Welcome to Rose Plus
Posted on Thu 8 Dec 2011 by Ciaran McConville
At long last, a shiny, sparkling new website!
This blog will celebrate the fabulous work done by our Rose Plus groups and hopefully encourage you to help shape the future of this theatre.
The Rose is still young and finding its place in our community. If it is to thrive, it has to be more than a theatre. We have to make this place a cultural centre, not just for Kingston, but for the whole of London and Surrey.
One of the things I love about the building itself is that we don’t really have a backstage. In a funny way, that sort of reflects the ethos of Rose Plus: it’s a shared space, a place to explore everything that theatre can be, make self-discoveries, meet new friends and challenge yourself to do things you didn’t think were possible.
As the first British theatre to be built in the twenty-first century, we must be pioneers. Rather than just catering to middle-class theatre goers (although please keep coming, we love you too!) we must find ways to embrace those who feel alienated by the arts, those searching for their community in Kingston, and especially those who want to find a voice with which to shout.
Let me tell you about our current Rose Plus groups.
Rose Youth Theatre comprises 86 young people, aged 11-17, who meet in small classes every weekend. Since I took over RYT last year we have performed 13 plays. I am constantly bowled over by the talent, generosity and capacity of our students. In addition to our weekly classes, we offer more intensive courses; a performance-oriented summer school and vocational training in our Rose Plus Academy.
Our adult groups are similarly prolific. Versophiles, a company of about forty actors with varying experience, meets once a month to explore and perform a Shakespeare play.
Rose Plus Players work through a more structured twelve-week course, investigating the practice of seminal drama theorists with the goal of performing a play at the end of each term.
Rose Plus Playwriting students run the whole gamut of writing a stage script, from concept to rehearsal and production.
Rose Plus Choir meets three or four times a year to rehearse and perform a main-stage concert in the space of a day. Rehearsals are enormous fun, if somewhat exhausting, and the energy and standard of the evening concert is breathtaking.
Where possible, I try and bring the Rose Plus groups together for individual events. Over the last year we have had a number of ‘Poetry Parties’, a sort of rehearsed open-mic night for our community actors. They’re great fun (a little scary at times) and help create what I want Rose Plus to be; a community of theatre practitioners, of all ages and backgrounds, enjoying the space and resources that this theatre can offer.
So, that’s some background on the Rose Plus groups. You can email me or phone me if you want to find out more.
Our big Rose Plus production this year is of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, The Crucible. I’ve read it half-a-dozen times since we decided to stage it, and I’m moved to tears every time. It is such an astonishing piece: exhausting, difficult and hugely engaging. We have a strong cast and I want to do it (and our actors) justice over the next few months.
I’m programming a host of events around The Lady from the Sea. It’s a real opportunity to get people excited about Ibsen, particularly those poor young students who only associate his work with essay-deadlines and box-ticking analysis. His influence on contemporary writers and theatre is immeasurable. And the questions he poses are as relevant to modern life as they were in the nineteenth century. Keep an eye on our website for Ibsen workshops, talks, performances and events.
Enough shouting by me.
What I don’t want this blog to be is another marketing tool. For a start, I’m not a marketeer (although I sit next to them in the office, so I speak the lingo). Secondly, we’ve got enough enticing pictures and sales copy on this website already.
Rather, I hope this blog will encourage you to take ownership over Rose Plus. It’s your theatre. And I’m talking not just to Kingstonians, but to anyone who loves plays and performance. Rose Plus should evolve to reflect the kind of theatre you want it to be. Which means your input! Please post your ideas, responses and suggestions.
Technology allowing, I will publish photos of Rose Plus events and participants. I’ll also give my thoughts, for what they’re worth, about how things are going.
I look forward to hearing from you.