Rosa

FEATURING Roz Pappalardo DIRECTED BY Suellen Maunder DESIGNER Alison Ross LIGHTING DESIGNER Tom Willis SOUND DESIGNER Peter Bishop & Roz Pappalardo DRAMATURG Peter Matheson & Kathryn Ash ORIGINAL SONGS Roz Pappalardo.


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This new Australian love story written by Roz Pappalardo, "Rosa", traces a family's history from Sicily to Mena Creek, in Far North Queensland. "Rosa" is a joyous tale told through original song and storytelling that examines the family ties that bind while traversing through the maternal ancestry from grandmother to granddaughter.

Roz has embraced an opportunity to tell a story inspired by her family through the medium of theatre and has recorded four of the play's key songs, with the ARIA award winning talents of Nigel Pegrum at Pegasus Studios, to be released as an EP to complement the production. The show opened Friday 15 July, 2011, to a standing ovation.

"I am thrilled to be working with JUTE Theatre to produce "Rosa". Theatre is such a powerful platform for storytelling and to able to combine this with my experience in song writing and recording is such a joy and honour," Roz says.

Roz's debut work as a playwright, "Rosa", was borne from a discussion with Suellen Maunder, the Artistic Director of JUTE Theatre, Australia's foremost regional professional theatre company, following JUTE's enthralling 2010 production of Blackbird by Megan Samardin.

Roz was moved by the production's ability to tell the story of a family's history through a combination of music, song and the spoken word. "Roz came to me and said she would love to write a play that tells the story of her own family's heritage."

Suellen says the end result, "Rosa", 'is a beautiful story and I expect to see a few tears in the audience but Roz also has such a hilarious way with storytelling that the tears will quickly turn to laughter. Really what you'll get is this amazing voice that will fill the theatre as you're taken on this wonderful journey about her grandmother "Rosa", her Sicilian background and how her family migrated to Australia and settled on a sugarcane farm near Mena Creek in the far north".

Reviews

Denise Carter
timeOut Cairns Post
17 July 2011

"There are various ways in which to judge a production's value. How it looks, whether it makes you think and the standard of the performances can all be considered, but the best thing a play can do is to move the audience emotionally.

Then you're not so much looking at scenery or costumes, or reasoning intellectually about the essence of the play, because you're almost too engrossed to notice.

So it was with Roz Pappalardo's performance of her new play, Rosa. The one-act play was part of Two 4 One, a double dish-up by JUTE Theatre in association with Paronella Park.

Pappalardo's play is loosely based on her grandparents' love story in their home of Sicily and follows their migration to Mena Creek in Far North Queensland. She is the lost singer-songwriter at the beginning, not sure, as often is the case in moments of people's lives, if she is following the right path, and so she lands in a world, real or imagined, of her grandmother in Sicily. Pappalardo's voice is powerful and she sings her original songs with great passion.

The audience seemed mesmerised as she seamlessly flowed from character to character, often at great speed, playing herself, her grandmother and her great-grandmother. So good was her acting, and Sue-ellen Maunder's direction, that with a minimal set, I could visualise a street scene with all its characters before me, and every scene even though there was only ever one actor on stage.

It's a moving piece of theatre, about drawing inspiration from the journeys of our ancestors, both physically and emotionally, and Pappalardo squeezed every last drop out of the audience, receiving a standing ovation at the play's end on opening night."

Glyn Davies
Independent Reviewer for Arts Nexus
July 2011

"There must be something in the air, or more likely the water, at Mena Creek. It is an enchanting place, an aqueous jewel set against the dark green backdrop of the North Queensland rain forest. Over recent time it has inspired some amazing events - the building of Paronella Park in the 30s, its rebirth after continual cyclonic inundations and a great fire. It was the stamping ground of the young Geoffrey Rush, and more recently has brought forth two captivating musical plays. The latest of these, Rosa, is the creation of well-known singer-songwriter, Roz Pappalardo, who tells in song and dramatic re-enactment the story of her family's migration from Sicily to a cane farm on Mena Creek.

Filled with Italian exuberance, tinged with sadness and regret, and uplifting at the same time, this is a lovely, lovely piece of musical theatre. Roz claims it is not entirely biographical. Even so, it features an eponymous character called Roz, who travels back to the Sicilian town of Fondachello to relive in part the story of her family's emigration. The subsequent scenes require the actor Roz to recreate herself, her spirited grandmother as a young girl, and her great-grandmother. She has to slip in and out of past and present, while at the same time offering a musical accompaniment to the action of the play. To say that Roz Pappalardo's accomplishment as playwright, actor and singer is a tour de force is an understatement. The audience was blown away as was I, by the audacity of the enterprise and the brilliant way it was carried off.

I last saw Roz on stage earlier this year and was impressed with her vocal talent and her acting. While her writing has revealed an entirely new side to her multi-faceted personality, her performance in this play is startling. Though it may seem so, it is not at all easy to play one's self, let alone one's teenage grandmother and her mother as well. Yet, Roz slips in and out of these three roles with consummate ease, moving from the exasperated and world-weary contemporary Roz, to the charming and capricious Rosa, seeking romance and adventure, and then in a flash to the comic Italian "Mama" who constantly gives her daughter motherly advice, gesticulates wildly, sprouts Italian adages, and tries to marry her off against her will...."

"Rosa" at your venue

"Rosa" is a 50 min, one woman play. The play focuses on three character's journeys told through dialogue and original song. The play can be performed using minimal set and light cues, as well as minimal sound design. There is a need within the play for certain sounds cues, so a minimal PA set up is required.

Interested in having "Rosa"? - contact JUTE Theatre Company or Roz Pappalardo, the playwright.

Videos

Roz talks to ABC about "Rosa"
JUTE's 'Rosa' by Roz Pappalardo - Production Excerpts