Current city: Philadelphia
Hometown: Appleton, Wisconsin and Chicago
1. Do you have any upcoming gigs you’re particularly excited about?
I’m a founding member of Third Eye Theatre Ensemble, a chamber opera company based out of Chicago. They’re sort of my heartbeat company. They let me push the work into new areas and we have a deep culture of trust in the ensemble. They truly are my truth teller and moral compass.
ANYWAY, COVID willing, we’re doing The Infinite Energy of Ada Lovelace by Kamala Sankaram and in September and I’m super excited.
2. Can you tell us about your path to discovering directing?
I wanted to be either a nun or an international human rights lawyer when I was younger, but I was openly gay and the Catholic Bishop didn’t like that and lawyers looked like they were stressed out all the time, so I became a Unitarian and went into theatre. My favorite part of being on the student campus ministry was planning the prayer services. After coming out, it was pretty clear I wasn’t welcome at Campus Ministry anymore, so I focused more on the school plays. I grew up watching operas on my mother’s lap and absolutely loved the transcendent feeling I got when music rushed over me. One day, it just clicked. I could create holy space, advocate for social justice, and live my life as God made me if I was in theatre. I’ve always been pretty bossy. My nickname when I was five was “Captain Rose.” I love creating worlds I want to see and creating productions as I want them. Ironically, my whole thing as a director is non- hierarchical work. I create the environment, but everyone contributes. My work is very collaborative, with my idea not having any more say than anyone else’s. It’s about whatever the piece wants. I’m no longer all about what I want. That’s not interesting to me anymore. Now, I’m interested in creating environments where everyone can contribute freely and bravely so the audience can eventually participate in what’s now my modern prayer service, which I think we call a show.
3. You’ve tackled an amazing array of projects, from opera to burlesque. How do you approach these different genres as a director?
It’s all music theatre at its core. As a director, I reject the notion that I’m basically a traffic cop. I think of myself as a gardener. There’s sun, plant life, good dirt. My job as a director is to craft an environment and put the right elements together to create a sustainable ecosystem. If you think about directing like that, it doesn’t matter if you’re running a Monster Truck rally, a rap concert, or a play in a theatre (which I rarely do). It’s still just understanding what the story is and giving the right elements to the right people so they can tell it. A genre is like a climate you’re planting your garden in… You can’t put a cactus in a northern climate and expect it to thrive, so why would you expect prioritizing movement over music in an opera rehearsal when the genre strives for a perfect marriage between the two?
I like the variety of projects because they all inform each other. Burlesque is exciting because it’s all performer led non verbal direct communication with the audience and body work. That means I can bring enthusiastic consent into how to stage an opera. Opera is exciting because its music first and full of big emotions, which can elevate burlesque as the strip tease or clown act justifies the accompanying music.
4. What are you most looking forward to doing in a post-vaccine world?
I’m torn between going to a big queer dance party, hugging my mom, or seeing some dope theatre.
See Rose’s StageTime profile here!