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Seven new plays for Rose Bruford’s 60th

2011 seems to be a special birthday year for a surprising number of drama schools. Italia Conti is celebrating its centenary, while East 15 is happily marking 50 years. And the institutions which eventually formed LAMDA date from 1861, which makes this its 150th year.

Of course the pressure is on to find imaginative and appropriate ways of marking these landmarks and Rose Bruford has, I think, come up with a nice one.

60 years old this year, Rose Bruford College is presenting a season of new writing from emerging young playwrights as part of its Diamond Jubilee celebrations. They are Alice Birch, Ben Ockrent, Ella Hickson, and Nick Payne. Award-winning dramatist Simon Stephens has mentored them.

These playwrights have been commissioned to write seven short plays on the themes of Performance Dreams, and Entertaining Intimacies - part of the Director’s New Writing Season.

Each play is directed by a Rose Bruford graduating director: Roy Alexander Weise, Francesca Camozzi, Ben Smith, Nicole Ingemann, Karima Setohy, Oliver Jack, and Lauren Hamilton. The plays have been written specifically for Rose Bruford’s performers.

So what are the plays and what are they about? From June 2-4, under the title of Performance Dreams, in the Barn Theatre in Sidcup, there will be performances of 17 by Ben Ockrent, directed by Roy Alexander Weise, The Frugal Horn by Nick Payne, directed by Francesca Camozzi, and DR4U by all four playwrights, directed by Ben Smith.

17 is the story of a seventh son of seventh son. It’s Esteban’s 17th birthday and according to legend this could be a very interesting birthday party. DR4U is an acronym for “Debt Reduction 4 U”. Ridden with debt, Penny has made an appointment with unknown consequences. The Frugal Horn is a story about three encounters between strangers and their intentions.

Between June 9-11 (and subtitled Entertaining Intimacies), the College presents four plays, also in the Barn Theatre: Contact by Alice Birch, directed by Nicole Ingemann, Cappuccino by Ella Hickson, directed by Karima Setohy, F**king Instruments by Ben Ockrent and Nick Payne, directed by Oliver Jack, and Four Dresses by Alice Birch and Ella Hickson, directed by Lauren Hamilton.

What sort of contact is made in Contact when a stranger dressed in army gear interrupts a couple’s intimate celebratory dinner? In Cappuccino the audience will find out how much froth can be made when two couples start communicating. F**king Instruments asks whether are we just instruments and presents four couples starting to find out as they explore their deepest and darkest secrets. Four Dresses gives us four well- known fictional brides and monologues from Juliet, Wendy, Penelope and Cinderella on their wedding days.

I gather from my contact at Rose Bruford that all seven plays are suitable for aged 15+ and the college would be delighted to see as many people there as possible.

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