I’m Laura, Programme Director at Oxford Playhouse. This means I have the lucky job of picking the shows we put on our main stage, studio theatre and across the city as part of Playhouse Plays Out. We search far and wide to bring world class, ambitious, inspiring performance to Oxfordshire and today, after a rather wintery week, I’m pleased to introduce the line-up for our jam-packed Summer Season!
For those who love classic dramas, there is a plethora of options for you, beginning with Agatha Christie's rarely seen thriller Love From a Stranger, from the creators of critically acclaimed Dial M for Murder. English Touring Theatre bring their bold new revival of Tennessee Williams timeless masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire. UK treasures Robert Powell and Liza Goddard star in a new gripping thriller, Sherlock Holmes: The Final Curtain as Holmes and Mary Watson, while Hollywood and Broadway legend Stephanie Powers portrays Helen Hanff in a new production of 84 Charing Cross Road.
For something truly special, Oxford Playhouse is the only venue outside London to host internationally renowned Cheek By Jowl’s exceptional new production of Pericles, Prince De Tyr - don’t miss the chance to see this rarely performed play brought to life but this extraordinary company. We are also delighted to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War with the critically acclaimed Birdsong based on the world-famous novel by Sebastian Faulkes. Ian Hislop’s hilarious 5 star hit The Wipers Times is also back by popular demand after a sell-out run last year.
If you enjoy something a bit different, Kneehigh join us with Emma Rice’s beautifully theatrical Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, celebrating the life and love of Marc and Bella Chagall. Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre also bring with their riotous reinterpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream after its critically acclaimed London run. You can also discover a love for something new in Offbeat, Oxford's festival for new work which returns for the 3rd year running, bringing 60 shows of boundary pushing, genre bending, thought provoking performance.
For Shakespeare fans, and an unmissable cultural highlight of the Oxford Summer, Shakespeare’s Globe return for a two-week run at the Bodleian Library, this time with a triple bill – The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night and The Taming of The Shrew.
Circus lovers, we bring you an experience like no other to Oxpens Meadow with Now or Never as part of nationwide celebrations celebrating 250 years of modern circus. Under a star studded big top, Circus Tsuica, a band of internationally acclaimed acrobat brass musicians, have travelled from their home in Paris to share an exhilarating feast of flying fun for all the senses. Gandini Juggling and Alexander Whitley also fuse contemporary dance and virtuoso juggling in their wondrous transcendent spectacle, Spring.
For families, there are a number of weekend treats in March and April with Glisten, our baby show for under 18months from Playhouse Associate Daniel Naddafy, and Lyngo Theatre return with Tom Thumb for 3 +. We have not one, but TWO 5-star Easter holiday surprises for you; George's Marvellous Medicine promises to be an adventure bursting with froth bubbling potion fun, while One Small Step is an action-packed journey into space from our intimate Burton Taylor Studio. You can also drop into our fabulous Marvellous Inventions Lab for free and check out our holiday workshops. Dinosaurs will then be roaring onto our stage in May half term in our Jurassic adventure Dinosaur World for all ages; followed by Rumpelstiltskin, a new ballet for 7+ from world class dancers BalletLORENT and Carol Ann Duffy. Over the Summer holidays, Julia Donaldson’s Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales will be brought to life with live music, puppetry and a host of colourful characters.
VOTE100 is our year-long festival of events featuring women’s stories, past present and future. Headlining this is On The March, a new play looking at the battles for women’s rights over the last century, written by award winning playwright Claire Bayley and performed by our stunning 17-25 Young Company at the Oxford Town Hall. Other highlights include Deborah Frances White’s The Guilty Feminist, Bridget Christie, and an all-female season in the Burton Taylor Studio. Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish explore the history of women’s football in Offside and Proto-type Theatre show us how the collective power of a nation can move a mountain in The Audit. There are personal powerful stories from emerging artists Urielle Klein Mekongo, Helen Seymore and Yolanda Mercy while Natalie Cutler’s Not Yet Suffragette, Sophie Willan, Janice Connelly (Barbara Nice), and Samantha Baines provide hilarity and inspiration in equal measure. We will also be running a number of open forums and events as part of this series – contact me at email@example.com if you would like to get involved.
In comedy news, the company who have taken the world by storm with the laugh a minute hit The Play That Goes Wrong bring their new 5-star rip roaring improvised show Mischief Movie Night direct from the West End. Alongside Bridget Christie and The Guilty Feminist, we will be hosting our very own comedy night as part of Offbeat, hosted by Ed Gamble, starring Sara Pascoe, Phil Wang and Lauren Pattison.
We will be hosting music events as part of Ashmolean Museum’s American Cool Festival - Sarah Gabriel explores the life of writer and poet Dorothy Parker in Dorothy Parker Takes a Trip and Neil Brand welcomes you to the world of early cinema in The Silent Pianist Speaks.
We also present the best of leading local companies. Oxford Theatre Guild return to the Playhouse with a striking production of The Life of Galileo. Oxford University Students will delight with their energetic take on Tom Stoppard’s extraordinary tale of political and artistic rebellion, Travesties and top local comedy talent The Oxford Revue return for their annual showcase. Musical Youth Company Oxford present an exciting new production of the ground-breaking rock opera Godspell while Magdalen College School Theatre Academy reimagine Peter Pan.
Looking ahead, we give you a tiny glimpse into a very special Autumn Season where we will be celebrating our 80th Birthday. Since opening our doors in October 1938, we look back over 80 years of stories and theatrical greats who have tread our stages; and look forward with those who will be helping us shaping the next 80 years. To open this special season, we are delighted to be co-producing Othello with English Touring Theatre. English Touring Theatre first appeared on the Playhouse stage 25 years ago with a young Alan Cummings playing Hamlet and have been a cornerstone of our programme ever since. This is the first of 4 special co-productions as part of our 80th Birthday Season with full details to be announced in June.
So, just a few shows then….I hope you enjoy it Oxfordshire!