Actor and producer Bella Rose joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about her exciting new site-specific theatre production, The Colour Of August.
Debuting at the Open House Hackney later this month, it follows the story arch of two female artists who are life-long friends and former lovers. The story is extremely moving, unforgiving, sensual, and important.
For ticket info – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-colour-of-august-tickets-314256939967
Hello Bella, welcome to Close-Up Culture. First off, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Funnily enough I always find it rather complicated to answer questions about my background as it’s so complex! But in short… from Creole, Cantonese and British descent. I was born in Australia but grew up on the small island of Mallorca in Spain due to my father being a yacht captain.
I spent a large portion of my life travelling to wherever my fathers job took us, Greece, Antigua, Florida, Italy (to name a few)… which gave me the invaluable skill of adapting to new environments with ease. Due to my nomadic background I developed a profound love for culture, diversity and the arts catapulting me into the creative industry of story telling I now find myself in!
You are producing and starring in an exciting new site-specific theatre production called The Colour of August. It is a female led and self-funded project. Can you talk about the inspiration for the show and the work you’ve done to get it on the stage?
I found the play while frantically searching for audition material for drama school, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the heartbreaking, complex and poetic story that Paloma Pedrero, the writer, so masterfully constructed between these two women. I kept the play with me at all times ever since knowing that one day I would put it on…
A few months ago, after I graduated from drama school, I wrote a passionate e-mail to the translator of the play saying that I was thinking of putting on her translation of Paloma’s play, what my vision for the piece was and why I wanted to tell the story. She came back to me a few days later saying they both absolutely loved my vision for the piece and that they would like to offer me the rights to put it on. First hurdle done!
Then, because the play centres solely around two females (a rare thing in our theatre history), I really wanted to collaborate with a female director and a female artists who could contribute their work to the set as well as find a site-specific artist studio in which to perform it in. I found all three as soon as I moved to the vibrant and extraordinary place that is Hackney Wick.
What felt like the hardest thing in the world suddenly became the easiest thing overnight as I instantly connected with passionate and likeminded women in the area. Everything else is history!
Can you tell us about the character you play and how you’re approaching this role?
I play Laura Anton, an extremely talented Spanish artist who now finds herself lost in booze and broken relationships after an eight year hiatus in New York. She is then tricked into meeting her life-long friend and former lover, Maria Dehesa.. one of the reasons she left in the first place. The play begins here at their meeting.
Inhabiting this role for me in particular has been extremely organic because of my Spanish upbringing and because I share a similar passionate “no-bullshit” approach to life as she does. I have also found animal studies to be quite useful during the rehearsal process to free up my physiclaity as an actor as well as detailing a very specific and intricate backstory for her based on any facts I have been able to draw out from the script.
What experience can audiences expect from this production?
An audience can expect to be taken on a wild journey into the depths of womanhood, sisterhood, motherhood and deep rooted friendship. I would advise them throughout this visual feast of love, sex, alcohol and paint to reserve judgement and allow Maria and Laura to show them both the darkness and light of what it meant to be a woman in the art world in the ’80s – and through that perhaps allow some questioning of what it means to be a woman today.
The venue is a warehouse conversion art gallery space in the heart of Hackney Wick with a small audience capacity on every night allowing for a truly intimate experience of storytelling. There will be no “stage” as it where placing the audience at the heart of the action. Our trigger warnings include: violence, scenes of a sexual nature, alcohol addiction as well as references to death and infertility.
What are your hopes for the production?
My hopes for the prodcution are that we get transfered to a bigger venue so that our story can reach a wider auience. I’m not sure how fitting it would be in one of the mainstream theatres considering some of the topics exposed could be considered “edgy” but I Imagine it would suit places that are constantly provoking and pushing boundaries with the work they put on like The Almeida!