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The Rose Theatre, Kingston opened in January 2008 to great acclaim, with a definitive production of Uncle Vanya, presented by English Touring Theatre, and directed by Peter Hall. The auditorium of the Rose takes its inspiration from the original Elizabethan Rose on London’s bankside (in which many of Shakespeare’s plays premiered).
"The theatre, which has been doggedly championed by Sir Peter Hall, is a palpable hit" Telegraph
The great circle at the heart of the Rose’s ground plan provides the template for everything the theatre does: all-embracing, accessible, warm-hearted, popular, serious, intelligent and stylish. The Rose aims to be a centre of excellence and a place of learning.
Productions of scenic simplicity and human scale embrace the particular features of the Rose's exceptional stage and auditorium, chacterised by an uncompromising emphasis on the centrality of language and the spoken word in all its forms.
The Rose Theatre, Kingston began as an idea in 1986 by local Councillors and residents of Kingston. The shell of the Rose 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 / 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 the Director of the Rose in 2003 and developed the vision for the theatre, which included an ambition for a resident ensemble repertoire theatre company. Peter Hall directed a short season in the unfinished auditoirum in 2004 which included As You Like It. This season, billed as the ‘In the Raw’ season, also included productions of Henry V and A Woman Killed with Kindness presented by Northern Broadsides, and a community play Don Juan in Kingston.
The Rose Theatre, Kingston opened its doors for the first time to the public on 16 January 2008 with a new production of Uncle Vanya, directed by Peter Hall, presented by English Touring Theatre and with a cast that included Nicholas Le Prevost, Neil Pearson and Ronald Pickup.
The auditorium of the Rose takes its inspiration from the original Elizabethan bankside playhouse of the same name. Seating across three levels in horse-shoe shape across three levels half surrounds a lozenge shaped stage, with cushion seats in front, creating a wonderful intimacy between audience and actors.
The initial ‘explooratory’ season at the Rose saw renowned national touring companies presenting week-long productions, which included English Touring Theatre’s Uncle Vanya, Tara Arts’ production of The Tempest, the UK tour premiere of Blackbird, the Birmingham Stage Company production of George’s Marvellous Medicine, Northern Broadsides’ Romeo and Juliet, Molora presented by Oxford Playhouse, and a new version of Moliere’s Tartuffe presented by Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse. Headlong Theatre’s The English Game, and a new version of Sophocoles’ Antigone, The Burial at Thebes, presented by Nottingham Playhouse, ended the initial season in June 2008. A series of one night events, including an ongoing monthly residency from The Comedy Store, and other comedy, music and dance events was also hosted over the initial 6 month period.
Stephen Unwin, former director of English Touring Theatre, took up the role of Artistic Director in 2008, and Peter Hall became Director Emeritus. David Jacobs, former Chair of the Board of Trustees to the Kingston Theatre Trust, was appointed Life President in 2008.
In Autumn 2008, The Peter Hall Company will present three productions, The Portrait of a Lady, A Doll’s House, and Born in the Gardens, as part of a seven week residency at the Rose. In October 2008, the Rose will present its first in-house production, Love’s Labour’s Lost, which will be directed by Peter Hall, and feature a cast including Peter Bowles.