Drama | University of Oxford
Drama
Students perform in an open air theatre.
(Image credit: Rob Judges Photography).

Drama

Oxford is full of theatre spaces - from the Burton Taylor Studio, which mounts two student productions every week, to the nationally renowned Oxford Playhouse, which hosts two large-scale student productions a term, to theatre spaces inside colleges. More adventurous producers might aim for an outdoor "garden show" in the summer term, or put on a play in a night club or chapel. On stage, backstage or in the audience, you can take part in a great variety of traditional, contemporary and experimental productions. There are University-wide bodies but also many societies and funding bodies at college level too.

It really doesn’t matter if you don’t have any major extracurricular hobbies. Not only is interest in your chosen course far more important, but when you get to university there are far more extra-curricular opportunities than you could have foreseen whilst at school!

Nikita, 3rd year

There is a full-time University Drama Officer who helps students to plan, programme and publicise their productions. The Drama Officer also organises workshops and talks, which are free and open to all, and can advise those planning a career in theatre or film on graduation. Find out more from Oxford University's Dramatic Society (OUDS) or email drama.officer@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Oxford University Dramatic Society

OUDS represents a huge body of students interested in making theatre and is the society which helps drama happen at the University of Oxford. It is primarily a funding body providing financial support to student productions, but which 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 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 on each term, for people of all levels of experience and of every interest, from musicals to new writing to Shakespeare to physical theatre, ensures that this is an exciting and vibrant scene with something for everyone.  Each year OUDS tours internationally with a Shakespeare production directed, performed and produced by students. The Soceity also hosts a national tour every summer, culminating in a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Tabs Are For Flying

TAFF is the society 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.

Oxford Imps

The Oxford Imps perform improvised comedy - Whose Line Is It Anyway-style shows - every Monday night, 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 a 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.

Oxford Revue

The Oxford Revue was the brainchild of Michael Palin, who was the first to combine the idea of ‘sketch comedy’ with ‘a paying audience’ in the early 1950s. Since then the Oxford Revue has never looked back, spawning 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.

Cameron Mackintosh Visiting 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 Simon Russell Beale. Previous professors include Stephen Fry, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Miller, Kevin Spacey and Meera Syal.