The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is over, but what can Oxford learn?


A different way to approach feminism:

For all its good intentions, there is much to be improved with regards to the way feminism is tackled in Oxford. As it stands, projects such as OUSU-backed WomCam don’t get a great amount of publicity, and the self-appointed spokesperson of Oxford feminism, Cuntry Living, often comes across as angry and intimidating. Perhaps then, feminists of Oxford could take a leaf out of Sh!t Theatre’s book. Their 2015 Fringe offering, Women’s Hour, first curated as part of Camden People’s Theatre’s ‘Calm Down Dear’ festival of feminism, seemed to me to strike a perfect balance – uncompromising but not overly accusatory, ridiculous but informed, funny but didactic, all in a hilarious parody of the Radio 4 programme.

Using more spaces around Oxford as venues:

One of the most exciting things about the Edinburgh Fringe is seeing each and every corner of the city transform into a fringe venue. This means that performances take place 5 floors underground beneath pubs, or in the university’s student union or, for the lucky 2 people that make up the entire audience of this year’s show ‘Ménage’, in an intimate private flat. To our credit, we do this one fairly well already in Oxford. Last year saw the grounds of Worcester College give rise to a promenade performance of Henry V, and the team behind The Master and Margarita had plans to make use of the Teddy Hall graveyard. But still, even conventional venues like Balliol’s Pilch Studio and LMH’s Simpkins Lee are relatively unheard of. There’s something electrifying about raw drama taking place just the other side of a curtain, or somewhere unexpected, and whilst we could never achieve this on the same scale as in Edinburgh, it would be great to see some innovative uses of space this term!

Using theatre to open conversation:

Sure, the academic world of Oxford is intense enough by itself, and many people will go to the theatre for light relief, to see friends and for pure entertainment value. Still, our topical extracurricular talks and events are always greatly popular, and there’s no reason why Oxford theatre shouldn’t also partake in this style of performance. In fact, I would go so far as to say that theatre is one of the most powerful media for doing so. ‘Walk the Tightrope’ led the pack for this type of performance at this year’s Fringe. It involved three short plays exploring ‘the tension between art and politics’ which were followed by charged discussions on the same topic; the role of censorship in art. According to the reviews, the pieces were thought-provoking, important and electric. I think there would be room for something similar in Oxford.


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