Jennifer Marsden, the creator of Knights of the Rose, is a qualified barrister, yet she has always been interested in theatre. She began writing Knights of the Rose over eight years ago. Here she shares her love for poetry, verse, rock music and, most of all, theatre.
Coming from a background in law to creating a new West End Classic Rock Musical, tell me where did the inspiration behind Knights of the Rose come from?
Being a barrister has a theatrical element and makes you aware of the power of words and the art of persuasion. I have always had an interest in theatre and was a member of a local opera company. I believe these factors along with my love of verse, rock music and history all fuelled the creation of Knights of the Rose.
Knights of the Rose is a fusion of many elements including popular culture, rock music, literature from Marlowe, Shakespeare and Chaucer. So, how much research did you have to do to make it all come together?
I wrote the story before choosing the music. Many of the quotes were memorised from school days or from my love of poetry and verse over the years.
The most research was in choosing the music to reflect the emotion of a scene. I wanted the theatrical nature of powerful rock music to demonstrate the power and strength of the warrior knights.
What kind of challenges did you come across when writing and creating Knights of the Rose?
Creating Knights of the Rose was a joy from start to finish. The greatest challenge was obtaining approval for the music and then finding producers willing to consider a new work by an unknown writer.
Was it hard choosing which songs and artists (including Bon Jovi, Bonnie Tyler, Meatloaf and No Doubt) to use?
Yes, in certain scenes. Some compositions, especially the classical pieces, immediately came to mind, but others took a good deal of time and thought as they had to truly belong.
I wanted to ensure that the songs didn’t just help to tell the tale, but bring it to life; really capturing the mood of the scene. And of course, you also want songs that the audience will relate to and enjoy.
How do you want the audience to feel once they’ve seen Knights of the Rose?
To feel that they have had a great night of entertainment; if they also feel encouraged and uplifted I would be delighted.
Have you been at rehearsals with the cast and director Racky Plews? If so, how are rehearsals going?
Yes I have. What a privilege! Rehearsals are going incredibly well. We have a great cast and Racky is a genius of musical theatre. Everyone seems to be so enjoying the process and we can’t wait until opening night.
What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to write their own musical?
Make sure you write from the heart, with the intention of benefitting others rather than yourself. After that, patience and perseverance! To quote one of our anthems by The Hollies, ‘it’s a long, long road…’
Knights of the Rose: A New West End Classic Rock Musical (a tale of betrayal, love, bloodshed and redemption) is showing at The Arts Theatre from 29 June to 26 August. Click here to prebook your tickets.
[Header image: Image of Jennifer Marsden taken by Mark Dawson.]