Memories, stories, photos - we want to hear from you!
We have started searching far and wide for the stories that make Oxford Playhouse unique, the shows that you have seen with families and friends, your first memory of Oxford Playhouse, a project you may have been in, a favourite character – whatever pops to your mind when we ask – What does Oxford Playhouse mean to you?
The team at Oxford Playhouse are creating a collection of Playhouse memories and we want to hear from you - our community.
Were you part of our Young Company programme? Was your first date in our auditorium? Maybe your first ever time in a theatre was at Oxford Playhouse! Whatever it is - our team would like to know about it!
You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a sentence, a paragraph, a photo from a previous visit, a voice recording or a video. We will, with your permission, share some of these stories with our wider audience on our website and social media channels, so we can remember why Oxford Playhouse is so special together.
We hope you will join us in this exciting project.
Richard Gladstone - Oxford Playhouse Friend & Volunteer
'For many years I have been a keen supporter of The Playhouse ( OP ). I have given a regular donation each year and done voluntary work in the Administration office.
My first ever visit in the early 1970s was when I worked for British Rail and we helped with some props for the set of a production of ‘ The Signalman’s Apprentice ‘. Since then I have enjoyed many good productions over the years. Among the most memorable of these are ‘ Journey’s End ‘, ‘ Blackbird ‘, ‘ Kindertransport ‘, ‘ Things I Know To Be True ‘, ‘ One Small Step ‘, ‘ User Not Found ‘, ‘Brief Encounter ‘ and Idle Motion’s ‘ That Is All You Need to Know ‘.
One particularly memorable day recently was when I was taken out to lunch on the occasion of my 80th birthday. I and ten other close colleagues had a convivial lunch after which we adjourned back to OP for coffee in the small meeting room. While there the Director announced, to my astonishment, that it had been decided to name the room ‘ The Richard Gladstone Room ‘ and a sign on the door was ceremonially unveiled. This was to recognize my long service as a donor and volunteer. I was humbled and felt greatly honoured.
Regarding the above mentioned honour I would like to mention here that OP is fortunate that it has many other loyal and enthusiastic volunteers working Front of House. Some of these have been there for many years and I know they are greatly valued.
Over the many years of my time at OP it has become like a second family for me. The regular staff who I have worked with have all been very kind and supportive. Several of these have become close friends.
I can honestly say that my involvement with this wonderful centre of the arts has been very rewarding'.
"I loved working at the Oxford Playhouse, one of our most vibrant and exciting theatres in the country. The theatre needs our help more than ever now – and it simply must survive."
"Save The Oxford Playhouse! This historic theatre was the first professional stage I set foot on in my childhood and continues to give an inspiring platform for young people in the community and beyond. The theatre is now dark for the foreseeable future because of Covid-19, please help support this beloved space so it can continue to bring light to its community in the future."
“As well as programming a genuinely eclectic range of content that isn't driven simply by the market, Oxford Playhouse is a valuable community resource, and keeps ticket prices low enough to encourage wider access. I am proud to be a patron. It has survived both WWII and Sir John Gielgud, and must also survive the current crisis.”
"We spoke to James about this and he was very enthusiastic to help, given that the OP has had such a big influence on him and has been such a big part of his life.
James put together a very short video."
"Mum took me to see Macbeth when I was a teenager. I am now 56 years old.
She planted the seed, I subsequently went to the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama."
“We have attended every pantomime at the Playhouse for the last 15 years. We always choose the Sunday performance before Christmas which kicks off our Christmas holidays. This picture is our pantomime group and we are all desperately hoping this year’s performance will go ahead.”
The Revd Anderson
"In December 1967, I, then an undergraduate at Magdalen College, took the girlfriend that I had just met, herself an undergraduate at Lady Margaret Hall, to a performance at the Playhouse. It was a memorable occasion. I forget the play, but remember my lovely companion!
We have just celebrated our Golden Wedding. We have now retired to Oxford, and resumed our regular attendances at the Playhouse.
What a special place it has meant, and continues to mean, to us!"
"The Oxford Playhouse was the first theatre I ever went to. I grew up in Oxford and my father had a shop on Little Clarendon Street. He was happy to put Playhouse posters up on his shop door to advertise the productions and in return, the theatre gave him a little white card that said: This card entitles the holder to two free tickets to every Oxford Playhouse production on a Monday or Tuesday.
