Oxford Playhouse, 11-12 Beaumont Street, Oxford


The Oxford Playhouse by the Oxford Playhouse


Oxford Playhouse is 71 years old, having been built as a repertory theatre in 1938; the last new theatre to be constructed before the war.

The repertory years meant that a resident company of actors performed one play in the evenings whilst rehearsing the next during the day-times. The relentless schedule meant that audiences had the opportunity to see actors such as John Gielgud, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Ronnie Barker and Dirk Bogarde perform many roles on the Playhouse stage.

Perhaps the most famous production in the theatre’s history was an Oxford University Dramatic Society’s Dr Faustus in 1966. Alongside the student performers starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, perhaps the most famous couple in the world at the time.

Other notable student performers over the years have included Rowan Atkinson, Michael Palin and Dudley Moore, and more recently, Emily Mortimer and Emilia Fox.

Students who went on to success in other fields included politicians Shirley Williams and Nigel Lawson, director John Schlesinger and writers Alan Bennett and Christopher Hampton.

Though highly valued locally and held in national regard, the Playhouse often had a precarious financial position, and eventually closed in 1987 due to a lack of funds to carry out essential modernisation. Directors’ Hedda Beeby and Tish Francis were appointed to re-open the theatre, which they managed to do in 1991 after a long fundraising campaign and major refurbishment.

Since then, the theatre has gone from strength to strength, presenting a varied programme of high quality drama, dance, music, comedy, poetry and lectures. Though no longer a repertory theatre, the Playhouse is producing once again.

Official Website: http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/