News Story

Oxford Playhouse is thrilled to announce that its Summer 2024 co-production with University of Oxford students in association with the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor & Drama Funds and St Catherine’s College, Oxford will be Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Sir Gregory Doran.

The production will play on the Main Stage at Oxford Playhouse from Wednesday 15 May to Saturday 18 May 2024.

Greg is the current Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at the University of Oxford. An outstanding Shakespearian with an illustrious career, he was Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2012 to 2022. The first Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor to direct a student production as part of his tenure, he has chosen one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The only title in the First Folio that Greg is yet to direct, this production will mark his completion of Shakespeare’s canon of dramatic work. Of the upcoming production, he said:

“Two Gents explores the challenges of young people setting out in the world - leaving home, trying to make their way, falling in love, making mistakes. As students have that lived experience, it is vital that how the production looks and sounds and feels reflects that experience.”

Commenting on his appointment as Visiting Professor he said:

"I am chuffed and honoured to take up the Cam Mac Visiting Professorship, and to work with the students. It is a privilege to be able to share your passion. As Shakespeare says ‘To business that we love we rise betime and go to’t with delight.’”

Artistic Director and CEO of Oxford Playhouse Mike Tweddle said:

“We couldn’t be more excited for the students working on The Two Gentlemen of Verona as they collaborate with an outstanding Shakespearian and exceptional director. We look forward to working with them and Sir Greg on this unique project to make this a very special moment for Oxford. All our team at Oxford Playhouse are proud to co-produce with Oxford University students - who bring inspirational ideas and talent to our theatre. Through this model, each term our different departments collaborate with student creatives and producers to support them in realising their ambitions.”

The Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professorship, attached to St Catherine’s College, Oxford, was established in 1990 thanks to a generous gift from leading British theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh. The position is held for one year by a significant figure in the world of theatre. American musical theatre composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim was the first to hold the role and successive visiting professors have included Arthur Miller, Thelma Holt CBE, Dame Diane Rigg DBE, Sir Nicholas Hytner, Meera Syal MBE, Stephen Fry and Adjoa Andoh. Greg is the 29th Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor.

Professor Kersti Börjars, Master of St Catherine’s College, Oxford said:

“St Catherine’s College’s long association with the Cameron Mackintosh Professorship enables students from across the university to engage with world-class theatre makers such as Sir Gregory Doran, and we are delighted to support this production as well as the associated workshops and talks.”

Student Producer Ava Smith said:

“Working with Greg, Oxford Playhouse and such a talented group of students to produce Two Gents has been an incredibly inspiring experience. I hope the audience enjoys it as much as we have loved making it.”

Every year, Oxford Playhouse works with University of Oxford student producers on a co-production model to present work on the Main Stage. The co-producing model, supported by the Cameron Mackintosh Drama Fund, affords students the opportunity to gain experience in performance, design, technical and stage management within a professional working theatre environment, and to be mentored by and work collaboratively with industry professionals.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays and also one of the most rarely performed. The drama unfolds around themes of love, betrayal, disguise and finally reconciliation.

“Except I be by Silvia in the night,

There is no music in the Nightingale”

What happens when you fall in love with your best friend’s girlfriend?

This modern retelling follows Valentine, as he moves from his home in small town Verona, to the exciting city of Milan and falls in love with wealthy heiress Silvia. Meanwhile Valentine’s best friend Proteus, leaves behind his girlfriend Julia, and follows him to Milan. Things become complicated when Proteus becomes obsessed with Silvia.

A complex tale of passion and disguise unfolds as young adults navigate desire, consent, and the limits of friendship.

Directed by Gregory Doran and brought to life by Oxford University students.