I Have a Speech of Fire - Director's Thoughts

Well, it's just under 2 weeks to opening night, and so, like any good director, I am not so much thinking at this stage as existing in a state of blind panic! There is so much to do and, as always, the mountain to climb seems daunting. This show is one of the most logistically complicated I have ever undertaken - 16 female performers, playing 59  male and female roles (not to mention the non-speaking roles) in eleven main scenes taken from a range of Shakespeare's plays Still, I am regularly ticking things off my "to do" list and, together with my talented cast, we are certainly making the right kind of progress.

I am really enjoying watching the production gently mature in rehearsal, getting ready for an audience. Highlights from the rehearsal room this week have been: adding a basic pavane to an argument between Beatrice and Benedict from Much Ado; finding the relationship between Kent and Lear that allows Kent to speak so bluntly and passionately to Lear; and deciding on a cheeky costume addition, which makes the most of the cross-dressing of Julia from Two Gentlemen of Verona.

I can't wait to get into our actual venue to rehearse - we get in next weekend. We're performing in A-wing at Lancaster Castle - part of the ex-prison - and an area of the castle not normally open to the public - an extra treat, then, for our audiences! It's a 3 storey space with cells on both sides (one of them reputed to be haunted!) and, as a major focus of our show is the importance of speech, I am looking forward to getting some voices to come from surprising places.

Tickets are available from the link below. The show is March 14th and 15th at 8pm. Hope to see you there! (And watch this space for some thoughts from various cast members over the next few days and some rehearsal images.)


Emma Rucastle



What The Rose Company Did Next

We've just celebrated our first birthday, and the past year has been great fun. During the past 12 months we've performed in theatres, universities and a castle (one with turrets, dungeons and a portcullis!). We've met some fantastic people, made plenty of new friends, featured on BBC Radio Lancashire and BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour, and had the honour of being one of Diva magazine's 'Top 10 Lez/Bi Things to Do This Week'. We were thrilled by the wonderful response we've received for 'Iphigenia'- and now we've started working on our second project ...

I Have A Speech of Fire

We don't just do Early Modern female playwrights, we like Shakespeare too. In fact, Shakespeare is one of the reasons why we were formed in the first place - we wanted the right to say those words, make those texts live and breathe with our voices. We thought, if you can have all-male productions of Shakespeare, it's only fair to have all-female productions to redress the balance. 

I Have A Speech of Fire is a specially-crafted blend of Shakespeare's dialogues about the power of words and silence. The full-length montage  features key scenes from:

Richard III 
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Twelfth Night
Henry VIII
The Winter's Tale
Much Ado About Nothing
Richard II
Antony and Cleopatra
The Tempest
King Lear

I Have A Speech of Fire premières at Lancaster Castle 14 & 15 March 2014, 8pm. Part of the Lancaster Season of Shakespeare. Tickets £7. More info: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/shakespeare/lancaster-season-of-shakespeare/performances/

Iphigenia Tour Cast & Crew

The Rose Company's production of Lady Jane Lumley's 'Iphigenia' was first performed as a work in progress at The Minghella Theatre, Reading University, 9 July 2013. The show was directed by Emma Rucastle. The cast was as follows:

Agamemnon                Ruth Gregson

Senex/ Nuntio              Alison Findlay

Clytemnestra/Menelaus    Aliki Chapple

Iphigenia                            Madie Howard

Achilles                               Elle Lund

Chorus/ Lumley               Emma Rucastle

The production was then redeveloped for a national tour in November 2013- January 2014, playing at Lancaster Castle, Homerton College Cambridge University, University College London, The Kings Arms Theatre Salford, The New Continental Preston, and the Lantern Theatre Liverpool. Touring cast:

Agamemnon                              Ruth Gregson

Senex                                          Alison Findlay

Menelaus                                    Helen Katamba

Clytemnestra                             Aliki Chapple

Iphigenia                                    Catherine Bateman

Achilles                                       Elle Lund

Nuntio 1                                      Marian Cox

Nuntio 2                                      Christine Burn

Chorus                                        Christine Burn

                                 Marian Cox

                                 Beth Cortese 

                                 Eleanor Barton-Mather

Director                                       Emma Rucastle

Dramaturg                                  Alison Findlay

Producer                                     Ruth Gregson

Vocal Coach                               Marion Middleditch

Props and Costume                  Aliki Chapple

Graphic Design                          Harold Saxon

The music used in the production, the Seikilos Epitaph, is  the oldest known pieces of musical composition as we know it. Our version, performed live by the cast, has lyrics translated from the original Greek by Aliki Chapple:

While you live, Shine.
Shine, let in no sorrow.
So little is life.
An end is imposed by time.

