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Flashback Holds Workshop and Reading for Play about Local Historical Figure Rose Will-Monroe

The cast of Rosies line up to flex their workshop muscles reminiscent of Rosie the Riveter.

Photo courtesy of Chris Harris, Commonwealth Journal

On Saturday, August 12, actors from Flashback Theater Co. (FbTC) will produce a semi-staged reading of Rosies at Station 211 on Main St. in downtown Somerset, Kentucky. The play was inspired by the life of Rose Will-Monroe, a Science Hill native known nationally as the face of Rosie the Riveter. The semi-staged reading is a result of a daily workshop held the week of July 24th – 28th.

The play was written by local playwright, Amber Frangos, and has been part of a months-long development process. The development of the play was supported by a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, with the reading being the culminating event for the project.

“My hope is the process will mold Rosies into a piece of work that illustrates the importance women played in WWII and the sacrifices they made to do so,” says Frangos. “I wanted to write about Rose Will Monroe because she had so many things in common with contemporary women. She was a single mother during pre-World War II; she worked full time, raised two daughters, and became Rosie the Riveter to boot!”

The most recent part of the development process was the week long workshop. FbTC held daily sessions with actors of the Let’s Play! company, working through each scene of the play with the guidance of Amanda Balltrip as director. Frangos was at each session, watching and listening to her words come to life.

The play development process began in January with playwright Amber Frangos and FbTC founder Sommer Schoch reviewing the first draft. “Amber and I met three times to go over revisions prior to the July workshop,” said Schoch. “My focus was to make sure the play tells a story that a director and actors would be able to dig into and that the audience would feel drawn to.” 

Balancing the historical nature of the main character with a story that is relatable to modern audiences is no small task, but the workshop team felt that is exactly what was accomplished. The play is based on the life of Rose Will-Monroe, but creative license is taken in regards to event timelines and some small details in order to tie elements of her story together to fit the theatrical format. The result is a play with characters that represent the stages of women’s progress in the 20th century. 

From the very first moment of the workshop, it was clear to everyone in the room that the play was special. Balltrip described the feeling,  “A really beautiful moment happened when we were reading the first scene. I looked around the room to see it full of women taking charge. And that’s what Rosies is about. Women helping women.”

While most of the actors shifted between characters each day to meet the needs of the scene being worked that day, the title character of Rose was played all week by Theresa Jean Kibby.  “I was excited to see Rosies take shape over the week and it was difficult not to get emotionally attached to such strong female characters. We actors became as impassioned as Amber (the playwright) to make sure the tone and story came across perfectly.”

The play’s next stage of development will be the semi-staged reading to be held on August 12 at 7:00 p.m. on the lower level of Station 211. The reading is presented as part of FbTC’s Let’s Play! series, which is Flashback’s monthly education series of workshops. 

The future life of Rosies will include a full scale production with Flashback Theater next May, marking almost 18 months of process before the curtain goes up. “It is a long process to write, develop, and produce this play,” notes Schoch. However, this is a pretty typical timeframe for a well-written play. “And it usually takes three full productions before the playwright stops tweaking,” Schoch adds.

Flashback Theater is grateful for season sponsor, Applied Behavioral Advancements LLC, for making the passionate pursuit of theater possible all season long and to the Kentucky Foundation for Women for supporting this new work.

Performance Details

Saturday, August 12 at 7:00 p.m.

Station211 (lower level)

211 S. Main St. Street Somerset, Kentucky

Free admission | Donations accepted at door

For More Information

Visit www.flashbacktheater.co or call (888) 394-FbTC.

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