Rare and unseen photographs of famous actors backstage in the half-hour before showtime

Phoebe Waller Bridge, Rope, 2009, The Almeida © Simon Annand. All images courtesy of the artist. Via CB submission.

World-renowned photographer Simon Annand is unveiling rare images of the privacy actors experience backstage in the half-hour before performing on stage – the intense transformation from everyday life that is completely hidden from the audience.

The photographs will go on display for The Half, a major exhibition at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, opening on 7 September.

One of the UK’s leading portrait photographers who has photographed the most recognisable faces of the stage, including Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, Daniel Craig and Jude Law, Annand will showcase 74 photographs that have never been seen before of stars such as David Tennant, Helen Mirren, Lily James, Stephen Fry and more. Captured right at the beginning of their careers, these actors and actresses have gone on to play the most famous theatres.

From the National Theatre to the Royal Court, and further afield to Moscow Arts Theatre and the Comédie Française, Annand’s reputation for capturing honest and diverse moments on stage has enabled him to gain unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the world’s most prestigious venues.

The show, which runs until next February, will feature his most iconic images of the godfathers and female stars of British theatre, including photos of Simon Callow, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Colin Firth as well as Maggie Smith, Lenny Henry and Priscilla Presley.

Over 35 years these photographs serve as real documents for the evolving careers and unseen moments that those on the other side of the curtain don’t ever consider. "The 35 minutes before curtain up is a private time and the access that has been granted is exceptional," says Annand. "Unlike the preparation for an actor on a film set, where there are extended periods of waiting to be called, the theatre demands that he or she be ready at a fixed time and this is repeated each day. There is no escape and the discipline required is intense."

Simon Annand: The Half will launch at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield on 7 September and run until 1 February 2020.

Colin Firth © Simon Annand

Colin Firth © Simon Annand

Jude Law © Simon Annand

Jude Law © Simon Annand

David Tennant, The Rivals, 2002, RSC © Simon Annand

David Tennant, The Rivals, 2002, RSC © Simon Annand

Sheila Atim, Girl From the North Country, 2018, Old Vic Theatre © Simon Annand

Sheila Atim, Girl From the North Country, 2018, Old Vic Theatre © Simon Annand

Cate Blanchett © Simon Annand

Cate Blanchett © Simon Annand

Meera Syal, Annie, 2018, Piccadilly Theatre © Simon Annand

Meera Syal, Annie, 2018, Piccadilly Theatre © Simon Annand