The creation of the Rose Theatre Kingston was not easy. When Sir Peter Hall first had the vision of a new theatre in Kingston his first hurdle was not receiving much-needed funding from the Arts Council. When their first production opened – As You Like It – starring Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), they still had temporary seating, no doors to the auditorium and Portaloos.
Facilities have improved since then and the Rose Theatre now celebrates 10 years of great performances. Judi Dench, Jane Asher, Tim West, Celia Imrie and Jolie Richardson are among the actors who have graced the stage.
Kingston was once seen as just a day-time shopping centre, but the theatre has changed that, says the theatre’s executive producer Jerry Gunn: ‘It has brought a cultural balance to the area, a reason for people to come in the evening. Kingston has changed culturally since the theatre opened.’
Attracting big names is important for the future of the Rose Theatre, says Jerry: ‘With so many theatres in London the play itself is the most important, but good casting does draw in the crowds. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, starring Judi Dench helped to put the Rose on the map.’
So what vision does he and advisory associate director, Sir Trevor Nunn, have for future decades of the theatre? ‘To produce quality, world class theatre for the local area.’
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