Actor in rehearsal
Acrylic on canvas
91cm x 183cm
36" x 72"

In 1994 Manchester was designated the Arts Council's City of Drama. I became involved in recording some of the various theatrical manifestations that took place as part of this event.
I worked with the Royal Exchange theatre company, Contact Theatre, the NIA Centre and Manchester Metropolitan University and concentrated not only on the final performances but on every aspect of the preparations, being particularly drawn to those moments when the actors were warming up for the performance, conscious and unconscious movements and gestures, when the public and private aspects of the actors were most apparent.
The Narrator, Threepenny Opera
Contact Theatre 1994
Having spent time in the enclosed worlds of hospitals and prisons where very real and dramatic situations were the norm, here was a world in which the real and artificial were inevitably intertwined. A place of high emotional and dramatic intensity; the energy of the rehearsal room with its moments of release and control, the juxtaposition of spontaneous actions and strictly controlled ones was a continual source of inspiration to me. 

Dancer stretching 1997
Oil on board
30cm x 23cm
12" x 9"

Dancers embracing (red) 1998
Oil on canvas
50" x 40"
127cm x 102cm

Actors embracing (blue) 1995
Oil on canvas
50" x 40"
127 x 102 cm

Women of Troy 1995
Acrylic on canvas
24" x20"
61cm x 51cm

The finished work was exhibited at the British Council and as a result of my involvement with director Annie Castledine I was invited to record her production of Women of Troy at the Royal National Theatre in 1995.

Movement rehearsal, National Theatre
Oil on canvas
30" x 24"
76cm x 61cm

Dancer stretching 1996
Oil on canvas
30" x 24"
76cm x 61cm

Dancer in rehearsal
Oil on canvas
36" x 24"
91cm x 61cm

Dancer in rehearsal
Acrylic on canvas
24" x 18"
61cm x 46cm
The experiences of the high artifice of theatrical performance and the reality of the preparations for final production paralleled in a curious way the atmosphere of the hospital and prison. There, too, the grouping of people drawn together for shorter or longer periods of time led to intense personal relationships of particular kinds. The willed or unwilled expression of physical and emotional energies and the subsequent dependencies and interactions between individuals all fuelled my imagination and fed into my growing concern to develop my ideas for the Stations of the Cross paintings and drawings. 
Ghislaine Howard

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