Nina Conti

Oxford Playhouse has announced a gloriously diverse and exciting programme to enjoy this autumn, both in and out of Oxford’s beloved theatre.

Leading the way for socially distanced theatre, the new Meanwhile Season includes in-house audiences. Yes, you can actually buy tickets and watch live theatre right in front of you!…. as well as providing live streaming, digital commissions, great talks, and family theatre.

“yes, we are stepping up to the plate. This is
the new frontier and we are adapting and embracing the change “

Live shows can now enjoy an audience of up 170, a far cry from the Playhouse’s 640 capacity but it is at least a live performance in Oxford, something we haven’t seen since March!

Sara Pascoe

The new programme includes comedy from the likes of Sara Pascoe, Rhys James, Sophie Ducker, Ivo Graham, Michael Spicer’s The Room Next Door – The Hybrid Addition, Nina Conti’s The Dating Show (Work in Progress) with Lou Sanders and Jericho Comedy’s The DragProv Revue. Where possible, these events will also be live-streamed to audiences at home.

Flo & Joan, the multi award-winning musical comedy duo, head up the season’s first Live from Oxford Playhouse Comedy Club event, MC’d by Travis Jay, stand-up comedian, actor and radio presenter. The line-up is completed by two of the best up-and-coming comedians of this generation; Luke Kempner, and Pierre Novellie, co-host of the hit podcast BudPod with Phil Wang.

The new programme brings together the work of over 150 artists including six world premieres, commissioned during lockdown

Playhouse CEO Louise Chantal said: “At least some good has come out of Covid because we have been working in new and diverse ways to change the way we bring you live theatre, and to protect the future of our theatre for future generations whether by socially distancing or live streaming.

Michael Spicer

“We have produced this programme on fresh air and goodwill and will marshall it very carefully. But we need to be realistic about the future by adapting and evolving. We do have a responsibility to continue to make and provide theatre for local audiences that empower actors and audiences alike. So yes, we are stepping up to the plate.

“It’s is the new frontier and we are adapting and embracing the change.”

The new programme brings together the work of over 150 artists including six world premieres, commissioned during lockdown.


These include: Under the Mask, based on the real-life experience of a newly qualified doctor on the front line of the Covid pandemic, with audiences seated directly on the OP stage. Small Hours probes the mysteries of sleep. Do You Love Me Yet? is a funny, touching, live experiment in human intimacy with two actors meeting on Zoom for the first time. Great Big Story Mash Up‘s improvised fairy tale for families is led by audience ideas. Take Up Space invites a group of 30 womxn to examine how we use our bodies and the Oxford Winter Light Festival mobile installation project is already under way.

“we’re thrilled to be premiering new work and embracing innovative ways of working which will no doubt be ‘the new normal’ from now on”

Inua Ellams

As if that wasn’t enough, there is also a full digital programme OP Online, of hand-picked digital touring productions to enjoy from the comfort of your living rooms, kicked off by Emma Rice’s Romantics Anonymous this week.


Online treats include Coney Theatre’s Escape Zoom – a live interactive theatre game, Javaad Alipoor Company’s award winning play The Believers Are But Brothers – a journey into an online world of fantasy, violence and reality.

Families will enjoy Rock Pool – a six-part audio drama for 4 – 7 year olds, Kaleidoscope Concert is for babies, featuring sounds from live musicians, visual and sensory activities and The Gift of Winter will enable audiences to make and watch their own show at Christmas.

Lemn Sissay – My name is why

Three unique live streamed OP in Conversation events, with writers and authors include poet and playwright Inua Ellams: Search Party, Lemn Sissay discusses his new book My Name Is Why, plus Amrou Al-Khadi reads from his memoir Life As A Unicorn.

Oxford Playhouse’s Participation Programme is back online with online acting, baby singing groups, Knit and Knatter zoom sessions and digital masterclasses.

Louise Chantal and Vanessa Lefrançois, Joint CEOs Oxford Playhouse added: “Everyone at the Playhouse is delighted to be welcoming audiences back to the theatre, albeit in a much reduced and rather different way, and we’re thrilled to have commissioned and now be premiering new work, embracing innovative ways of working which will no doubt be ‘the new normal’ from now on.’

Flo Joan

Oxford Playhouse has also invited the University of Oxford to use the theatre during the daytime, to allow socially distanced teaching and lectures, while presenting this reduced programme, which works well for both parties.

The Playhouse is also currently considering the options for its Christmas programme and an announcement about it’s scheduled pantomime and Christmas programme will follow at the end of September.

To book tickets for any of the performances and events at Oxford Playhouse, go to