Stage and screen actress Maureen Lipman stars in an online revival of Martin Sherman’s Rose this week. The new production has been filmed and will be made available to download and stream online for three days only, in collaboration with the Hope Mill Theatre.
This powerful one-woman tour-de-force by Martin Sherman (Bent, 1979) was nominated for an Olivier when it first premiered at the National Theatre in 1999. This new production, directed by Scott Le Crass (Country Music, Omnibus Theatre; Elmer, UK and International tour), in close collaboration with Sherman, is a moving reminder of some of the harrowing events that shaped the century. It remains sadly relevant today as racial tensions escalate, and allegations of antisemitism are rife.
Rose by Martin Sherman will stream 10th – 12th September, tickets are on sale here.
Your play Rose has been filmed to be streamed by Hope Mill Theatre, what can you tell us about the play it and what inspired you to write it?
The millennium was approaching and I wanted to look at what the Jewish experience had been in the twentieth century.
But I did not want to write an epic. I would attempt it through the eyes of one woman.
Why do you think it remains so relevant today?
Displacement sadly is a contemporary concern. Refugees are a constant humanitarian problem that many countries basically refuse to deal with. One need only look at the desperate turmoil in Lesbos at the moment that’s been caused by Europe’s refusal to help Greece properly care for and intelligently cope with a mighty influx of people who must flee their home countries.
That’s a situation Rose found herself in. She was fortunate that she could ultimately relocate. The play also touches on Israel and its West Bank policy, which is no nearer solution today than twenty years ago; if anything, the situation has regressed. It would be wonderful if the social and political problems surrounding Rose were solved and settled thus forcing the play to be obsolete; but contemporary events unfortunately insist on keeping the play as timely as ever.
Did you even intend for it to be revived, and did you ever envisage it as a piece of online theatre?
No one wants to write a disposable play. I think all playwrights hope their work will be revived. And, as an extra bonus, revived in our lifetimes! I could not imagine Rose online when I wrote it because there was no online.
Do you think online theatre is here to stay?
I think online theatre is brilliant as long as it is a supplement to live theatre. Nothing can supplant the power of a play in front of an audience. That can’t be overstated; we are in danger of losing just that. The theatre is in a monumental crisis, Online theatre helps us remember what we are in danger of losing. And it provides a record of productions and performances that would otherwise be lost. And, at the moment, it is both holding the fort and feeding our souls.
How involved have you been with this production?
I actually have not been a close collaborator on this production. I met with Maureen Lipman and the director, Scott Le Crass, a few times and edited the text a bit, but basically, because I trust them, I’ve left them to it.
What do you think Maureen Lipman brings to the role made famous by Olympia Dukakis?
Rose has been played by many extraordinary, strong actresses throughout the world, and they each bring the stamp of their own personality. I originally wrote the play for Maureen, who is a brilliant actress, but circumstances prevented our doing it together, so I am thrilled that at last it’s happening.
What would you say to anyone thinking of buying a ticket for the stream of Rose?
I’m delighted that you are thinking of purchasing a ticket, not least because it helps sustain an excellent theatre, the Hope Mill. And I hope it provides an entertaining and provoking experience for you.