Fresher onto the Oxford Drama Scene

Welcome to Oxford, and to one of the most vibrant student drama scenes in the country. We put on up to 80 shows a term here, ranging from the 50 seat Burton Taylor Studio to the over 600 seat Oxford Playhouse, from the crypts of Oxford Castle to the college gardens. The brilliant thing about drama here is that the system is decentralised, with a huge range of exciting societies, from improvised comedy with the Imps, to experimental theatre with the ETC, to technical theatre with TAFF (the obscurely named techies’ society). Oxford University Dramatic Society is the largest of these, and forms an umbrella body that draws all these drama societies, production companies, and funding bodies in the university together. As a result of this and an extensive pro-rata loan system, the shows that make a profit cover the shows that make a loss, and you don’t need to get into a drama clique to do theatre here; just find other people who are interested in the same thing, which OUDS can help you to do. Its main job is to give you the resources to make the theatre that you want, by providing funding, props, a wardrobe, access to advice from leading theatre professionals, and a centralised community where you can advertise plays, auditions and jobs.

The best way to get involved is Cuppers, the freshers’ drama festival that happens in 5th week of the Michaelmas Term, and is run by TAFF and OUDS. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to put on a play with a group from your college, no longer than half an hour, and with no more than eight actors. You can do whatever you like, from Shakespeare to your own new writing, from dance to mime – we want to see whatever you find exciting! At the end of the week there are awards for anything from best marketing to the much-coveted ‘Best of Cuppers’.

Later in the year OUDS has a New Writing Festival, national and international tours, and a cornucopia of talks and events.  If you want to find out more about theatre in Oxford or about Cuppers, please do get in touch with me, Lucie Dawkins, at [email protected], or with our friendly freshers’ rep, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, at [email protected]. From mid-September we will have a shiny new website at with lots more information on it, and a list of reps at each college who can help you out. We also invite you to OUDS/TAFF drama freshers’ drinks on the Thursday of 1st week (11th October), upstairs at the Turl Street Kitchen. We can’t wait to meet you!

[Editor’s Note: Of course, the best way to get involved with Oxford Drama is to write about it…]

PHOTOS/Lucinda Dawkins