Rose

Information taken from Wikipedia and from website of Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance:

Rose Elizabeth Bruford was born on the 22nd June 1904. She remembered herself as a child always acting, often directed by her brother Lionel. She was educated at Kilburn High School, and later at Bath High School where on one occasion a verse recital was given by Elsie Fogarty, the founder and Principal of the Central School of Speech and Drama, then situated at the Royal Albert Hall. Having decided that she wanted to pursue a career in drama Bru resolved to go to the Central School and although the early months, in 1921, were not particularly happy she grew to love Elsie Fogarty who she claimed was ‘undoubtedly a genius’ and a profound influence on “Bru” during her formative years.

While still a student, Bru took part in the renowned Oxford Recitations of Spoken Verse, begun in 1923 by John Masefield. Here she became acquainted with the poets W.H. Auden, Gordon Bottomley, Richard Church, Walter de la Mare, T.S. Eliot, Christopher Hassall, John Drinkwater, and W.B. Yeats who encouraged her to speak some of his poems to a small harp, a featured highlight of her recitals in years to come. In 1928 she walked off with top honours for her verse speaking and John Masefield was to be her champion and guide for the rest of her life.

After graduating from the Central School, Bru followed her parents’ wishes never to work in the theatre and instead became a visiting teacher of Speech and Drama. Between 1925 and 1949 she taught regularly at forty-three different schools, but in 1941 she was appointed to the staff of the Royal Academy of Music where, starting with seven students, she built the Drama course to the point when it boasted seventy students and was recognized by the Ministry of Education as a qualified teacher-training programme. While spending three days at the Royal Academy of Music she spent the other two days at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where she taught mime to all the students.

In 1948 her first book, Speech and Drama, was published and became a best-seller.

In 1950, with £600 she set up her own drama school, with the help of poet laureate John Masefield, Laurence Olivier, and Peggy Ashcroft, who formed part of the Board of Governors. Kent Education Committee offered her the use of Lamorbey House, an 18th-century, Grade II listed manor house in the Lamorbey district of Sidcup, at a rent of £5 per annum.

(Lamorbey Park is a 57 hectare park in the London Borough of Bexley, set around Lamorbey House. The original 17th century estate consisted of 119 hectares, but over time sections of the estate have been separated for other uses, including two secondary schools (Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School and Hurstmere School), Rose Bruford College, and Sidcup Golf Club.)

It was Rose Bruford’s mission to train actors who could teach and teachers who could act. Her repeated advice when training actors was ‘Think, move, speak.’ She retired as Principal in 1967, and for a period after that worked as dictum and acting coach to the principal singers at the Sadlers Wells Opera Company.

Rose Bruford died in 1983, and a Thanksgiving Service to her memory was held on 22nd June 1984 at the Actor’s Church, St. Paul’s, Covent Garden on what would have been her 80th birthday.  On 22nd June 1985 a plaque to her memory was unveiled by Dame Peggy Ashcroft in St. Paul’s (The Actor’s Church), Covent Garden.

(Sir Richard Eyre became the first president of Rose Bruford College in July 2010. He gives “President’s Lectures” at this prestigious drama school; his 2012 talk was entitled Directing Shakespeare for BBC Television. He lives in Brook Green, West London.)

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