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Simon Annand’s Portraits of Actors Backstage

Time To Act: An Intimate Photographic Portrait of Actors Backstage is a book by photographer Simon Annand of actors during the minutes as they prepare to go on stage. Some of those images can now be seen in a virtual exhibition. Annand has been shooting photographs backstage at West End theatres for 35 years. In these meditative portraits, often shot in the intimate space of the dressing room, he witnesses the focus and tension of world-class actors in the moments before they go on the stage.

The thrilling experience of seeing actors live on stage is under threat during the present Covid restrictions. This new book reminds us of what we are missing while theatres are closed. Through the eyes of this legendary photographer we observe how performers get ready to astonish their audiences.

A virtual exhibition was launched to celebrate the publication of Time To Act, showcasing selected images from the book. Many of the photographs, in small editions, are for sale, including those of: Simon Callow, Sharon D Clarke, Kit Harington, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Rylance, Annabel Scholey,  Josette Simon and Layton Williams.

Simon Callow receives his copy

The exhibition will be regularly re-hung to show a changing selection of photographs from the collection together with a commentary on the images.

Because the first UK edition of the Time To Act has now sold out, a reprint is underway to ensure delivery well in time for Christmas. The publishers are making a donation from the sale of every book in the UK to The Theatre Artists Fund.

Julian Bird, CEO SOLT, said: “We are delighted that £1 from every sale of Simon Annand’s new book Time To Act will be donated to The Theatre Artists Fund. We must continue to support the freelance workforce who contribute so much to the theatre industry in this time of crisis.”

“It is as difficult to capture actors and creative teams in unselfconscious action as it is to arrest birds in flight, but there lies Simon’s skill.”  Cate Blanchett
“Simon Annand is one of the most amazing photographers I have had the pleasure of working with. He is an individualist with an eye for the unusual.”  Dame Judi Dench

With an introduction by Cate Blanchett, Time To Act continues to explore the moments of vulnerability that every actor experiences before they go onto stage no matter how long they have been working. Amongst the over 230 images are insightful portraits of Gillian Anderson, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sharon D Clark, Paapa Essiedu, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lenny Henry, Anthony Hopkins, Andrew Scott, Josette Simon, and Judi Dench.

Details for buying the book and viewing the exhibition:


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