Lady Margaret Hall held an Open Evening of the Simpkins Lee Theatre to celebrate the first student shows to be accepted there.
Built in 2010 as part of the Pipe Partridge building extension, which is listed as one of Lady Margaret Hall’s major achievements of the last five years, the Simpkins Lee Theatre is the new modern venue that stands as an important element in the rejuvenation of the college as a whole. This theatre is now officially being opened to student productions.
In their 2010-2015 Vision and Strategy document, prepared in July 2010 Lady Margaret Hall states that as part of their objective “to provide and maintain excellent facilities for cultural development, recreation and sport,” the new Simpkins Lee Theatre is an integral part of this goal: “The new Simpkins Lee Theatre is an excellent auditorium for performance and music as well as for lectures and presentations. It has very high specification audio visual equipment and acoustics.” However, one can only feel that this desired objective is not being entirely fulfilled by the distinct lack of dramatic productions being performed in the theatre: only one play has been actually been put on there in the last year and that was not even a student production. But LMH are making up for it now by opening the doors to any student drama group to use this venue for Michaelmas 2011.
Additionally, the upcoming shows of the OxFringe festival and growing interest within the student community will hopefully help LMH improve on this issue. Whether it’s the Oxford Theatre Guild putting on a production of Tom Stoppard’s Travesties or the wonderful range of shows included in the OxFringe Festival, such as Georg Bϋchner’s Woyzeck, Morgan & West: Crime-Solving Magicians and Zombie Science 1Z, the Simpkins Lee Theatre does indeed cater for all. This aspect is further proved by the tech availability of audio induction loops for the hearing impaired and disabled wheelchair seating spaces in the auditorium.
Even though the venue is mainly used for lectures and seminars, its potential as a dramatic performance space is obvious from the moment one steps into to the theatre. Indeed, the intimate end-on stage with a seating capacity of 163 along with the impressive range of technical equipment – including a backstage lift and a sizeable projector – make this spot an attractive performance space for any production.