Oxford Playhouse

  (Redirected from The Oxford Playhouse)

Oxford Playhouse is an independent theatre designed by Edward Maufe and F. G. M. Chancellor. It is situated in Beaumont Street, Oxford, opposite the Ashmolean Museum.

Oxford Playhouse
the Playhouse
Oxford Playhouse Oct 2014 geograph-4243594-by-Jaggery.jpg
The theatre entrance on Beaumont Street.
AddressBeaumont Street
Coordinates51°45′17″N 1°15′39″W / 51.75472°N 1.26083°W / 51.75472; -1.26083Coordinates: 51°45′17″N 1°15′39″W / 51.75472°N 1.26083°W / 51.75472; -1.26083
Public transitGloucester Green, Oxford railway station
OwnerSt John's College
OperatorThe Oxford Playhouse Trust
ArchitectEdward Maufe (exterior)
F. G. M. Chancellor (interior)
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official nameThe Playhouse[1]
Designated12 January 1954[1]
Reference no.1185150[1]


Inside the auditorium

The Playhouse was founded as The Red Barn at 12 Woodstock Road, North Oxford, in 1923 by J. B. Fagan.[2] The early history of the theatre is documented by the theatre director, Norman Marshall in his 1947 book, The Other Theatre.[3] Don Chapman has also provided a comprehensive study of the theatre in his 2008 book, Oxford Playhouse: High and Low Drama in a University City.[4]

The exterior design of the current theatre building on the south side of Beaumont Street was designed by Sir Edward Maufe, with the interior design being completed by F. G. M. Chancellor,[5] and was completed in 1938.[6] It is faced with stone, in keeping with the early 19th century Regency buildings in the street.

Actors who have appeared on the stage at the Playhouse include Rowan Atkinson, Ronnie Barker, Dirk Bogarde, Judi Dench, John Gielgud, Ian McDiarmid, Ian McKellen, Dudley Moore, Bill Hicks, and Maggie Smith. Susannah York gave her final performance at the Playhouse in August 2010 in Ronald Harwood's Quartet. The journalist and writer Christopher Hitchens worked as a mover of scenery at the Playhouse during his time as an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford.[7]

The Oxford Playhouse was the crucible from which Prospect Theatre Company was created by Manager Elizabeth Sweeting and Resident Stage Manager Iain Mackintosh in 1961. Between 1963 and 1976, the Prospect Theatre Company toured 75 productions to 125 theatres in 21 countries.[citation needed]

The Greek theatre director Minos Volanakis was an associate director at the theatre; his productions included Jean Genet's The Maids (1963–4) and The Balcony (1967), and Jean Giraudoux's Madwoman of Chaillot.[8]


A charitable trust runs the Playhouse, through a professional management and direction team, as a theatre for the local community. Like much of North Oxford, Oxford Playhouse is owned by St John's College.[9] It was closed for some years over funding issues, but is now refurbished with a 663-seat capacity in the main auditorium.

Burton Taylor StudioEdit

The entrance to the Burton Taylor Studio theatre

Oxford Playhouse has close relations with Oxford University and is the home stage of the Oxford University Dramatic Society. The Playhouse also manages on behalf of the university the nearby Burton Taylor Studio, named in honour of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. "The BT" is a 50-seat studio theatre on Gloucester Street, close to the Oxford Playhouse. It originated in 1966, when Richard Burton donated money towards the creation of a rehearsal space, also occasionally used for performance, named the Burton Rooms. A couple of decades later, students from the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) established the current tradition of the venue as a home for regular student productions.[10] The Burton Taylor Studio programs a mix of student and professional productions throughout the year.[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "The Playhouse". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Oxford Playhouse". Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Scheme. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  3. ^ Marshall, Norman (1947). The Other Theatre. London: Lehmann J. Lehmann. OL 22345509M.
  4. ^ Chapman, Don (2008). Oxford Playhouse: High and Low Drama in a University City. Society for Theatre Research, University of Hertfordshire Press. ISBN 978-1-902806-86-0. OL 22345509M.
  5. ^ History of Oxford Playhouse, Oxford Playhouse website, accessed 24 January 2022.
  6. ^ Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Penguin Books. p. 324. ISBN 0-14-071045-0.
  7. ^ Charlie Rose: Greenroom - Christopher Hitchens, 29 February 2008
  8. ^ Chapman (2008, pages 184, 186, 196–197) and The New York Times obituary for Volanakis.
  9. ^ "St John's College | Must see Oxford University Colleges | Things to See & do in Oxford".
  10. ^ a b "Oxford Playhouse: Burton Taylor Studio". Oxford Playhouse. Retrieved 5 February 2015.[full citation needed]


External linksEdit