My father wasn't a theatre-goer and he gave the card to me. I was 13 at the time. So I started going regularly to the Playhouse to see all kinds of theatre - Chekhov, Lorca, Arthur Miller, student Shakespeare, modern dance, Jacobean tragedy, Brecht, Alan Ayckbourn, etc, etc. I saw plays I would never have seen if I had been paying every time. I have since been to many different theatres but the Oxford Playhouse will always be a special place and I am grateful for the little white card that opened my eyes to a whole new world! My father isn't alive any more but I still remember reading those Playhouse posters on his shop door and deciding which plays I wanted to see. And I still love going to the theatre."
"In the 1970's I followed my two older sisters and worked as an usherette and later behind the bar at the Oxford Playhouse. We loved working there, especially seeing some of the wonderful productions and occasionally meeting the amazing actors. My most memorable thrill was working backstage for a week guiding Dame Edith Evans onto the stage in the dark. I will attach a photo of the programme she signed for me."
"When I was 8, 9 and 10 years old I was fortunate enough to be part of the children’s company in the pantomimes Mother Goose, Dick Whittington and Robin Hood. Each Christmas season saw many hours in the Playhouse with other keen performers just as bubbly and thrilled to be part of something special as I was. I will forever be proud of those childhood memories on the stage bursting with colour and energy as I proudly sang, danced and acted my heart out it in such a beautiful venue. The Oxford Playhouse is so much more than a building to me; it holds wonderful memories to be cherished for the rest of my life."
"It is our favourite and first choice theatre. Such a fabulous atmosphere, great staff, great vibe, beautiful furnishings. Coffee in the cafe is good. A great night out, if I had money right now I would definitely invest. Please stay 🙏"
"When I was a student, I saw my room mate as Don John in Much Ado About Nothing at the Playhouse. I saw my son play Pippin there with Oxfordshire Musical Youth Theatre. I saw my daughter dance Rapunzel with balletLORENT, a giant poster of her above the entrance. I now take my granddaughters to the Playhouse. I hope one day they will take their grandchildren."
"I attended the Grammar School in Henley-on-Thames. The school arranged several excursions to the Playhouse for the pupils. In 1966 we were bussed to the theatre to see “The Promise”. It was a play I found immensely moving and the images of the splendid minimalist set and some scenes remain in my mind’s eye to this day. Little did we know that we were watching three fantastic actors at the beginning of their careers nor that the play would go on to be such a success. Have to say I thought then they were good!"
"The Oxford Playhouse was my first professional job - the lead in "The Bad Samaritan" by William Douglas Home, and we opened in Dublin at the Olympia Theatre before the run at the Playhouse. It changed my life. I had already done much acting and writing as an Oxford student - including a controversial Hamlet, directing and playing the lead - but, the wonderful Playhouse experience dedicated me to the theatre for life. I since worked with the RSC and the National - again in Hamlet but with Daniel Day Lewis in the title role, with Judi Dench as his mother.
Touring with various plays round the UK has brought me back to the Playhouse again from time to time - and the memory of those wonderful starting days always come flooding back. Playhouse, I love you!"
"I became a regular at the Oxford Playhouse in the mid 1960s when I joined the Oxford Playhouse Theatre Club. Preview tickets for club members were just 2/6 (12.5p)! Over a couple of years I saw Judi Dench, Leonard Rossiter, Sheila Hancock, James Laurenson and many others in a fantastic range of repertory theatre."
"A lot of memories of being a kid and seeing the Panto every Christmas with my family and school. I remember very distinctly being about 8 years old during a performance of Jack and The Beanstalk and being called on stage to sing with the Pantomime Dame. I used to spend every moment I had before, during the interval and after the show walking around the theatre, going up to the stage and trying to look round backstage as much as I was allowed. It was magical. Visiting places like The Oxford Playhouse now is like going back to my roots and remembering where I first fell in love with performing."
"The Playhouse holds a very special place in my heart, it was the place where I saw my first ever show which was the pantomime in 2007. It is such a beautiful building and I love seeing shows there.
I have seen some of my favourite pieces of theatre there, including seeing my favourite show, Six for the first time last November and having the privilege of seeing Ian McKellen there last year. I have attended the pantomime every year on New Year's Eve since 2007 and it is always one of my highlights of the year.
