Arts & Culture
Together Again Season at OP



Oxford Playhouse has today announced its journey out of lockdown, reopening its doors to in person audiences and live performance from Friday 28 May 2021 with the Together Again Season, which includes Ralph Fiennes’ first appearance on the OP stage in T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets, the opening of the UK tour of Blindness from the Donmar Warehouse; a live stream from the OP stage of a play reading starring David Jason, Stephanie Cole and Anton Lesser, and a family show about honey bees and saving the planet, Me & My Bee, touring to schools and community venues during the summer months.  Running alongside the season will be a full programme of events, workshops and activities for audiences, young and old, to take part in.

Joints Directors/CEOs of Oxford Playhouse, Louise Chantal & Vanessa Lefrancois said:

“The opening Together Again season is one of the most exciting in the rich history of Oxford Playhouse. It’s jam-packed with the very best theatre, comedy and family shows, and builds on the extensive digital streaming and online participation work we have delivered over the last year.   After a ‘Year Like No Other’, we are delighted to be back on Beaumont Street, welcoming artists and audiences through our doors.  Over the last 12 months, we’ve learnt new skills, embraced new ways of working, delivered shows in innovative ways and met new audiences. We can’t wait to welcome old and new friends back to the Playhouse this Spring and finally be Together Again. We’re back!”


Programme Director of Oxford Playhouse, Laura Elliot commented:

“We are delighted to be announcing this opening Together Again season, which has been designed for audiences to safely enjoy brilliant theatre in our socially distanced auditorium, at home and in pop up locations across Oxfordshire.  The season is full and varied – as well as looking forward to the world premiere of Four Quartets, starring and directed by Ralph Fiennes, and the ground-breaking new binaural plays Blindness and Under The Mask, we have family theatre delivered through your letterbox with the charming The Secret Garden Experience, a revamped Offbeat Festival in partnership with Arts at The Old Fire Station, as well as courses, classes and community projects for all ages to take part with online.”

Opening the Together Again season at Oxford Playhouse on the main stage will be the Donmar Warehouse UK tour of Blindness, which will run from Friday 28 May – Saturday 5 June. Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens has adapted Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s dystopian novel Blindness as a sound installation, with immersive binaural sound design, with audiences seated on stage. Juliet Stevenson voices the Storyteller/Doctor’s wife in this gripping story of the rise and, ultimately profoundly hopeful end, to an unimaginable global pandemic.

Re-scheduled from May 2020 is the hugely exciting Rhum & Clay’s The War of the Worlds.

Inspired by H.G. Wells’ sci-fi novel and Orson Welles’ classic radio play, this legendary science fiction thriller is playfully reimagined for our era of Fake News and ‘alternative facts’, in a world where the guy who used to be on The Apprentice is now President.

June 2021 sees Ralph Fiennes perform on the OP stage for the first time, with the world premiere production of T.S.Eliot’s Four Quartets, also directed by Fiennes.  Compelling, moving, and symphonic, Four Quartets was the culminating achievement of Eliot’s career as a poet, offering four interwoven meditations on the nature of time, faith, and the quest for spiritual enlightenment.  Mostly written during WWII when the closure of playhouses in the Blitz interrupted Eliot’s work in theatre, the Four Quartets contain some of the most exquisite and unforgettable reflections upon surviving periods of national crisis.

David Jason,  Stephanie Cole and Anton Lesser star in an Original Theatre Company rehearsed play reading of A Cold Supper Behind Harrods by David Morley, which will be live streamed from the OP main stage to audiences at home on 11 June.   Originally presented on BBC Radio 4, this semi-staged production will be directed by Philip Franks, and followed by a Q&A with the cast and creative team.  Three Special Operations Executive agents meet to record interviews for a television documentary fifty years after the end of WWII.  As they sit in a beautiful English garden, pleasantries give way to deeper, darker subjects and a web of self-deception, lies and guilt begins to emerge.

In March 2020, hundreds of final year medical students finished their studies early and started work on the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic. Under The Mask is the story of one of them.  Written by junior doctor Shaan Sahota, Under the Mask is a co-production by Oxford Playhouse and Tamasha.  In a remarkable story of fortitude and hope, the installation brings the audience onto the OP stage. Seated on individual chairs, lit by their own lighting state, listening through headphones to this fully immersive, the audience are placed at the heart of this 360-degree binaural experience.

In July 2021, we welcome back The Woman in Black.  This was the production which was suspended when Oxford Playhouse was forced to close its doors on 16 March 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.  Susan Hill’s acclaimed ghost story comes dramatically alive in Stephen Mallatratt’s ingenious stage adaptation. This gripping thriller, directed by Robin Herford, is a brilliantly successful study in atmosphere, illusion and controlled horror and has a special place in the history of Oxford Playhouse.

