A FOUR YEAR OLD!
Posted on Wed 25 Jan 2012 by Stephen Unwin
We’ve recently (January 16th) celebrated our fourth birthday. Nobody who was in the Rose on the momentous opening night – when a round of applause greeted the actors in Uncle Vanya as they walked on to the stage at the beginning of the show – will easily forget the mood of elation and relief that ran round the auditorium. And now four years later – amazingly – we’re still here, still learning, still growing and, we hope, still giving the people of Kingston and the region the very best in theatre, music, youth arts, comedy and so on. Like any healthy four year old there are occasional tears and tantrums but, on balance, the place is getting stronger all the time.
As we totter into reception class (did I tell you that I have a three and a half year old of my own?) things are changing fast. Our brilliant Executive Director, David Fletcher, has signalled that it’s time for him to move on, and I’m thrilled that Robert O’Dowd is taking up the position of Chief Executive this month: it’s a terrific appointment and he’s already making great strides. I’ll persuade him to write a blog soon.
Meanwhile, I’m deep in preparation for The Lady from the Sea. I love Ibsen: I think he’s the great dramatist of the modern world, and I joyfully provoke Chekhovians by saying in a loud voice that he’s the second greatest playwright in the world (after Shakespeare, of course). It’ll be the sixth Ibsen play I’ve directed (A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, Ghosts, The Master Builder and John Gabriel Borkman all for English Touring Theatre) and I can’t wait to start.
As well as making sure that all the right creative decisions are being made, I’m also fine-tuning my translation. I’ve found a young director (Anna Ostergren) to work as my assistant and, guess what, she speaks fluent Norwegian! Taking on a play like this, with such a tremendous cast, is a big old challenge, and I’ve learnt the hard way that preparation is everything.
I’ve also been working on the rest of the programme for 2012. We’re announcing today a new Rose Theatre production in April of Michael Frayn’s brilliant, bitter-sweet comedy Here. And we’ve got all sorts of treats in store for the Autumn and beyond.
My book of the month is Claire Tomalin’s new biography of Dickens: fantastically interesting, it helps us see the great novelist as much more than the hearty Victorian mince-pie eating gent of the cliché. And I went to see Michael Sheen’s Hamlet at the Young Vic. A phenomenal performance. He came to the Rose and gave a fantastic Time to Talk.
On our fourth birthday I think we can say that the Rose is in really good health. The Snow Queen was a huge success and nearly twenty thousand people came to see it. And, whatever you do, don’t miss The Lady from the Sea. I’ve got a good feeling about 2012: this four year old is growing up fast.