Banbury actor makes Royal Shakespeare Company debut in fantastic Christmas show

A Banbury actor has made her Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) debut in this year’s fantastic Christmas show.
Actor Rosie Wyatt, currently playing the Duchess of Busborough and the Papergirl in The Box of Delights.Actor Rosie Wyatt, currently playing the Duchess of Busborough and the Papergirl in The Box of Delights.
Actor Rosie Wyatt, currently playing the Duchess of Busborough and the Papergirl in The Box of Delights.

Rosie Wyatt, brought up on Cherwell Heights, is having the time of her life with the large cast entertaining audiences in The Box of Delights - her first production at Stratford-on-Avon with all the incredible resources of one of Britain’s most revered theatre companies.

Rosie, 26, plays the Duchess of Musborough and the Papergirl in this stage dramatisation of John Masefield’s famous Christmas novel.

“I lived on Cherwell Heights throughout my childhood in the family home where my parents still live. I am one of five children and now have a big extended family of nieces and nephews all living in the Banbury area,” she said.

"I went to Bishop Loveday Primary school, as did my mum (my grandad was the headmaster there in the 70s and 80s) and all my siblings - and my sister now teaches there. I then went Banbury School until GCSEs and then moved to a school in Stratford-upon-Avon for sixth form. I now live in South London but visit Banbury regularly.

“My passion for performing began with my love of dance. I went to the Susan Taylor Dancing Academy in Banbury. Miss Taylor, who taught me ballet, tap and modern, really instilled in me how much hard work and dedication is needed for a career in the performing arts.

"I did a few summer schools with the Youth of Banbury Operatic Society and a couple of pantos with the Banbury Cross Players and I also played violin with the Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra which also gave me some incredible performance opportunities such as playing at the Royal Albert Hall for the Youth Proms.”

Rosie has paid tribute to her parents who enabled her to take every opportunity available, spending hours ferrying her from club to club and rehearsal to rehearsal.

Rosie Wyatt as The Papergirl in the current RSC Christmas production, The Box of Delights. Picture by Manuel Harlan RSCRosie Wyatt as The Papergirl in the current RSC Christmas production, The Box of Delights. Picture by Manuel Harlan RSC
Rosie Wyatt as The Papergirl in the current RSC Christmas production, The Box of Delights. Picture by Manuel Harlan RSC

“It was when I was at sixth form in Stratford-upon-Avon, studying for Theatre Studies AS Level, that I began to take the idea of becoming a professional actor seriously. I began going to see plays at the RSC really regularly; as drama students we got tickets for £3.50 and there were so many productions I found so inspiring - I just knew it was I wanted to do.

"There was a professional RSC production rehearsing at the same time as us at The Swan Theatre and we got to meet the actors in that production. Anton Lesser was starring as Leontes and was really encouraging. I'm so grateful to have had this encouragement when I was young, as it felt like such a leap from life in Banbury to imagine I could one day be acting at the RSC like them,” said Rosie.

“While I was a student in Stratford I saw The Comedy of Errors performed by students of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and I was so impressed I thought ‘that's where I want to train’.

"It was a risk as I knew they favoured students from Wales and only took on 20 students a year but I was so thrilled to get in.

The Duchess of Musborough, played by Banbury actor Rosie Wyatt in the RSC Christmas production The Box of Delights. Picture by Manuel Harlan RSCThe Duchess of Musborough, played by Banbury actor Rosie Wyatt in the RSC Christmas production The Box of Delights. Picture by Manuel Harlan RSC
The Duchess of Musborough, played by Banbury actor Rosie Wyatt in the RSC Christmas production The Box of Delights. Picture by Manuel Harlan RSC

“I always thought that my career would mainly be classical work but so far I have done almost exclusively new and modern plays. I've performed two one-woman plays, toured the country many times and been lucky enough to perform in New York, India, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Germany.

“It was really special performing the one-woman play Spine by Clara Brennan at the Burton Taylor Studio in Oxford and I had a really special time doing the David Hare play Skylight at The Theatre Chipping Norton directed by the artistic director John Terry.”

Rosie was asked to join The Box of Delights production by director Justin Audibert, with whom she had worked before.

“He's a wonderful, fun and energetic person and he has a great skill of bringing together excellent groups of people to make a play together.

Rosie Wyatt pictured in rehearsal for The Box of Delights. Picture by Manuel HarlanRosie Wyatt pictured in rehearsal for The Box of Delights. Picture by Manuel Harlan
Rosie Wyatt pictured in rehearsal for The Box of Delights. Picture by Manuel Harlan

“We're all freelancers but I would be really hopeful that I get the opportunity to return to work here again. I'm yet to do a professional Shakespeare production and it would be incredible to get the bite of that cherry at the home of Shakespeare.”

“The Box of Delights has been different to many plays I've done as it includes such a huge ensemble, working together to set a scene, create a world, take the audience on a magical journey. It involves lots of costume changes and running around backstage whereas I'd usually be focussing on the through-line of one character's journey,” said Rosie.

“There are so many people involved - set designers and builders, video, sound and lighting designers, costume designers, composer, writer and dramaturg.

"There were a couple of real 'pinch me' moments once we were rehearsing here in Stratford, such as our first call where we sang with the full band who play with us every night – and the first time going up to the wig department and seeing the two beautiful wigs handmade just for me!

“There are so many incredible team members who are true experts in their fields, for example voice and text coach Stephen Kemble who guides you through using your voice in the huge 1000 seat theatre and working with the British Sign Language expert Clare Edwards.”

Early on the cast adopted an 'angels' scheme where each was given a cast member to look out for and secretly leave little gifts for or notes of encouragement.

The Christmas show The Box of Delights plays at the RSC, Stratford-on-Avon, until January 7The Christmas show The Box of Delights plays at the RSC, Stratford-on-Avon, until January 7
The Christmas show The Box of Delights plays at the RSC, Stratford-on-Avon, until January 7

"We're having lots of fun together doing this show and as we'll be together over the Christmas period it's really nice that we are close and enjoying one another's company,” said Rosie.

To see backstage at The Box of Delights visit this page.

The Box of Delights runs until January 7. To book tickets go to https://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/

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