Iphigenia - January 2014 Tour

We're so pleased with the response to Jane Lumley's Iphigenia, we'll be touring again in 2014.

You can still hear some performance extracts and Alison and Emma talking about the play on Woman's Hour, right at the end of the programme.


(booking fees may apply)

Salford: Kings Arms Theatre, January 12th, 7.30PM


Preston: The New Continental, January 16th, 8PM

Phone: 01772 499 425


Lancaster: Lancaster Castle, January 17th, 7:30 PM

Liverpool: Lantern Theatre, January 19th 7.30pm


Iphigenia tour - November 2013

The picture above shows our touring Chorus, rehearsing just before our show at Homerton College.

We had a fantastic time on our mini-Iphigenia tour - Lancaster Castle, November 19-21; Homerton College, Cambridge, November 23; UCL, London, November 24. Thanks to all who came to see us and/or who supported us in any way. We are looking forward to our next set of dates in January: King's Arms,Salford, Sunday January 12th; The Continental Theatre, Preston Thursday January 16th, Lancaster Castle (we're back there by popular demand!) Friday January 17th; The Lantern Theatre, Liverpool, Sunday January 18th.

Here are some photos from the dates so far performed:



We really hope to see you at our January shows. Do get in touch with us via email if you have any questions/comments - rosecompanytheatre@gmail.com.A link to the King's Arms, Salford, where tickets can be reserved for January 12th can be found by by following this link: Reserve tickets here. Full details of how to reserve tickets for other venues will appear very soon.

The Chorus

 You can't have a Greek tragedy - not even an Early Modern one - without a Chorus, and ours is something special. (Rehearsal photo by Emma Rucastle)

Director Emma Rucastle and Professor Alison Findlay (who edited the performance script and plays Senex) were interviewed on Woman's Hour on 29th November. You can hear the interview (36 minutes into the programme) by following this link )

Lady Jane Lumley's Iphigenia - some background

The Tragedie of Euripedes called Iphigeneia dramatizes how Iphigenia is brought to Aulis to be sacrificed so that the Greek ships can sail to Troy. It was first ‘translated out of Greake into Englisshe’ c.1555  by Lady Jane Lumley, and has only been performed twice in modern times. It is the first known dramatic text by a woman in English. Lumley’s script shows how Iphigenia is physically, politically and emotionally imprisoned: caught between the demands of her father Agamemnon (the Greek commander) and her mother Clytemnestra who strives to save her daughter’s life through marriage to the hero Achilles. This production will emphasize the limits of female agency and the possibilities to transcend them offered by Lumley’s script, and by all-female productions.

Lady Jane Lumley’s sixteenth-century translation of Euripedes’ tragedy, the first to appear in English, engages directly with issues of imprisonment, freedom of choice and gendered identity. Her tragic heroine transcends the stalemate of her parents’ quarrel by declaring

"I will offer my selfe willing to deathe, for my countrie"


 Iphigenia’s courage and resolution contrasts with Agamemnon’s cowardice, indecision and deceit. Fearing the Greek army (the ‘host’), his wife’s reaction, and his own inability to carry out the sacrifice of his daughter, Agamemnon pretends that he has summoned Iphigenia to be married to Achilles. Lumley suggests that in both cases, the reduction of a woman to a ‘commoditie’ to be trafficked between men is wrong.


Iphigenia’s story had immediate relevance for the translator, Lady Jane Lumley, since her father, Lord Arundel, had sacrificed her cousin, Lady Jane Grey to be executed at the hands of Catholic Mary Tudor. Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed Queen of England on 9th October 1553 but ruled for only nine days before she was imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed on 12 February 1554. Euripedes’ tragedy is an ideal vehicle to express the sense of guilt, loss, blame and anger which must have hung over the Lumley household.

Lumley’s translation is daring in finding moments of dark comedy in the ludicrous situations faced by the protagonists. It also speaks out against a tradition of male, military valour, since Lumley’s Greek hero is Iphigenia.   



The Rose Company was established in 2013 out of the love of classic and historical performance texts and a belief in gender justice. This first production represents their commitment to bringing historical texts to contemporary life. http://therosecompany.posthaven.com/




Iphigenia Development meeting/casting


October 1st, 7:30 PM The Lord Ashton


The Rose Company : Iphigenia and more




We are an all-female classical theatre company based in Lancaster, performing neglected gems by women writers as well as plays by Shakespeare and other canonical texts.

We are now developing our production of Jane Lumley’s Iphigenia for performance in Lancaster and on tour in November 2013 and we are looking for women actors to take part.

If you are interested in this or future projects do come along and/or get in touch. You will find us on Facebook, Twitter (@TheRoseCompany), and rosecompanytheatre@gmail.com

*Please note The Rose Company is a profit-share theatre company