The Half – the in between world the audience never sees

“A single moment, captured in time” became Simon Annand’s inspiration for a now 28 year old project, begun as a boy on his first holiday abroad.

At the behest of this young boy, a stranger gladly photographed the holidaying family “marking the moment”. The result of this initial foray is, many years later, a collection of profound theatrical culture, beautifully shot.

The first subject in this stunning collection known as ‘The Half’ was encapsulated while Simon was working in the bar at the Lyric Theatre. Griff Rhys Jones was starring in a production of Charley’s Aunt when Simon asked for permission to take some photos. An ebullient character on stage, Rhys-Jones was more introverted and melancholy off it.

It was the start of a journey giving Simon unprecedented access to the greatest actors in solitude and capturing the different energy felt in the dressing room; the audience is exposed only to the character the actor wishes them to see: “They bring in with them what they’re thinking and feeling that day.”

According to Simon, every person is in the collection for a reason: to reflect what’s happening in theatre, be it in the West End or on the fringes. This short film, commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum to accompany the exhibition, provides insights into the tensions and personal rituals they undertake on a nightly basis.

‘The Half’ is a theatrical term for the tense 35 minutes actors endure in their dressing room before ‘Curtain Up’. With the backstage area cleared of all but cast and crew, Simon’s photographs offer the audience a rare glimpse at the actors preparing to step into someone else’s shoes. Find out more about him here.

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