Rankin Launches Book Celebrating West End Theater


On Thursday, British photographer Rankin – whose subjects have included The Rolling Stones, Daniel Craig, David Bowie, Queen Elizabeth II, Jamie Foxx and Madonna – launches his latest project, “Performance by Rankin,” a book that celebrates London’s live-theater community as it emerges from the pandemic. It is accompanied by an exhibition in London.

At the event at London’s House of Photography, Rankin will be in conversation with Emma De Souza, head of marketing and communications at the Society of London Theatre, director Jamie Lloyd, and producer and theater owner Nica Burns. The discussion will be followed by a book signing.

The 120-page book and exhibition, which runs until Jan. 31, feature portraits of select cast and crew from West End shows. Among Rankin’s 150 subjects were actors, dancers, writers, directors, producers, stage managers, dressers, designers, technicians, pit musicians, puppeteers, front-of-house staff, and stage-door keepers from nearly 60 of London’s top productions. Interwoven with the portraits, the subjects reflect on their experience of the past 18 months.

Rankin commented: “When we started this project I tried to understand why the lack of live theater over the last year had meant so much to me. Why I had felt such a personal loss. Then I realized. Theater, like the photography I practice, is a team sport. It does not happen alone and it is a home of true collaboration. Theaters closing lined up with when my studio fell quiet, my team taken away. I felt the loss of theater 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.”

He added: “Taking pictures for this new project, the joy that every single subject brought to the sessions was like breath of fresh air, rejuvenating my energy for what I do, as well as giving everyone a chance to perform again, albeit 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.”

All profits from the book go to the Theatre Artists Fund and a selection of youth homelessness charities.

Jarneia Richard-Noel, Alexia McIntosh and Natalie Paris from “Six” at the Vaudeville Theatre
Courtesy of Rankin

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