splint: so Rosa, thank you so much for chatting with us today. Tell us a little about yourself…
Rosa: thank you! My name is Rosa Caines, born and bred in Brighton. I am an actor, writer and theatre maker… and first and foremost a feminist.
splint: yes yes yes, so what are you doing at the moment?
Rosa: I have written a play called ‘Tender’ which is being put on next week for the first time so that’s exciting.. I am also continuing to work with Argonaut Theatre Company on their production of Action At a Distance written by the wonderful Rory Horne. ‘Tender’ is the one that I am thinking about at the minute, It is being put on by a new feminist theatre company called ‘Big Mouth Collective’ at The Platform Theatre, Drama Centre London. BigMouth was set up by Molly Leighmoy who is directing the show – I actually found Molly through another one of your splint girls – my friend Molly-Rose who shared the opportunity with me and here we are! I think sharing of opportunities doesn’t happen enough because there is so much competition but it’s what the industry is all about. It is a play full of truth, experiences and conversations – so hopefully it is really relatable. I always spoil everything, so I feel like I can’t say anything more about it without revealing the entire plot! It’s two strangers renting a horrible mouldy flat in London, they are broke and how it can feel like London doesn’t have space for you. It’s about how they find solace, connection and empowerment in each other. I wanted to create a play with funny and eccentric female characters and give them space to be angry. That’s at the heart of the play; anger and taking up space.
splint: amazing, it sounds like it is a play that provides two ladies with a good chunky role.
Rosa: yes absolutely, as I am primarily an actor I will always write the kind of roles I want to play. I wrote one of the characters for myself. There are some amazing new female writers changing it up and creating female characters that are flawed and messy and confident and funny; all the things that male parts have always been allowed to be.
splint: so in regards to the work you’re doing with ‘Argonaut and Action at a Distance’ – how did you get involved with the company and where are your upcoming shows?
Rosa: Rory Horne and Nina Cavaliero set up the company at uni. We are doing a small tour, ‘Pulse festival’ in Ipswich on June 3rd then a few more dates including a night in Manchester which I am really excited about because apparently it is an amazing venue. It definitely is a play with momentum behind it so we will see where it goes!
splint: for anyone who doesn’t know about ‘Action at a Distance’, do you want to give a little run down of where it began and what it is about? Also, how have you found working so closely to your boyfriend?
Rosa: the script was written by Rory Horne, it is a fantastic script. Rory is definitely someone to look out for in the future! It is set in Nevada and I play a working class woman called Chris who is an out of work plumber and doesn’t have much going on in her life. She meets this man online, he owns a charity called ‘Conflict Clarity’ which aims to expose the truth what is happening in warfare and how many civilians are getting hurt in the drone strikes under Obama. It is dealing with very real topics in a sort of Black Mirror style – it tackles politics and technology. I’m the worst for spoilers but it is full of twists and is amazing. I’m very proud to be in it.
working with Dom Luck (my boyfriend) is great. It might be some peoples nightmare to work with a partner but I love it. We know each other so well, we can bounce ideas off each other – because we have a strong relationship we can tell each other when we do need space. We have worked with each other at university, he directed me in a play that he had written.. which was quite intense but also a really positive experience. I sometimes feel it is a little bit stressful for him because I am often playing quite unhinged characters, so I end up going a little bit weird in the process. So I would say it was a lovely experience but he might say differently haha.
splint: what was your actual experience of university and how was it for you?
Rosa: so I went to UEA, in Norwich. It was a little bit strange because I was slightly older than a lot of my year group. In some ways it was great but a lot of my friends from home were already cracking on with jobs and doing proper adult life things. The course at UEA was actually really great though, and I got a lot out of it, made amazing friends which I will have forever; the script writing classes with Steve Waters were really valuable. Uni rather than Drama School taught me a lot about being a Theatre Maker rather than just an actor. Now I feel like I have loads of ideas and am ready to go.
splint: so at university you discovered burlesque… Please tell us more.
Rosa: I had always wanted to try it. I think I am a bit of an exhiitionist and think nudity is great and beautiful and our attitudes to it bizzare. It was an amazing experience because the whole group of girls were so supportive, backstage everyone is sharing wine and compliments, generally hyping eachother up. It is great to see that everyone has normal bodies. It isn’t about the idea of the perfect body; everyone has spots, scars and cellulite but they are still shimmying away in their sequin pants. It is all about body positivity and confidence. For me my routines always have a narrative, based around feminism, rebellion and defying expectation – and of course loads and loads of glitter. It is such a good way to express ideas and this rage, it’s a really good fuck you to all the ways women are controlled, tied down and expected to behave. It can feel like we don’t have ownership of our own bodies-its a fuck you to all of that. I have been told to ‘tone it down’ lots of times before but being passionate and intense is a good thing -don’t let anyone dampen your fire! Anyone should give it a go.
splint: and also it is definitely okay to be sexy.
