Whether it's film or theatre which draws you, the vibrant drama scene at Oxford offers amazing opportunities to aspiring actors, writers, producers, directors and technicians.
Oxford has a huge choice of theatre spaces - from the 50-seater Burton Taylor Studio, which mounts two student productions every week, to the professional 600-seater Oxford Playhouse, which hosts five large-scale student productions a year.
Many colleges have their own theatres whilst some student producers also put on summer shows in the gardens or put on a play in a night club or chapel. You'll find about 30 shows performed each term, ranging from new writing, modern drama and classical plays to musical theatre.
Oxford on stage
If you're into drama then Oxford offers a huge wealth of different productions, venues and groups to help you develop as an actor, director, designer or technician. There are also many drama and stage-craft related resources for you to use:
University Drama Officer
The University Drama Officer is a full-time staff member who helps students to plan, programme and publicise student productions, organises free workshops and talks and can advise those planning a career in theatre or film on graduation.
Oxford University Dramatic Society
OUDS is one of the many drama societies here that nurtures new talent and encourages involvement. It is the society which helps drama happen at the University of Oxford and is primarily a funding body providing financial support to student productions. However, it also oversees student drama more generally, ensuring it offers fair opportunities to all. It is not a ‘traditional’ drama society in the sense that it is not a group who put on plays, but is made up of a committee which meets every week to discuss funding for shows and to make decisions which improve opportunities for drama across the University.
OUDS' passion for nurturing new dramatic talent means it works hard to introduce new students to drama in Oxford. The annual ‘Cuppers' competition and the programme of workshops in Michaelmas (autumn) term aim to give new students (freshers) the confidence and experience they need to put on their own shows. The extensive and varied range of plays put on each term, for people of all levels of experience and of every interest, ensures that this is an exciting and vibrant scene with something for everyone. Each summer OUDS tours internationally with a Shakespearean production, working in major professional venues and living as part of a touring company. The Society also hosts a national tour every summer, culminating in a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The Oxford Imps are a mixture of Oxford students and locals who perform improvised comedy every Monday night in a local pub, and at the Edinburgh Fringe for a month each summer. They are a training, as well as a performance company, offering a boot camp and workshops for each new generation of comedians and actors. Every year they hold auditions (no experience required!) but also need technicians, production assistants, improvising keyboard players and a keen audience to provide suggestions for the show. The Imps are a regular fixture at college balls and charity events, and put their skills to use in a wide variety of other formats, from full-length improvised musicals and radio plays to short films.
If you are interested in writing and performing sketches and stand-up then the Oxford Revue may be for you. This comedy community has spawned some of Britain’s best loved writers and comedians, from Alan Bennett and Rowan Atkinson, to Armando Iannucci and Sally Phillips, to Stewart Lee and Katy Brand.
Tabs Are For Flying
TAFF is for those who work on the technical side of theatre and theatre design, including stage and production management, lighting, sound, props, and costume and set design.
As a society, it provides support, advice and training for students who are interested in technical theatre. It also seeks to increase the understanding of technical theatre in the broader University theatre community. Throughout the year it runs workshops on a variety of aspects of technical theatre.
Cameron Mackintosh Visting Professor
Each year a major theatrical figure is appointed to give a series of lectures and workshops at St Catherine’s College. The current Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre is Tom Stoppard. Previous professors include Simon Russell Beale, Stephen Fry, Sir Ian McKellen, Arthur Miller, Meera Syal, Thelma Holt and Diana Rigg.
Oxford on screen
You may have seen Oxford's famous landmarks in innumerable films and TV shows. What you might not have realised, though, is that some of the famous faces you've seen on screen are graduates of the University. For instance, Star Wars: Rogue One stars Felicity Jones and Raz Ahmed were both students here. Other graduate film stars include Hugh Grant, Emilia Fox, Rosamund Pike and Kate Beckinsale.
If film-making interests you, then there are many resources and groups to help you develop your skills:
Oxford University Filmmaking Foundation
The Oxford University Filmmaking Foundation is Oxford's filmmaking society. It exists to support and promote filmmaking at Oxford University and has a long history of supporting actors, directors, composers and other talented individuals who have then gone on to work at the highest professional levels.
For more information, visit the OUFF website.
Oxford Film Hub
Network with other student film makers in the Oxford Film Hub.
Support from the Careers Service
The Oxford University Careers Service has specific support and guidance available to anyone wanting to work in stage, film or television after graduation. Resources include podcasts about breaking into professional acting and tv/ film production.