The award-winning Althea Theatre (There’s No Place Like; One Last Thing (For Now)) return to London, following their US tour, with Jericho’s Rose. Writer and performer Lilac Yosiphon joined us to tell us more.

Jericho’s Rose is at The Hope Theatre 16th October to 3rd November 2018.

Jericho’s Rose is coming to The Hope Theatre, what can you tell us about it?

Jericho’s Rose explores the experience of displacement. My grandfather has a Jericho’s Rose on his left cheek. It’s a skin infection children suffer which leaves a scar which sometimes resembles a rose. He got it when he was raised in Baghdad, before moving to Tel Aviv, before moving to Paris. As his Alzheimer’s progressed, he started confusing where home is.

His journey suddenly paralleled with my own as I began to ask where I belong as an international theatre-maker living in London. What happens when we can’t find our sense of home in the memories we have or the country we live in? What happens when we need to develop a new sense of home but can’t? By paralleling experiences across generations and cultures, the play looks at belonging, the act of remembering and our need for home. It’s also about telling stories in a multi-disciplinary way so one medium challenges and completes another.

What inspired you to put immigration and Alzheimer’s together in this way?

I think it was the moment I realised how the question of home is shared between both those points of view and the experience of displacement could be looked at in a very meaningful way. By parallels the situations I want to believe we engage in a broader conversation about the residency of the body and the residency of the mind. How can we speak of one through the other and how do they shape our identity and interactions in the world?

How does it feel sharing a story that’s inspired by personal events?

That’s a good question. The truth is the feeling changes every day. Sometimes it’s quite uplifting – you see how the creative process surrounding these material transforms them to a world that belongs to everyone involved. Though there are elements in the show that were inspired by personal materials, the process of developing it over the last three years has embedded it with more layers which is very exciting. Other days it can be terrifying because it’s a vulnerable place. I’m very fortunate to be collaborating with an incredible group of creatives like Annie, Sam, Mike and Will, as well as everyone who’s been a part of Althea since we started the company. I feel very safe because I’m sharing that story with people I trust and who inspire me and that gives me the freedom to share it with audiences as well.

You’re writing, co-directing and performing with this production, how do you juggle all those different roles?

As best as I can! Each role always helps you learn more about the other. I’ve had the experience of writing and directing Althea’s work before with One Last Thing (For Now) and writing and performing in There’s No Place Like, but this time because of the nature of the play it made sense to everyone in the ensemble that I should perform in it. I wanted to make sure that there was an outside eye on it so Mike and Annie are co-directing and there’s a very open dialogue with everyone involved. In that sense, we’ve also been leading R&Ds for over six months now as well as performing a work in progress at the Migration Matters Festival in Sheffield.

We’ve been developing the work itself as well as how we work together and the interdisciplinary process has been fascinating. People’s unique expertise have really allowed them to lead various elements of the show like the music, projections or movement. Sometimes I get moments when I feel really run down, but it’s a privilege to be making my own work and to be able to share it with audiences.

Why is the Hope Theatre the right space for Jericho’s Rose?

Can there be a better place to present your work than at a theatre which has Hope as its name? The intimacy and the immediacy of the space allows for a very strong connection between the performer and the audience. Memory is partial and the moments of remembering in the show are told through a range of mediums. That richness is really powerful to share with audience in such close proximity. They hear how musical loops are connected, how images are formed on a screen as a part of a very honest encounter with the characters and their stories. We need the audience to complete these memories, to layer them with their own details while watching, to relate them to themselves. And that’s why the Hope is such a wonderful place for the show. We also hope this would be the start of a UK tour so we can engage with audiences outside of London next year too!

What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Jericho’s Rose?

Join us! We can’t wait to share this show with you. Whether it’s to hear the story of Jericho’s Rose or see how the show tells it in a way that celebrates the versatility of theatre – we hope to meet you soon and start a conversation.

Greg is an award-winning writer with a huge passion for theatre. He has appeared on stage, as well as having directed several plays in his native Scotland. Greg is the founder and editor of Theatre Weekly


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