Oxford Drama 101

With a new term and a new year upon us, Florence Brady, the President of OUDS, and Claire Bowman, committee member and performer, tell us that it could not be a better time to start getting involved with the Oxford theatre scene.

Signing up to the OUDs mailing list means weekly emails with all the theatrical opportunities available, auditions, productions and advertisements. Don’t forget JCR arts committees which often put on college based plays. This term specifically, the New Writing Festival will soon be auditioning for actors and is a “really good way in”, according to Florence, who describes it as “cuppers part two.”

“Give everything a shot,” adds Claire, as auditions will only get less scary by doing lots of them. Things tend to get more competitive as the year goes on so it is advisable to start auditioning early. The University Drama Officer is on hand with a library of monologues if you need guidance, but Florence recommends a mixture of common sense and comfort when choosing monologues. Auditioning for a comedy probably isn’t the ideal time to bring out your most tragic Hamlet, but ultimately Claire says “find something that fits you”. Don’t be put off by unusual audition experiences (Florence recounts an audition in which she was asked to “mime a pineapple”), and don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the first things you audition for.

For those interested in taking on directing or producing roles, assisting roles are a really great place to start and help build up experience. For the more technical minded, TAFF is also running a training day on 31st January for both beginners and non-beginners on the kit that they use.

Putting on a play from scratch can seem like a daunting prospect. “The key is to find a play that you really want to do and the most appropriate space for it”, says Florence. With a play decided, and a producer, marketer, director and set designer on board (advertising on the mailing list is a good way to find people), it is time to make bids for your chosen theatre, templates for which can be found on the OUDs website. “There are lots of people around to help”, Claire reassures me. Theatre is “such a major collaborative process” echoes Florence. Don’t be afraid to email people or even arrange face to face meetings, as everyone is happy to help.

Of course it’s inadvisable to get carried away. “Know your limit”, says Claire, highlighting the importance of having time to eat and sleep between essay deadlines and dress rehearsals. She also encourages people to ask what time commitments will be in auditions: “talk to directors because everyone is doing a degree here”. She recommends two plays a term as a good limit.

OUDS committee, for which husts are this term, is another great way to get involved and offers another perspective on theatre. As Claire points out, “it’s really fun and there’s cake” – what more could you want? With around 30 productions being put on every term, it’s time to get involved.

To sign up to the OUDS mailing list, email [email protected]

PHOTO/Darrell Godliman