Writer’s unique acclaimed one-woman show
Acclaimed writer and performer Rose Collis unbuttons her Trouser-Wearing Characters, in the first-ever original, one-woman cabaret-style musical show created and performed by a British author.
This original entertainment is a unique mixture of music, history and comedy. It combines stories, vignettes and songs (evergreens and originals) about some of her favourite, eclectic ‘trouser-wearing characters’, from Nancy Spain to Colonel Barker, Dougie Byng to the ‘f**king lady’ herself, Coral Browne, with cameo ‘appearances’ by the likes of Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich and Vincent Price.
Since making its world premiere at the Brighton Fringe 2012, the show has appeared at festivals and venues throughout the UK, including:
- BooQFest Northampton
- Littlehampton Arts Festival
- Wigtown Book Festival Fringe (Scotland)
- Norwich Pride Arts Festival
- Manchester Pride
- Hot August Fringe @ The RVT
- Collier Wood Arts Festival
- Mosaic Cat (Margate)
- Rainbow Hamlets Arts Festival (London)
In February 2016, Arts Council England funded its first UK regional tour for LGBT History Month 2016. The show was performed in public libraries in Ipswich, Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton, Reading, Worcester, Shrewsbury, Sheffield, Todmorden and Newcastle. Its overall audience feedback rating was 4.5 out of five stars.
Excellent entertainment — never stopped smiling at the wit and intelligence
Smooth, slick and fascinating; an excellent show and a wonderful example of the evolution of the library. I’d love to see more by Rose Collis — bring her back!
Entertaining, educational and fun.
Absolutely brilliant — really entertaining and informative.
Loved the mixture of music and storytelling.
Interesting and fun stories told by an interesting and fun character.
A lovely mixture of history and music; well-researched and very entertaining.
Great pace, wit and pathos in balanced doses.
Novel, engaging and delightfully entertaining.
Original – sort of intellectual stand-up.
Early in 2013, Trouser-Wearing Characters had a hugely successful five-week tour of New Zealand (produced by Tomboi Productions) and Australia, appearing at Auckland Fringe, NZWellington Fringe, Sydney Mardi Gras and Adelaide Fringe — the second biggest arts festival in the world.
Trouser-Wearing Characters is a one-woman show, with a cast of many characters — including Rose’s veteran banjoleles, ‘Alvin’ and ‘Bud’. ‘Most people won’t know that, before I became an author and journalist, I was a performer and songwriter in fringe theatre, from 1979 until 1985’, reveals Rose. ‘The show’s origins began with an appearance I made last May at Polari on the South Bank and, though it was a short set, the combination of comedy, history and song was a hit with the audience — and it was one of the easiest and best ideas I’ve ever had to develop a full-length show for this year’s Fringe.’
Trouser-Wearing Characters brings together everything I’ve done in my careers, from singing and writing original songs, to researching and relating stories of fascinating and quirky figures. I think the show has something for everyone, whether they enjoy showbiz-type anecdotes, real-life scandals or even just songs performed with banjoleles! So, I hope audiences will not only think, “I really enjoyed that”, but also “I never knew that!”’
‘Rose Collis has the air of someone moving to the next level: all the elements of her previous experience researching, writing and performing unite during this show in a natural and self-assured way. As an author of several books, this show is crammed full of facts and unexpected connections. It’s more than just a lecture, however: in a theatrical exploration of colourful characters who defied expectations in order to reinvent themselves, she also sings and presents the material with enough theatricality to bring her subjects to life.’
Lucy Nordberg, Fringe Review
‘Rose Collis takes us on a biographical tour performance of four ‘trouser wearing characters’. While the background roaring twenties jazz plays, take the opportunity to eat a delicious cake or sip a glass of wine. “Let’s Misbehave” plays until Rose makes her dramatic entrance.
Drawing the audience in instantly with skilled story telling, cheeky songs, gender exploration and a comparison of attitudes of people then and now (striking similarities will startle), Rose weaves secrets, tidbits of biographical information & audience banter, and plays her banjolele Bud as well. Rose brings gems and nuggets of biographical details compellingly recounted through humour, song and wit…spiced with witty asides, knowing looks and a bright selection of songs on the banjolele… Collis brought them to life colourfully and sympathetically.
‘…Collis’s genuine affection for her cross-dressing eccentrics is the heart of this show. That makes it work, and creates something quirky and uplifting. The themes of the show stayed with me as I left the Marlborough.’
Mathilda Gregory, Fringe Guru
‘Collis has excelled in creating something that has moved beyond any general label. Although the show has a distinctly queer theme, the way in which Collis skilfully illuminates the lives of her trouser-wearing characters means that they each shine simply as interesting and outstanding human beings irrespective of any gender judgements – which was arguably what each of them was trying to achieve in life anyway. Trouser-Wearing Characters is a highly-entertaining and personal piece of cabaret theatre that will be appreciated by a broad audience.’
Theatre Review New Zealand
A one-woman show in which Rose Collis tells us the stories of four ‘masculine women and feminine men’; real characters from a not-too-distant past who broke away from gender stereotypes. Collis knows her subjects well, having written books about them, and her enthusiasm for them makes the show flow easily. The humour and subject matter is delivered with admirable subtlety. The fact that some of the characters are fairly contemporary (such as the hilarious piece written for, but not performed at, Carole Browne’s funeral by Barry Humphries is a highlight) means that this is not simply a slice of vaudeville nostalgia.
Final Word: Delightful.
Rip It Up, Adelaide
‘Can an historian ever be entertaining? When the historian is Rose Collis and the subject is delightfully decadent and debauched, the answer is a big ‘over the top’ YES!’
Adelaide Theatre Guide
‘It’s a pleasure to spend an hour with Rose Collis and her tales of masculine women and feminine men, a look at the gay British sub culture of the last century, focussed on Brighton.’
‘Trouser-Wearing Characters’ Runner-Up, ‘Best Theatre Show’ in Ultimate Planet 2014 Awards
Read the interview in Beige magazine: http://www.beigeuk.com/2012/12/interview-rose-collis/
Read the What’s On Stage interview: http://www.whatsonstage.com/features/theatre/brighton/E8831335852603/Brief+Encounter+with%85+Rose+Collis.htm
Featured on Urban Secrets with Alan Cumming (Sky Atlantic, 2012): http://www.twofour.co.uk/news/alan-cumming-visits-brighton-in-urban-secrets-episode-2/