History of the Rose
The idea of the Rose Theatre Kingston was conceived in 1986 by local Councillors and residents.
The shell was built by St George PLC as part of a planning agreement with the Royal Borough of Kingston for the Charter Quay residential and commercial development. The agreement did not include the completion or fit out of the venue. The architects Blundell, Thompson and Hargreaves were appointed in 2004 to further develop the original designs for the venue.
Sir Peter Hall became Artistic Director of the Rose in 2003 and developed the vision for the theatre, which included a resident ensemble repertoire theatre company. He directed a short season in the unfinished auditorium in 2004 which included As You Like It. This season, billed as the ‘In the Raw' season, also included productions by Northern Broadsides and a community play.
The completed theatre opened its doors for the first time to the public on 16 January 2008 with a new production of Uncle Vanya, directed by Sir Peter Hall, presented by English Touring Theatre.
Stephen Unwin, former director of English Touring Theatre, took up the role of Artistic Director in 2008, and Sir Peter Hall became Director Emeritus.
Rose Theatre Productions are at the heart of the Rose. The first, Love's Labour's Lost, directed by Sir Peter Hall, opened in October 2008. Subsequent Rose Theatre Productions have included Stephen Unwin’s production of Terence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy with Timothy West (seen on national tour). Sir Peter Hall’s revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce with Jane Asher and Nicholas Prevost (which later transferred to the West End) in repertoire with Miss Julie, Dumb Show by Joe Penhall, Noël Coward’s Hay Fever with Celia Imrie and Judi Dench in Sir Peter Hall’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In Spring 2011 the Rose worked with Kingston University on a new production of As You Like It and Jane Asher returned for Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest performed in rep with the premiere of Harley Granville-Barker’s Farewell to the Theatre.
Every Christmas the Rose produces a family show: A Christmas Carol (2008), Treasure Island (2009), a musical version of The Three Musketeers (2010) and The Snow Queen (2011).
The Rose has played host to a huge range of visiting companies: Headlong, English Touring Theatre, the Young Vic, Peter Brook, Bath Theatre Royal, Northern Broadsides, Filter, the Factory and dozens of others. It has also presented numerous one-night events, including concerts, comedy and cabaret.
The Rose has presented dozens of Time to Talks with eminent figures, including Sheila Hancock, Penelope Keith, Sir Peter Hall, Alan Bennett, Judi Dench, Timothy West, Gillian Anderson, Zoe Wanamaker, Michael Sheen and many others.
From its opening, the Rose has been committed to the widest possible programme of learning and participation (Rose Plus).