I've been a hopeless blogger…
Posted on Thu 4 Oct 2012 by Stephen Unwin
My only excuse is that I’ve been very busy. Directing Pinero’s The Second Mrs Tanqueray has been a real joy. It’s a remarkable play and it’s been a real privilege to do the first revival for thirty years of a play that once took London by storm. And I’ve got a terrific cast: not just James Wilby and the divine Laura Michelle Kelly, but tremendously experienced actors like Jessica Turner, Joe Alessi and David Whitworth, as well as exciting young talents like Rona Morison and Adam Jackson-Smith. Last night was the Guest Night; on Friday we have the Press in. Who knows what they’ll make of it. But it’s going down very well so far, and I’ve been particularly touched to see young audiences enjoying it so much. I’ve sometimes been criticised (usually by people over the age of 40!) for doing too many ‘boring costume dramas’, and so it’s hugely gratifying watching young people seeing past the frocks to the psychological and social drama that lies beneath. Intriguingly, it’s part of a revival of interest in Pinero: the National are reviving The Magistrate this Autumn and the Donmar are staging Trelawney of the ‘Wells’ in the Spring.
We’ve just announced our new season, which includes three Rose Theatre Productions. I’ve asked Rachel Kavanaugh to direct Cinderella The Midnight Princess at Christmas. She’s a very experienced director (for several years Artistic Director of the Birmingham Rep) and casting is about to be announced. Then, in the early Spring, I’m directing Noël Coward’s amazing shocker, The Vortex. And that’s followed by a brilliant, once again shocking, black comedy, Smack Family Robinson, from the award-winning Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guv’nors), to be directed by the much-loved actor and director Richard Wilson. Both plays are linked by a common theme — you could call it the ‘drugs season’ — and are pretty provocative. We’ve also announced the return of Propeller and Northern Broadsides — two of our favourite companies. And a whole range of one nighters, talks and events. And all the while we’ve been touring our school’s production of Othello.
I really hope you like our new look brochure: we wanted to sharpen up our image, but also celebrate our amazing location, at the heart of one of the most amazingly diverse and culturally lively areas in Britain. I often walk along the river and I realize just how lucky I am to be the Artistic Director not just of an amazing theatre, but one which is in a beautiful and fortunate place.
I’m thrilled that Kingston University has appointed the great Shakespearean scholar Richard Wilson as their new professor: he’s a powerhouse of ideas, a brilliant brain and we’re cooking up some interesting plans together.
Meanwhile, my reading is spinning out of control: the latest is John Abulafia’s amazing history of the Mediterranean. I’ve seen some theatre: Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic and The Sacred Flame here at the Rose. And I’ve loved Bob Dylan’s new album, the Shakespearean sounding Tempest. But for the last few weeks I’ve been head down into The Second Mrs Tanqueray.
Finally, I had a huge and overwhelming response to my article in The Guardian about my son, Joey, who has a profound learning disability. It made me even more determined to ensure that the doors of the Rose are open to anybody, wherever they come from, and whatever their abilities.