(I have attached some photos of my favourite memories at the Playhouse)"
"Three important Playhouse Memories.
In approx 1962, as a young teenage girl I went to see Jeremy Brett three times in one week - Hamlet probably
First date with my future husband - I invited him to see Jarry’s play Ubu Roi in French with the actors dressed as vegetables. I thought it would give me some cultural credit. My future husband nodded off.
Working as an usher for a few years, where I saw a huge variety of wonderful productions.
Good luck Oxford Playhouse, I miss you!"
Paula, Shaun & Sam
"Here is a photo from the final show of all the Cast and Crew from last years Panto Beauty and the Beast , which our son Sam was one of the young Cast for . He had the most amazing experience getting to perform every other day on stage at the OPH from November to January. Every member of the Cast and Crew and Chaperones helped him enjoy each rehearsal and show. He learnt so much from the Professional Actors, which has cemented his dream to hopefully be an Actor himself one day, and he hopes to tread the OPH boards again."
"I have ushered at the Oxford Playhouse for almost sixteen years. I have loved everything about it: the regular patrons, the Front of House staff and my fellow ushers some of whom have become good friends. Also the wide and diverse performances that I have seen over the years.
I have loved introducing my grandchildren to the theatre: to the pantomimes and children’s shows and the excitement of Granny serving them ice creams!
The theatre is a second home to me and I miss it.
I am just thankful that my last visit, the week before the theatre closed, was for Pride and Prejudice (sort of). I have never seen an audience leaving the theatre with such big smiles on their faces. It was what theatre should be all about!
Looking forward to the OP opening its doors again when it is safe to do so."
"I first came to the theatre to watch the pantomime Cinderella, when I was 5 years old. More recently I watched Peter Pan in Scarlet which was brilliant! In November 2019 I watched SIX. All the queens were absolutely amazing!!! Following that I was thrilled to be on the stage in the Young Company for Beauty and the Beast and had the best time ever! I met some of the loveliest people. I’m really hoping your beautiful theatre can open again soon and I’m so looking forward to the Robin Hood Panto this Christmas...oh yes I am!"
"Oxford Playhouse must be saved!!!
I have been attending Oxford Playhouse since my early teenage years and can remember many wonderful performances. One of the performances I remember from 2019 is Napoli Brooklyn. I visited with two friends and we had a great time. Below is the wonderfully crafted stage and the three of us very much enjoying the play.
Looking forward to seeing plays at Oxford Playhouse again soon."
"I think this play was Shaw’s masterpiece.
I attend its performance every possible chance, driving up from London for this one. Hoping the Oxford Playhouse has another production as soon as can be. Very fond memories of this 2017 one. Shaw still has much to teach, always best on the stage, however, this play can be read quietly in an armchair and come to life off the pages, too.
Sending love & appreciation to your stage. 💗🎭💗🎭💗🎭💗🎭💗🎭💗🎭💗🎭"
"I have very fond memories of the Playhouse. When I was about 8 years old I took part in my first pantomime Cinderella. The panto was produced by Frank Shelly and ran for six weeks. I loved every minute of it and couldn’t wait to get to the Playhouse for each show. Just to take part was a wonderful experience and so enjoyable I will never forget it. I then went on and took part in Mother Goose the following year and also the War of the Roses."
"So many memories..... being young and going to the pantomime every year with my gran and mum, they getting to work in the box office, and duty manage shifts at the BT studio.... some of my favourite times have been there, including celebrating my birthday watching George's marvellous medicine :-) I was like 20 something but still loved every minute :-) stay safe and keep strong everyone at the Oxford playhouse."
"My memories of Oxford Playhouse. I have to confess the first time I visited you was when my daughter was 4 - 2005. Hubby & I took her to see the panto. This was to be the start of her love for drama & theatre. Over the years since I have seen more panto's, numerous plays, a few musicals & a couple of operas at Oxford Playhouse. As my daughter's love of all things performance related encouraged me to take her to see all different types of productions at your lovely theatre & increased my love of it too. At the age of 14, Iszy joined Oxford Playhouse Young Company 12:16 & later 17:25. Last year I had the most memorable occasion of watching her perform on your stage as Nell in the company's production of Nell Gwynn under the wonderful direction of Jo Noble. Sadly we missed several productions this spring due to Covid 19. I requested that you keep the money you would have refunded me as a donation to help during these hard times. Thank you for entertaining us over the years. Thank you for all that you have done to encourage young people like my daughter & give them the experience of performing in front of an audience. I look forward to the day when these return."
