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Culture, Theatre

Oxford Playhouse Announces its Innovative Programme of New Work for its Burton Taylor Studio

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With a range of innovative one-person shows, plays and family-friendly entertainment, the Burton Taylor Studio at Oxford Playhouse is buzzing with incredible new Fringe work this Spring and Summer.

Just around the corner from Oxford Playhouse, the 50-seater studio will host a thrilling selection of theatre, music and spoken word. Performances include Rachel Stockdale in Fat Chance, EastEnders star Declan Bennett’s one-person show Boy Out the City, as well as returning Luke Wright and two new shows starring Gerard Logan.

As part of the partnership between The Playhouse and Magdalen College School, Resident Director Lauren Carterand Producer Leah O’Grady bring their production of Nora to the BT Studio, with a cast formed of MCS students. Based on A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, the classic has been reimagined by Stef Smith and follows three Noras, each living at a different point in history. One in 1918, the year women got the right to vote, one in 1968 at the invention of the pill, and one in 2018, at the Dawn of the MeToo movement. Each of the Nora’s is played by a different actress. The production provides the students of MCS with an opportunity to work in a professional theatre space.

With a reputation for being one of Britain’s most popular live poets, Luke Wright is back with more poetry musings in his Silver Jubilee show. Winner of four Saboteur Awards, a Stage Award and a Fringe First, the poet brings his latest Edinburgh Fringe Smash Hit to the BT, taking a deep dive into himself and the England that raised him. Wright navigates his audience through a warm and honest hour of new poems and stand-up on class, love and adoption.

Rachel Stockdale tours to Oxford with a funny, politically powerful one-woman play, exploring fatphobia and class stigma. In Fat Chance, Rachel brings the audience along on her true-life experience of weight gain from size 8 to 18, and the challenges she has faced along the way in her effort to carve out a career as an actress.

Rachel explains: “After growing up in a single parent family on benefits living in the top 1% of underprivileged areas in the UK - central Middlesbrough - I went on to graduate from Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) after gaining a scholarship. Since then in my career as a professional actor I’ve been told by top agents that even though I have talent I’m ‘too fat, Northern and female’. Fat Chance is a funny, reflective look at my life and struggles to succeed in an industry that doesn’t want to represent people like me.”.

Edith Alibec also brings her one-woman show to Oxford, directed by Dana Paraschiv. Tea & Milk is a bittersweet play celebrating the bravery of failing (and laughing) at life when you’ve found yourself out of place - in another country, in the wrong company, or when you just feel like you've been left behind.

Later in the year, Middleweight Theatre also presents a captivating one-woman show that delves into the remarkable life of Harriet Quimby. What’s Next? Is an exciting new production that shines a light on the often-overlooked historical milestone: the awe-inspiring journey of the first woman to conquer the skies solo and soar across the English Channel.

Now Oxfordshire-based, Declan Bennett (Charlie Cotton, EastEnders) brings his electric, funny and raw autobiographical debut to the stage. In Boy Out the City, he takes the audience on a journey into the messy world of toxic masculinity, homophobia and the turbulent world of men’s mental health; confronting his Catholic school days in Coventry, discovering the Gay scene in 90’s Soho and surviving the harsh bright lights of New York City.

Olivier Nominee Gerard Logan tours to Oxford with two new solo performances to delight audiences, directed by Gareth Armstrong. The first, award-winning Wilde Without the Boy, is a dramatisation of De Profundis, Oscar Wilde’s searing letter to his lover, written from Reading Gaol. The second part of Logan’s acclaimed performance is Wilde’s poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which narrates the execution of Charles Thomas Wooldridge, convicted of murdering his wife. Award-winning composer Simon Slater’s beautiful and original score provides a moving accompaniment to the performance.

His second visit to the BT comes in the form of Night Terrors, a spellbinding evening of three tales of the supernational from E.F. Benson’s brilliant collection of ghost stories. Considered a master of solo performance, Logan received The Stage award for best solo performer at Edinburgh Fringe in 2011 and now tours his award-winning shows internationally.

Following this, Shôn Dale-Jones, the multi-award-winning writer and performer behind Hugh Hughes stages the celebrated show, The Duke. Winner of a Fringe First Award, this performance weaves together the tragi-comic fate of a family heirloom - a porcelain figure of The Duke of Wellington, the quandary of a scriptwriter stretching his integrity, and an unfolding disaster as thousands of children flee their homes. The Duke is a funny and poignant show that mixes fantasy and reality, playfully challenging our priorities in a world full of crises. Raising money and money for Save the Children throughout the tour, the show has already raised over £50,000 for its Emergency Fund.

Created and performed by storytellers Katy Cawkwell and Lucy Lill, the BT welcomes Wild Visions, Untamed Myth. The pair take a path less trodden, as they go hunting in the wild places and raking through the ashes of a fallen city to bring you epic tales of women taking their power whatever the consequences.

Associate Artist of The Lowry, Tian Glasgow, brings his new work to the studio. A co-production between New Slang Productions, The Lowry and Sustained Theatre Up North, Tomorrow is not Promised is a new performance work about a Black British woman who finds herself homeless and alone after an earthquake. She embarks on a courageous journey towards healing, through grief, loss and great change.

Supported by Oxford Prostrate Cancer Support Group, Tackle and Prostate Cancer UK, New Anthem Theatre Grouppresents a darkly comedic journey into the life of Tony with FUFC: football, friendship and cancer. Facing a cancer diagnosis in his early fifties, Tony's story resonates with anyone who has ever contemplated the complexities of cancer, offering a message: you're not alone.

Written by D.R. Hill, The Company bring a dramatisation of Oswald Mosley’s life which links to politics today. Draining the Swamp is a provocative new play, with five actors, exploring the life and activities of Fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley, from the 1930s to 1960s. It links Mosley’s world, and that of his controversial second wife, Diana Mitford, to contemporary politicians and populist movements, with a chilling 2019 conclusion.

This season’s programme also includes the funkiest family friendly shows around, with performances from Francis Boua,Indefinite Articles, Faceplant Theatre and Kid Carpet.

Bringing a heartfelt show combining poetry and African Drumming to the studio, Francis Boua presents Drumming Up Poetry Show. Oxford-based drummer Boua celebrates life, traditions, and cultures in this family-friendly show.

With a philosophy of making “open” theatre shows, Indefinite Articles presents Claytime, a play with clay. After exploring the medium of clay with two professional artists, the young audience of 3- to 6-year-olds are asked to imagine brand new characters, settings and stories which are then brought to life right in front of them.

Award-winning theatre company Faceplant Theatre (One Duck Down, Lyric Hammersmith) bring a thrilling adaptation of In the Dead of the Night to the BT, based on Arthur McBain’s internationally best-selling book. This funny and heart-warming story follows Lily who faces her fears and saves the day. Conjuring up fantastical monsters from the strange noises she hears in the middle of the night, Faceplant Theatre’s adaptation brings to life this spooky and heartfelt story through original songs and puppetry.

Set to make even the adults laugh, a brand-new Kid Carpet & The Noisy Animals show comes to the BT, and this time it’s anarchy in The Noisy Garden Centre. Will Kid Carpet win first prize in the Royal Fancy Garden Contest? Come and join in with catchy songs, lo-fi puppetry and video magic, all performed in the company’s signature relaxed performance style.

Tickets for the Burton Taylor Studio at Oxford Playhouse are available from Box Office: 01865 305305 or book online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com

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