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Five minutes with Markus Beeken, Light Entertainment Society’s Community Officer

We chat to Markus Beeken, a member of the Oxford University Light Entertainment Society (commonly referred to as “owls”), about his involvement with drama at Oxford.

Can you tell us a bit about OULES and your role there?
OULES is the Oxford University Light Entertainment Society. We’re basically the more casual approach to drama, everyone who auditions gets a part and we write all our own shows. I’m the Homes and Schools Officer, which basically means I deal with promoting OULES in the community, organising taking shows to Care Homes and local schools to raise money for charity.

How did you get involved with drama at Oxford?
I started by assistant producing a garden play during my College’s arts week in first year, having never got involved in any drama back home. From there it was just a case of saying yes to anything that came my way and trying my hand at new things.

What is your favourite play?
That’s a big question! I’m writing on theatre for my dissertation and the play that’s interesting me the most at the moment is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. It’s so claustrophobic and threatening, it’s hard not to get sucked in.

How would you want to stage it at Oxford?
As I said, it’s a very narrow and suffocating play, so I feel like put- ting it on with minimal staging in something like the Burton Taylor Studio would highlight that sense of entrapment. It wouldn’t be a comfortable performance but it would be effective.

What is your happiest memory of Oxford drama?
Probably the feeling I got when I decided to pursue my long-time dream of directing The Winter’s Tale. It’s always been a passion project of mine and seeing it all coming together has been an honour. More than this though, the outpouring of support from my friends has been kind of overwhelming.

Have you ever had a production go really wrong?
My first experience as a stage manager I forgot to put an integral prop on the stage and only realised about ten seconds before it was needed. I’ve never seen a group of people running so fast in my life!

What advice would you give for freshers who wanna do the dramz?
Firstly never, ever call it ‘dramz’ but I think it’s a case of remember- ing that whatever you want to do, there’s probably other people out there who would be willing to do it with you so go for it. I’ve always treated drama as a social exercise, not something to be taken too seriously. So join the Light Entertainment Society, make some friends and then keep trying out new things.

Have you got any exciting projects that you’re working on at the minute?
I’m currently directing a hyper-modern production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale at the Maths Institute which will be on in November. It’s a really exciting project, especially pulling such a strange play into the modern era. The event is floating around Facebook, look us up! It’s going to be great.

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