"I was at school in Oxford and age 16 had my mind blown by Junk (Oxford Stage Co) and then again by Shared Experience’s Jane Eyre. Blown away and changed what I felt theatre was."
"If I’m honest it means Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to me. Also my son attended Beauty and the Beast last Christmas. All your staff were wonderful as my son is autistic and was distressed because of the noise. .You couldn’t have done enough for him. He was allowed to watch the panto on the monitor. The Masons were also very giving to all the children."
"Introducing the theatre to my children. We went with my beloved father to see An Inspector Calls. They loved it and still speak of it now. Excellent evening."
"Oxford Playhouse is very special to me because of 48 hours I spent in Oxford in May 2018, travelling from my home in Hong Kong for an audition at the Playhouse for the part of an “elderly knitter” in balletLORENT’s “Rumpelstiltskin.” I didn’t get the part – fair enough – there were ladies who could knit far better than me, some could even do arm-knitting, but I enjoyed our auditioning workshop immensely. Debbi, Caroline and Paul were simply super. There was a great vibe at the workshop and I made three friends among the other auditioners. I also managed to take a walk along the beautiful Oxford canal before flying back to Hong Kong. I hadn’t been back to England since 2003. I hope one day I’ll be able to act at the Playhouse as an elderly whatever….! It would be a great honour. Oxford Playhouse: you will remain forever in my heart!"
Judy & Ian
"Happy memories of the Oxford Playhouse in the early 1980s:
• what became an annual tradition of a good old-fashioned Alan Aykbourn comedy, mulled wine and mince pies on Christmas Eve - a great start to the Christmas festivities
• the safety curtain - "What hath this thing appeared again tonight for thy especial safety"
"I went to Abingdon School from 1965-71. My Russian and French teacher, David Taylor (a lovely man), arranged an outing to see Huis Clos (No Exit) by Jean-Paul Sartre and The Bear by Chekhov at OP, probably in 1969 or 1970. Trips out from a boarding school were very rare at the time. This was an extraordinary privilege, and my first ever visit to a professional theatre. I was entranced. I went on to direct The Bear in my own production the next year at the North Berkshire Drama Festival in Abingdon. (It came second.)
I did a bit of community theatre in Stockport after university at Leeds (and loved visiting the Royal Exchange in Manchester - what a space!), but then I went to study business in the States. My attempt at a “legitimate” career was short-lived (I dropped out of the program after 10 days), and I got seriously involved in theatre. I took training at the Drama Studio London in Berkeley, California, and subsequently became a professional actor, performing in the San Francisco area and beyond for 25 years. I also founded a theatre company (TheatreFIRST - still going!) and directed and produced there for 15 years. I’m now back in England and still come to OP when I can. It lit the fire, and it won’t go out…"
"My first visit was with a friend to see an actor who was part of ‘bread’ tv series back in the early 90s . Hugh Grant in conversation- excellent! Then Educating Rita this year- took my mum as our Christmas present- both loved it- Stephen Tomlinson and the actress opposite were amazing- we both loved it. Sad our daughter’s work experience can’t go ahead in July as planned.i will be visiting more once theatres open."
"I grew up in Oxford in the 1940's and 50's and have happy memories of the Playhouse. As a family we came regularly to the Christmas shows which were regarded as infinitly superior to the pantomimes at The New Theatre; proper stories! Later when I was in the 6th form there was a rep company with new productions every fortnight. All seats were the same price(1/6?) and a friend and I enjoyed the front row.
Our daughter Madeline's 1st job (1991 -94)was with The Oxford Stage Company which put on shows regularly at the Playhouse."
"From seeing Sir Derek Jacobi at the Playhouse in 2000 in a brilliant production of God Only Knows fast forwarding to 2017 -2019 with unforgettable Burton Taylor Christmas plays enjoyed with our granddaughters via amazing touring Kneehigh Theatre productions and so many others the Oxford Playhouse has been our local and much treasured theatre."
Chris & Jane
"Our memories are simply enjoying different productions in a lovely intimate little theatre, and we can’t wait for the happy day when we can book our next visit! Get the bus from Haddenham to Oxford, pub lunch , all the while anticipating our - usually - Saturday matinee; great day out!."