theatres as they emerge from lockdown.

The celebrity photographer, 55, will shoot as many as 200 subjects from a number of productions and theatres in central London, including actors, dancers, writers, directors and producers through to costume, sound, lighting and set designers.

Among the productions taking part are Back To The Future The Musical, The Book Of Mormon, Disney’s Frozen, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, Les Miserables and Mamma Mia!

Karl Queensborough as Hamilton in Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre (Rankin/PA)
Karl Queensborough as Hamilton in Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre (Rankin/PA)

Titled Performance, RankinLIVE x West End Theatre, the project is a collaboration between Rankin, the Mayor of London and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT).

An exhibition of the portraits will run from November 3 2021 to January 31 2022 at the FujiFilm House of Photography in London’s West End.

Edited behind-the-scenes films of the shoots will also be shared on digital and social platforms.

Rankin said: “Everyone working in theatre has a story to tell of their experience over the past 18 months, inspiring tales of hardship, perseverance, patience, innovation, despair and joy.

“With this project and exhibition, we want to celebrate the jewel in the crown of our city’s unparalleled culture sector – epitomised by these countless faces and voices who make up the backbone of London’s theatre community and will spearhead its post-Covid recovery.

Rankin takes a portrait picture of Tom Bennett in character as Del Boy
Rankin takes a portrait picture of Tom Bennett in character as Del Boy from the Only Fools and Horses musical (Victoria Jones/PA)

“I honestly can’t remember the last time that I’ve seen so many different organisations come together so quickly around an idea – from the Mayor of London and SOLT offering their practical and logistical support; FujiFilm offering their flagship store for an entire season; Westminster Council and the central London landlords offering empty units; the production companies and theatres offering their stars and staff; all the way through to the suppliers like Addison Lee assisting with the nuts and bolts of transportation.

“These are all reminders of just how important theatre and culture is to us as a society.”

Performance is part of the Mayor of London’s Let’s Do London domestic tourism campaign, which aims to attract visitors from across the UK to the capital’s attractions.

Josie Benson as Tanya in Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre (Rankin/PA)
Josie Benson as Tanya in Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre (Rankin/PA)

The exhibition will raise money to support young Londoners facing homelessness through charities including Depaul and Centrepoint, as well as the Theatre Artists Fund, which provides emergency aid to struggling theatre freelancers.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I’m thrilled to support this exciting project by Rankin.

“From our galleries to our theatres, London’s cultural sector has had an incredibly difficult 18 months.

“This once-in-a-lifetime portrait of the West End will showcase the incredible talent that comes together to make our theatres the envy of the world, providing another reason to visit central London and supporting the vital work of youth homeless charities.”

London’s West End is returning to normal business after 18 months of closures.

Recent months have seen flagship shows such as Lion King and Les Miserables reopen, after closing their doors in March 2020.

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