Performance by Rankin

11 December 2021

With London’s theatreland now coming back to life after a long 2020 and 2021, there’s never been a better time to rediscover Britain’s amazing theatre scene.

PERFORMANCE BY RANKIN is an exhibition and book celebrating the enormous talent and resilience of London’s theatreland, the cultural heart of the city, as it emerges from a devastating pandemic shutdown. This free exhibition runs until 31 January at the FUJIFILM House of Photography on Long Acre, Covent Garden.

The exhibition has been created in partnership with Official London Theatre and FUJIFILM House of Photography, thanks to funding from the Mayor of London, as part of their Let’s Do London campaign. In this ambitious project, world-renowned photographer Rankin has captured the human face of London’s world leading theatre industry.

Emmie Ray & Carl Man, Ensemble Members in Wicked
Emmie Ray & Carl Man, Ensemble Members in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

From star actors, dancers, writers, directors and producers to stage managers, dressers, designers, technicians, pit musicians, puppeteers, front of house staff, stage door keepers and countless more, Rankin captures a once-in-a-lifetime portrait of a West End reborn, featuring 150 subjects from nearly 60 of London’s top productions and venues.

When you’re exploring the exhibition, you can follow a guide to the portraits and click through to read about how each person coped during the pandemic, and what it feels like to be back on stage.

Charlie Stemp ('Bert') and Zizi Strallen ('Mary Poppins')
Charlie Stemp ('Bert') and Zizi Strallen ('Mary Poppins') in Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre

“Theatre is the beating heart of London’s cultural scene. It is what draws people to the West End and allows all of us to escape into another world or narrative for a few hours. As people we need to entertain and be entertained. It helps us feel things, to connect to laugh, cry and everything in between.” – Rankin

“We hope these extraordinary images will inspire you to support the theatre industry in the most effective possible way - by buying tickets to see a show! Our theatres are open, delighted to be #BackOnStage and ready to welcome you through their doors again.” - Society Of London Theatre

“From our galleries to our theatres and museums, London’s cultural sector has had an incredibly difficult 18 months. This once-in-a-lifetime portrait of the West End, showcases the incredible talent that comes together to make our theatres the envy of the world.” - Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Proceeds from the exhibition will go to the Theatre Artists Fund and the Mayor’s youth homelessness charities. The Theatre Artists Fund provides emergency financial aid to struggling theatre freelancers, and was created for those in need of urgent and critical financial support due to the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the theatre sector. The four London youth homelessness charities selected by the Mayor of London are Depaul, akt, Centrepoint and New Horizons Youth Centre.

Aisha Jawando, 'Tina Turner'
Aisha Jawando, 'Tina Turner' in Tina - The Tina Turner Musical at the Aldwych Theatre

A book of the portraits is also available to buy, with proceeds going to the chosen charities. Books can be purchased at the exhibition and from a variety of bookshops.

Rankin said: “Everyone working in theatre has a story to tell of their experience over the past eighteen 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.”

The exhibition is free to enter and is a must-see for any theatre fan visiting the West End this Christmas. We hope this ambitious project inspires you to see a show.

Shows and venues involved in PERFORMANCE include: & Juliet, the Almeida Theatre, Anything Goes, Back To The Future The Musical, the Barbican, The Book of Mormon, Bush Theatre, CabaretThe Choir Of Man, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, Come From Away, Dear Evan Hansen, the Donmar Warehouse, The Drifters Girl, English National Opera, Disney's Frozen, Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical, Hamilton, Hampstead Theatre, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, Heathers The Musical, Jersey Boys, Kiln Theatre, LeopoldstadtLife Of PiDisney's The Lion King, the Lyric Hammersmith, Magic Goes Wrong, Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, Matilda The Musical, The Mirror And The LightLes MisérablesMoulin Rouge! The Musical, The Mousetrap, the National Theatre, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, The Old Vic, Only Fools And Horses The Musical, The Phantom Of The Opera, The Play That Goes WrongPretty Woman The Musical, Pride And Prejudice* (*sort of)The Prince Of Egypt, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, the Royal Court Theatre, the Royal Opera House, Sadler's Wells, Shakespeare's Globe, The Shark Is Broken, Six, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Tina – The Tina Turner MusicalVanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Wicked, Witness For The Prosecution, The Woman In Black, the Young Vic

Getting to the exhibition

Getting to PERFORMANCE BY RANKIN is easy – Covent Garden is just a 20 minute walk from London Waterloo – or jump on the Northern line to Leicester Square.