Trinity Theatre in Cowes is putting on a production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, which was written by volunteer Tony Collard and his wife Rosie before she died at the Hospice 2 years ago.
The writing of the panto began in 1988, Tony recalled:
“We were both aware at the time that a lot of pantomime scripts were dated. Many didn’t have parts for women, and yet it’s mainly women that want to go onstage. So, we decided to have a go ourselves. Rosie directed the first time it was performed and I stage-managed it. The audiences loved the show and we even had to put on extra nights to cope with demand. It was incredibly rewarding!
“Rosie loved being on the stage, but from 1989 she found aside from going on stage, she loved directing and she ended up directing seven shows. She was a fantastic leader, everyone in the theatre had great respect for her”.
Tony said learning of Rosie’s illness brought them closer together;
“Neither of us wanted to know any prognosis; we were absolutely intent on living day by day and getting the most out of life. We shared so much, we were extremely close and when this happened we got even closer.”
For the last months of life, Tony cared for Rosie at home but for her final few days she was cared for on the Inpatient Unit at the Hospice. It’s the experience of that care that Tony now tries to replicate when volunteering on the unit:
“I’ve got a caring nature, I try to be self-aware. If I see someone in distress, whether it be a fear or an anxiety, I can I try and satisfy it. Sometimes it’s a chat, or cup of tea or even a joke – my sense of humour is appalling, but sometimes it helps!
“I wouldn’t really be able to say why I volunteer, other than it feels right to be here. It’s something so profound”.
When the curtain goes up at Trinity Theatre later this week for the pantomime Tony and Rosie penned together, he will be watching with great pride in the audience.
Beauty and the Beast is billed as ‘a traditional, family-friendly pantomime telling a great story, specially written for Trinity Theatre’. Performances are at 19:30 on Friday 2nd and 9th December, and at 14:30 on Saturday 3rd, 10th and Sunday 13th December.
For ticket information visit www.caods.org.uk A contribution from the pantomime’s takings will be given to Earl Mountbatten Hospice.