Jude Law, Wyndham's Theatre, Hamlet, 2009. mediadrumworld.com / Simon Annand

By Kate Harrold


A BRIT PHOTOGRAPHER has revealed rare behind the scenes pictures of A-listers just minutes before the taking to the stage in a new book.

In one image, a blood-soaked Cate Blanchett stared intensely into a mirror minutes before a production of The Present at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York, USA, in 2017.

In another, Jude Law looked to a photo of Fred Astaire to lighten the mood before taking on the titular role of Hamlet at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End in 2009.

Olivia Colman, Noel Coward Theatre, Hay Fever, 2012. mediadrumworld.com / Simon Annand

Other images featured the likes of Olivia Coleman prior to a performance of Hay Fever at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2012 and Orlando Bloom getting in costume for In Celebration at The Duke of York’s Theatre in 2007 – both located in London, UK.

During a time in which live theatre is temporarily extinct, photographer Simon Annand (65) from Berkshire, UK, lifts the curtain in his latest book Time to Act – offering a glimpse into those crucial 30 minutes before act one begins.

With 37-years’ worth of experience in the industry, Simon has become a fly on the wall in the dressing rooms of many a household name including Academy Award winners Cate Blanchett and Olivia Coleman.

Cate Blanchett, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, The Present, 2017. mediadrumworld.com / Simon Annand

“Each actor has their own way of spending the thirty minutes before curtain-up,” Simon said.

“A photographer must trust his subject. It is the relationship a person has with themselves inside their own head that makes them photogenic.

“With an actor about to go on stage, there is also their relationship with a fictional character which makes the psychological exchange between them particularly interesting.

Orlando Bloom, Duke of York’s, In celebration, 2007. mediadrumworld.com / Simon Annand

“One of the central principles in the book has been to avoid the tendency to make an actor look like ‘an actor.’

“It is the journey that actors embark on that is fascinating, not the fact that they are actors.”

The book’s release is particularly poignant given the current closure of the theatre industry both in the UK and worldwide – an idea discussed in Time to Act’s foreword.

Sheridan Smith, Theatre Royal Haymarket, Flare Path, 2011. mediadrumworld.com / Simon Annand

“I find it impossible not to love the people who create this world of such extreme highs and lows,” Peter Wilson, acclaimed theatre producer, said.

“We couldn’t have known how Simon’s photographs would [become] permanent records of a world that may, I fear, never again exist so exuberantly.”

Published by Lannoo Publishers, Simon Annand’s Time to Act is available for purchase now.