The show must go on: Kingston’s Rose Theatre is reopening Covid-secure

Kingston’s Rose Theatre is reopening with Covid-secure shows this week, despite Tier 2 restrictions. 

After closing its doors on 17 March, the largest producing theatre in south west London is reopening to the public on 28 October. 

The Rose Theatre will be following government performing arts guidelines, with staggered arrivals through two entrances, temperature checks, contactless payments, social distancing, face coverings to be worn throughout the theatre, and ticket exchange or refund offered up to 24 hours before the show. 

The shows on offer are one man/woman shows, and have been reconfigured to work with social distancing, or use actors already in a household. 

Chief executive of the Rose Theatre Robert O’Dowd said: “We are set up in a way that is so secure we should still be able to open even in Tier 3.” 

Educating Rita will run 28 October to 14 November, Woke will run 16 November to 18 November, and the Christmas show, Stick Man, will run 10 December to 3 January. 

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There are various other shows, comedy nights, and more running in the next few months.  

The Rose is a producing theatre, but is only taking received work at the moment because the cost of producing is too high. 

The auditorium is at 42% capacity, seating approximately 350 people depending on the size of households, since Tier 2 restrictions in London mean households cannot mix indoors, including in a theatre. 

The Rose Theatre is working with theatre-goers to split up mixed household groups who had already made a booking. 

Theatre-goers will also only be able to order refreshments to their seat through an app, but hot drinks won’t be on offer and wine will be in cans. 

The Rose Theatre is lucky to be able to seat so many compared to other venues, thanks to its spacious, semi-round configuration. 

The Rose Theatre Kingston
RETURN TO THE ROSE: The largest producing theatre in south west London reopens

O’Dowd was impressed with the ‘loyalty’ and ‘extraordinary’ support from the public in the last seven months. 

O’Dowd said customers made surprisingly few refunds for all the rescheduled shows, instead opting to wait for the show to return, or giving a donation instead.  

Beauty and the Beast, which was supposed to be this year’s Christmas show, was rescheduled to next Christmas and nearly everyone accepted the change in date. 

The theatre also raised money through their hashtag #RoseEndures. 

O’Dowd said: “We’ve been blown away by the love from Kingston.” 

The Rose Theatre received ‘amazing’ support from its stakeholders, Kingston Borough and Kingston University, as well as funding from the Arts Council Emergency Fund, the Cultural Recovery Fund, furloughed staff on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and will be using the job support scheme announced this week. 

The Rose Theatre is looking to produce their own shows in spring, but the cast will remain small to reduce risk, and larger productions and their new artistic director’s first season won’t be returning until next autumn, at least. 

Battersea Arts Centre is among the theatre’s in south west London who have gone fully remote with their autumn schedule.

For more information, head to the Rose Theatre website

Feature image credit: Nobby Clark

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