Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Susan Hampshire painted our toilets

The Playhouse Theatre opened in Beaumont Street on 20th October 1938 and has become one the foremost theatres in England. The actors who have entertained from this stage are amongst the most feted stars of the English stage in the times since that opening night. It has played a significant role in the cultural life of not only Oxford city life but also that of the University, with OUDS productions, Oxford Theatre Guild (the leading amateur group in the city) and the Oxford Operatic Society as well as a great deal of national touring groups. I was fortunate enough to be a sponsored theatre critic whereby I received two complimentary tickets to any professional theatre outside the “West-End” and visited the Playhouse many times as part of that role. I have been given permission to take some photographs after contacting their management who appear to have placed no restriction on where I go; I will find out soon when I meet Hester.
Of interest for recording this building would be the foyer – it is the first experience when coming to the theatre and is therefore likely to affect the experience of the evening. It is small and, as with all amenities, the management have taken every opportunity to “market” themselves to raise funds. The ticket desk shares the space with programme sellers, a confectionary counter and a coffee/bar area – I will try and depict this. The second major experience in the theatre is the perspective or viewpoint of the audience member; the theatre was completely renovated in 1990/1 and has very good all round viewing. The stage area, through the proscenium arch, is one that I would hope to be able to capture as well as the aspects from the side-lines and changing areas. The Stage Door (I’m not sure if there is one) and theatre staff offices.
Susan Hampshire was an ASM (Assistant Stage Manager) in 1954 and, as most people will know, an ASM is likely to get any job, I think though, she was provided with a brush for the purpose – I suspect the facilities have been renovated more than once since then. 

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