Oxford Playhouse

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The theatre entrance on Beaumont Street, Oxford.
The inside of the auditorium

Oxford Playhouse (often just known as the Playhouse by locals) is an independent theatre designed by Sir Edward Maufe. It is situated in Beaumont Street, Oxford, opposite the Ashmolean Museum.


The Playhouse was originally founded as The Red Barn at 12 Woodstock Road, North Oxford, in 1923 by J. B. Fagan.[1] The early history of the theatre is documented by the theatre director, Norman Marshall in his 1947 book, The Other Theatre.[2] 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.[3]

The current theatre building on the south side of Beaumont Street was designed by Sir Edward Maufe and was completed in 1938.[4] It is faced with stone, in keeping with other early 19th century Regency buildings in the street.

Well-known actors who have appeared on the stage at the Playhouse include Rowan Atkinson, Ronnie Barker, Dirk Bogarde, Judi Dench, John Gielgud, 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 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.[5]

The present[edit]

A charitable trust owns and runs the Playhouse, through a professional management and direction team, as a theatre for the local community. It was closed for a number of years due to lack of funding, but is now refurbished and thriving.

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Oxford Playhouse". Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Scheme. Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  2. ^ Marshall, Norman (1947). The Other Theatre. London: J. Lehmann. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Sherwood, Jennifer; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1974). The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire. Penguin Books. p. 324. ISBN 0-14-071045-0. 
  5. ^ Chapman (2008, pages 184, 186, 196–197) and The New York Times obituary for Volanakis.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°45′17″N 1°15′39″W / 51.75472°N 1.26083°W / 51.75472; -1.26083