There’s also a global live broadcast from Bristol Old Vic, in partnership with Fiery Angel, of Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void, adapted by David Greig. This stunning production is edge of the seat drama. Life-affirming and often darkly funny, Touching the Void takes the audience on an epic adventure that asks how far you’d be willing to go to survive.

Together Again for Great Comedy

There’s a top line up of comedy during the season with live performances from Russell Howard, Adam Buxton and Michael Spicer.  All three have been rescheduled from previous dates which were unable to go head last year, with Michael Spicer: The Room Next Door also live streamed to audiences at home.

Together Again for charming family productions

May half-term sees a magical theatrical experience for families with Wizard Presents’ The Secret Garden Experience.  Award-winning storyteller Danyah Miller leads a superb creative team to bring Frances Hodgson Burnett’s timeless classic to life in a unique interactive blend of audio, physical and digital experiences. There is something for everyone to hear, see, do and share …all from home!

Accompanying eight gripping audio episodes, with original music by Arun Ghosh, is a beautifully crafted Secret Box, bursting full of eight beautifully handcrafted packages created by theatre designer Kate Bunce, which is posted to audiences at home.

Audiences will need to strap on their safety googles when the most outrageous live science show Brainiac comes to the stage in July.  With exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves, live daredevils stunts and all the experiments you’re not allowed to do at home, the fearless Brainiacs take audiences aged 6+ on a breathless ride through the wild world of the weird and wonderful and the spectacular mysteries of science!

The always popular Musical Youth Company of Oxford (MYCO) return to Oxford Playhouse with a fantastic celebration of musical theatre songs in You Can’t stop the Beat.  MYCO is an award-winning youth theatre organisation, recognised for its spectacular musical theatre productions and eclectic and innovative concert programmes. You Can’t Stop the Beat   brings together a  taster of some of the highlights of Chess (MYCO’s programmed show for 2020) along with an array of other musical theatre gems, including numbers from HairspraySunday in The Park with GeorgeSix the Musical and Carousel.

Together Again for Dance

Appearing for the first time at Oxford Playhouse this summer is Aakash Odedra Company. Rising features four works performed by Aakash, exploring different processes and aesthetics to create a new personal language. The solos are choreographed by Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan and Aakash, and feature lighting by Michael Hulls and Willy Cessa. Each solo uses Aakash’s background in kathak and bharatanatyam to create a distinct flavour of contemporary dance.

Dance lovers can also look forward to the second installment from Rambert’s Home Studio, Rambert’s Summer Livestream.  Siblings Marne van Opstal and Imre van Opstal (company dancers NDT, Batsheva) are among the hottest up-and-coming new choreographers on the scene. Rambert is always looking for exciting new voices and has invited them to unleash their fresh creative force on its dancers.

In the second piece, Rouge, pop’s coolest choreographer Marion Motin brings her quirky ho hop vibe to Rambert’s daring dancers.  Known for her choreography for Dua Lipa and Christine and the Queens, Marion Motin is back in the studio remaking Rouge with a new cinematographic twist.

Together Again Across Oxfordshire

Climate change is massive!  Bees aren’t.  Touring Oxfordshire this summer is Me and My Bee from ThisEgg in partnership with Oxford Playhouse.   A wonderfully charming, imaginative, and eccentric family show about bees and how humans can make a difference in saving the world. A combination of storytelling, clowning, original live music, movement, and simple audience interaction, the show asks audiences to play their part in supporting our planet’s ecosystem – one bee at a time!

This Playhouse Plays Out Tent production will tour to Oxfordshire schools and community venues during the summer.  Full tour details to be announced soon.

Also happening outside this summer, is the return of Oxfordshire’s innovative and inspiring new work festival OffBeat, in partnership with Arts at The Old Fire Station.  Suspended last year due to Covid restrictions, OffBeat Festival is back in June 2021 with a full line up outdoors in Gloucester Green, online and on demand and with a few special indoor socially distanced shows across the Burton Taylor Studio and Arts at the Old Fire Station.

Alongside the work on stage is a full programme for all audiences to get in involved with through drama sessions, post show Q&As, youth theatres, befriending sessions, script writing workshops and a full schools’ programme.  Participation activity will remain online during Summer 2021 but return to in person events and activities from September 2021, including OP’s flagship programme for supporting literacy in Oxfordshire’s primary schools, Primary Playmaker.

Covid Secure Measures

Oxford Playhouse is delighted to be welcoming audiences back to its historic building on Beaumont Street, whilst prioritizing the safety of audiences, artists and staff and has a range of Covid safety measures in place.  Live events on the main stage are currently being sold to a socially distanced seating plan and capacity. Subject to government advice and guidelines this capacity may increase from 21 June 2021.  Oxford Playhouse continues follow the safety and hygiene measures set out by the government in its guidance for performing arts and has been awarded the See it Safely and We’re Good to Go kitemarks by UK Theatre and Visit England.

OP’s Autumn Season will be announced in July 2021.