Rosa: yes 100% and although burlesque is for the audience it is also very much for yourself. Everyone’s routines are so different. It is an opportunity to be sexy and funny and powerful-whatever you want – without the underlying ‘Male Gaze’ – the group and most of the audience are women. You are doing it for the thrill, you are doing it to encourage other women to embrace themselves. Very empowering.
splint: you also recently did a scratch night at CentrE17, with another piece of work you had written. How do you find all the things that you want to write about and how did that go?
Rosa: I wanted to do a one woman show. I don’t think I will carry on with it but it might lead into new work or writing. It was about anxiety and bringing a baby into the world as it is, it was quite surreal. It can really feel like with all the technological advancements, social media, wars,global warming,house prices rising-there is so much to make you anxious It was about that sense of panic and not knowing where your place in it all is.
splint: do you think that writing, helps you find and understand your place in the world?
Rosa: yeah definitely. I always write about things that are political and feminist. It’s this idea of anxiety and finding hope,there has to be hope.
splint: if you could write or perform about one topic for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Rosa: good question. I think anger. I think there is a lot to be frustrated about. For me anger is at the heart of everything, even my burlesque routines focus on rebellion and breaking free. I always loved punk music when I was growing up – I like the idea of anger as a positive, energising force.Often it feels as if someone is always trying to put a plaster over every emotion and make sure everyone is constantly ‘fine’ , telling you to cheer up when actually it’s completely okay to be hungover,sad, pissed off or frustrated.I also think that anger is associated with ideas of a masculinity, there are so many examples of women being portrayed as obedient and passive. Anger can be powerful, celebratory and energising, so yes that is what I would write about.
splint: then if you could work with one other famous person, either dead or alive who would it be?
Rosa: The first person that came into my mind was Patti Smith, she has always been someone I have loved so much, her lyrics are mad and mystical and her work is so full of rage and power. Growing up listening to punk music, there weren’t many female voices in that area that I connected to until I discovered her. I remember loving the cover of her album Horses, she is there in a typically masculine pose wearing a suit. Then on another album Easter, she is looking at the viewer with bare shoulders in a typically feminine pose but with full armpit hair on display – I love how she subverts gender and challenges social ideas in her songs.
splint: how do you find being a feminist as well as balancing being a woman and maintaining positive relationships with the men that are in your life?
Rosa: I think it is definitely something that I have found hard in the past. I was very lucky to grow up in a very liberal family, I remember when I was really, really young my dad kicking off in the Natural History Museum saying ‘You need to change it to the history of Humankind not Mankind!’ and my brother and I have my mums surname so even in these small ways it was on my radar. I know when I was younger I used to shout about it too loud, I think it alienated people the way I tried to talk about feminism.
I learnt to talk about it in a more engaging way, people don’t want to have things shoved down their throats. I used to get so angry and upset about it. I still do but I have learnt to talk about it in a more open way and to understand the taught toxic masculinity and sexism that lead to these problems. It’s a problem with education, I think it’s madness that sex education is not prioritised more in schools and focused on teaching consent and confidence – It’s an exciting time of change in the industry with the momentum of the #MeToo movement. As more people open up and engage with the issue hopefully the gap between the genders can close up. I never used to have male friends because of this but I do now, my boyfriend is a fantastic feminist. He always calls out sexism and slut shaming etc.
splint: what do you think is the hardest thing is when working in the creative industry.
Rosa: the uncertainty and instability. I have friends with 9-5’s and salaries, and so much of the acting industry is unknown. The exciting part of it is the unpredictability, it isn’t monotonous and never the same. The thing that I hate the most is how elitist the industry is, a lot of things are being brought to light now and there is a push towards diversity which is fantastic. However it can seem that the industry is saturated with people of extreme privilege, mega rich and well connected. It can feel like there isn’t space for people from working class or low income Backgrounds. But that is why platforms like Splint are so important, if you don’t come from that background the only way in is creating and sharing opportunities. This is what it’s all about.
splint: what’s next for Rosa?
Rosa: ‘Tender’ is on next week and I definitely want to develop that further so that will be a big focus this year. ‘Action at a Distance’ is continuing. Argonaut has been chosen as one of the New Diorama’s emerging theatre companies which is really exciting and hopefully that will lead to more opportunities. I’m going to keep writing alongside auditioning as I want to make my own work and I have a lot of ideas and talented friends I want to collaborate with. So going to keep busy, keep inspired and just keep grafting!
splint: thank you so much for chatting with us Rosa – you are a star! Everyone check out ‘Tender’ next week!!