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Remembering “Rosebud – The Lives of Orson Welles”

In August 2004 whilst looking for shows to attend at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe I happened upon a poster for a one-man show entitled “Rosebud – The Lives of Orson Welles”. Being a huge Orson Welles fan I immediately bought tickets.  The play was amazing, in fact I was in tears at the end – the actor Christian McKay made me believe I was in the presence of the master himself. I felt compelled to go backstage and speak to Christian to thank him for a most remarkable theatrical experience. The show went on to receive terrific reviews.

“Rosebud – The Lives of Orson Welles” – Original leaflet from the Edinburgh Festival Production in August 2004.

After the Festival, the show went on tour, and I went to see it again, with friends in tow, at the Clocktower Theatre in Croydon in April 2005. By that time I had got to know Christian and we met at the theatre bar after for a drink.  I proposed that I would like to film a subsequent performance, interview him on camera and make an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) to pitch it as a television production. Christian agreed, so we agreed on a performance at the Trinity Arts Centre in Tunbridge Wells later that month.

Although we did raise some interest, the television production was never made, however the videos posted on YouTube were watched by film director Richard Linklater who was casting for his movie “Me and Orson Welles”.  Linklater was so impressed by the videos he flew to New York to watch Christian perform at an off-Broadway festival Rosebud was being showcased at. Christian won the role (over the Producer’s preference, Heath Ledger!) and Christian was nominated for a BAFTA, and numerous other awards for his performance.

As part of the pre-publicity the film production company asked me to take the videos down from YouTube, as a courtesy, so that Christian’s stunning performance would be a pleasant surprise for everyone, which I happily did.

Here are the videos I directed and edited – re-mastered, with the interview that was never released on YouTube:

The DVD Electronic Press Kit

The videos were posted on YouTube, and a DVD was produced to both promote the potential television project, and also to help attract interest for the stage production. As the Stephen Spielberg production of “War of the Worlds” was being released we retitled the TV pitch “The Wars of Orson Welles”.

Main Menu Screen from the DVD Electronic Press Kit of “Rosebud – The Wars of Orson Welles”.

Production Credits

Producer/Director/Editor Stuart Arnott

Lighting Cameraman Malcolm Edmonds

Filming Date Saturday 30 April 2005

Location Trinity Arts Centre, Royal Tunbridge Wells

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