Oxford Playhouse begins major refurbishment

The Oxford Playhouse Theatre has launched a project to significantly update its facilities. The refurbishment will cost £700,000 of which over half will come from the Arts Council’s Small Capital Fund. 

The upstairs circle bar will be moved to the centre of the circle to facilitate the movement of people. Interim Director, Polly Cole, commented, “it makes more sense for it to be in the centre because you come up both sides. It will also be larger so we can serve more people.”

There will also be a major change to the auditorium, last updated in 1996. Cole observed that at the moment “the seating is worn, the fixtures are collapsing… some of the seats collapse so we have to check them between shows to make sure they are fit for purpose. The carpet is horrendously worn. It is currently held together with gaffer tape.”

Other modernizations will include replacing the air conditioning system, refurbishing the downstairs foyer bar and replacing leather stools with fabric. However, Cole was keen to assure regular theatregoers that “the look of it [the theatre] will be very similar, it will change slightly.”

It is thought that 150,000 people go the Playhouse every year. The Playhouse also has a strong relation with student drama, offering two performance slots a term for student productions.

The work will take place for one month every summer for the next three years. The theatre is currently closed until the 18th of August.