By Michael J. Solender
Words flow from Stacey Rose like three-pointers at the NBA All-Star Game. Fast, with soaring arcs, and always on target. Rose writes for television, film and theater and the words fashioned by this gifted artist show no sign of abating.
If anything, Rose is just beginning to hit her stride. She recently penned her debut episode for the hot FOX drama television series “9-1-1” and now contributes regularly. Her work as a playwright has garnered numerous awards, including those from the Kilroys List, the Burman New Play Award, The Goldberg Prize, a Women’s Commissioning Grant from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
“I’ve always felt a pull towards theater since I was a child growing up in Elizabeth, New Jersey,” says Rose, who has long made Charlotte her home. “It stayed with me, I guess, on some subconscious level. And then the first time I remember sitting in a theater and having a show blow me away to the point of tears is probably ‘The Color Purple.’ It was an overwhelming experience, an emotionally overwhelming experience, especially since having a relationship with the film.”
Rose says the power of theatrical performance stuck with her and planted a seed for where she would ultimately go with her talents.
“I never dared to think I can write a musical,” says Rose. “What got me into playwriting is when Bob Johnson sold BET to Viacom. I wrote my first play about that because I was so angry about the sale – I wrote a satire about it. It was the first play I ever wrote, but it took a while for me to identify as a playwright.”
She attended grad school at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, held numerous fellowships and residencies and worked with industry heavyweights, including serving as a writer’s assistant for Spike Lee.
Once Rose committed her voice to the page there was no holding her back. Though she’s both directed and produced plays for the theater, generating new stories on the page for the stage is what she’s most passionate about.
“I began taking playwriting seriously during my time at UNC Charlotte,” says Rose. “There is something very sacred about both written word that lives on the page. And the written word that is intended to be performed. The written word on the page is blazing in intention, and sometimes that intention is outward facing. And sometimes that intention is meant to be shared with the world, elevated, and moved around in a specific way. The film or television or stage where you’re supposed to engage an audience. In all these mediums, you engage audiences in a different way.”
In 2020, Rose received an ASC Creative Renewal Fellowship. She is using her fellowship and her creative energy to develop budding talent here in the QC. Together with Martin Damien Wilkins, a freelance director, Rose launched the Queen City New Play Initiative and serves as artistic director.
“The most meaningful experiences I had as a writer was with play development organizations,” says Rose, specifically the Playwrights’ Center. “We are growing Queen City New Play Initiative into a satellite Playwrights’ Center of sorts.”
Rose and her colleague are offering roundtables where new plays are workshopped, play readings and theater process overviews for playwrights. Though the initiative began around the time the pandemic was locking down activity, she’s upbeat about a reboot.
“I can’t wait for things to open back up more so I can get a better sense of who’s here and who’s making theater here,” says Rose. “This allows me to create something that will hopefully get Charlotte excited about telling stories for the stage and curious about it.
“Engaging nationally in the conversation around the creation of new plays is something that will live long beyond me. There’s a legacy of new play culture that I want to leave Charlotte with, because I love that so much, I’m positive it can happen here.”