Leading Ladies - Jane Hobson

London, UK. 12.12.2013. Tanya Moodie, actor, at RADA, where she trained and is now on the audition panel for new students. Photograph (c) Jane Hobson.

Leading Ladies

The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of, well, one thing really. Leading Ladies.

It all seemed a bit premature to start writing about it before I had anything to show for the project. I needed to put my camera where my mouth was first.

So that’s what I’ve been doing over the last year. And now we are well and truly into the new year, and it is all a downward slide to my fiftieth (how did that happen?!) I wanted to ramp up the momentum on the project.

You see, I’d like to launch it on my fiftieth birthday. January 2015. Well, it would certainly take my mind off the more negative aspects!

11 months is not so long to get the rest of the project shot, raise funding to exhibit and publish, generate PR, produce the exhibition etc. I’d better get going then!

So then, what is it? (I hear you ask).

Oh all right then. This is the introduction that I have been sending to my prospective subjects, to explain briefly about the project.

Leading Ladies: celebrating the careers and achievements of women in the performing arts.
A personal project by Jane Hobson, photographer.

Women are underrepresented in the performing arts, both on and offstage. Yet there are many amazing women working in the industry, across all areas – actors, directors, producers, lighting designers, choreographers, dancers, writers, set and costume designers, sound designers, stage managers, company managers, artistic directors, musical directors, etc, etc. Visibility, as well as representation, is an issue.

Through my photographic work, I want to celebrate the work these amazing women do, and their achievements, despite the inequities, and to raise awareness of underrepresentation as an issue, stimulating debate on why such sexism is still apparent today, decades after legislation on gender equality.

By photographing women in the performing arts in their environments, whether personal or professional, their strengths, personalities and careers will be highlighted. A short biographical text will accompany the photographs, to add context, written by the Leading Ladies themselves.

The intended outcomes are a book, an exhibition and a feature/features. The recent articles in the broadsheets highlights that there is media interest in this area.

I didn’t know what I’d started when I commenced the project! I had obviously hit a nerve.

There is such strength of feeling about the topic that my existing network of women I had met, and worked with via production shoots and press photocalls, expanded rapidly, as one Leading Lady introduced me to many more.

As such, the project has grown organically, and now needs some deliberate planning of job roles to add balance across the sectors.

So far, there are thirteen Leading Ladies in the gallery, with a further 12 who have agreed and are yet to have their shoots scheduled. I also have a wish list of other women, in varying roles, whom I should love to include.

So, Dear Reader, what I should like from you are introductions to fabulous females in such roles as: musical director, sound designer, sound engineer, stage management, props design, set and costume design, stage crew/fly’man’, choreographer/movement director (all genres), opera (all roles), conductor, management. All career and life stages. I want to reflect us, in all our glorious diversity.

Of course, it’s not just the photography that I could do with assistance on, in fact, that’s the easy bit! It’s making the exhibition and book happen. All offers of assistance in the form of a venue, contacts, sponsorship and funding gratefully received!

I want this whole project to culminate in a wonderful celebration of the work of all women in the performing arts. And to also act as catalyst for change and inspiration.

It’s not about me. It’s about you.

Link to Leading Ladies galleries is here: http://janehobson.photoshelter.com/gallery/Leading-Ladies-Project/G0000S...

(c) Jane Hobson 2014

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