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Oxford Venues


Once you have decided on a production you would like to stage, the next step is to choose a venue and put together a bid for the venue. There are a number of choices of many different sizes: the Burton Taylor Studio Theatre, seating 50 people; the Michael Pilch Studio, seating up to 70; the Keble O’Reilly Theatre, seating around 175; the Oxford Playhouse, seating around 600 people; and many more. On this page you can find a guide as to what you will be expected to provide for each venue.

Bidding for a venue

Putting together a bid


How do I put together a bid?


It is advisable to start having production meetings during the bid process, at which your whole team comes together to share ideas, report on, and make decisions about, all aspects of the production from the design to the marketing strategy. This will help to ensure that your bid is cohesive and your team is working towards the same vision.


What will my bid need to include?


Statements should be submitted from: director, producer, set designer, lighting designer, sound designer, and marketing manager. You will also want to have a production manager attached at the time of the bid: they are a key member of your team. You should also include a synopsis of the production, design sketches, and a full budget, which should usually follow the OUDS budget template.


Does it need to have a graphic design?


The content of your bid is the most important thing, and it is usually advisable to concentrate on the content of the statements above everything else. That said, ensuring that your bid looks professional, clear and well thought through is important.

Bid statements




The director should explain why they would like to stage this production, what they plan to achieve with it, and how they will go about making their vision a reality.  It can also be useful to acknowledge the difficulties of the play and present how these difficulties can be overcome.




The producer should outline their priorities for getting the show to stage. Many of the examples given should present how the team will function and how the producer will lead it. This statement should also outline the financial status of the production: how it will be funded and how it will break even.




Statements may be included from a number of designers. Each should aim to give a budget breakdown (which must be consistent with the producer’s budget) as well as an explanation and accompanying sketches or plans.


Marketing manager


This statement should consist of an analysis of the target market for a given production. From there, a marketing strategy can be devised to target each section of the core audience base. The marketing statement should then outline how this target audience will be mobilised and how ticket sales will be driven. An accompanying schedule may be useful.




If your production is a piece of 'New Writing', i.e. it has been written by a member of your team and has not been performed before, then it is advisable to include a statement by the writer. This should outline the inspiration for the play, their writing process and the benefits and challenges of putting it on in the chosen space.


Burton Taylor Studio

The Burton Taylor studio seats 50 people, and is an excellent location to stage your first show. There are usually around 15 slots per term, with an early and a late slot most weeks, and a great many of these go to first time production teams. The theatre manager, Rob Bristow, is well accustomed to working with first time teams, and offers a level of support to teams unparalleled in other small Oxford venues.


That said, there are many more experienced teams who decide to put on shows at the BT; it lends itself to intimacy while not being too small in terms of stage area, and has good technical capabilities for a studio space, such that it is an excellent venue for more intimate productions or Edinburgh Fringe previews.


What is the application process?


You will be asked to submit a paper bid as well as an application form, which can be collected from the theatre. Additionally, you will be required to attend an interview, which you sign up for at the time of submitting the bid. 


What is the interview like?


The Burton Taylor is the perfect location for a new production company’s first show, and so the interviews will be conducted with this in mind. You will be asked to talk about your vision and may be asked to explain your choice of performance week.


More information about what BT bids should include can be found on their website.


Example Bids:


Michael Pilch Studio

Like the BT studio, the ​​Pilch is a small studio space, with a maximum capacity of 90 people, but usually seating somewhat fewer. The Pilch as a space lends itself to non-standard configurations, with thrust and in-the-round staging layouts being particularly common.


While its technical capacity is somewhat less than that of the BT, and there is significantly less support offered for first-time teams, it is still a popular venue for beginners and experienced teams alike, and only having one slot per week means that the space can be set up exactly how you want it throughout the week without the need to reset scenery and staging between slots every night.


What is the application process?


You will be asked to submit a .pdf bid to the president of the Balliol Drama Society by the date advertised on the drama mailing list. This should include all of the information outlined above as well as an explanation of why the Michael Pilch Studio is the perfect venue for your production. You will then be offered an interview time


What is the interview like?


You will be interviewed by members of the Balliol Drama Society who will ask you about your vision for the play, why their venue is the best place for that vision to be realised as well as questioning the specific members of your team as to their statements on the bid. For example the producer will be asked to justify their budget.


More information about what Pilch bids should include can be found on their website, or contact if you have any questions


Example Bids:


Keble O'Reilly Theatre

The O'Reilly theatre is the largest student-run performance space in Oxford, seating a maximum of nearly 180 people. Its scale and technical capacity is well suited to both experienced and upcoming teams with bold ideas, however it is advisable for individuals considering working in the O'Reilly to make sure they have worked in the same role on at least a show in the BT or the Pilch before attempting to work on the scale of the O'Reilly, since the potential financial implications of a failed production are much more severe.


Previously, the O’Reilly has required a bid to be submitted to the Martin Esslin Society (MES) at Keble college, followed by a short interview in which the team will be asked to discuss their concept further. Since he O’Reilly is currently dark until 2019, processes may change upon re-opening. Please speak to representatives of the MES committee for further information.


More information can also be found on their website.


Example Bids:

Oxford Playhouse


The student slots at the Playhouse are designed for qualified and experienced teams with creative visions to bring exciting theatre to the biggest venue in Oxford that is routinely available to students. The venue generally seats around 650 people, depending on the show, and offers an unmatched opportunity to work alongside professionals in an outstanding space to create productions that can often be approaching professional standard.


Teams that work in the Playhouse are usually those for whom a career in theatre is a real possibility, since the experience can be useful in developing a sector-relevant CV, but also since the significant experience of such individuals is required to make a success of a production on such a large scale. Usually, team members in leading roles should not even consider the Playhouse unless they have already worked in the same role in a theatre at least on the scale of the O'Reilly.


Playhouse student slots are currently overseen by Robert Bristol, who is also the studio manager for the BT, so you may know him already! If you have any questions about bidding for the playhouse, email him at or the UDO at


What is the application process?


Before you put together any bid, you should make your proposed title known to members of the Playhouse team, usually by discussion with the UDO. In the first place, you will be required to submit a paper bid followed by an interview with many core members of your team.


What is the interview like?


Interviews for the Playhouse can be challenging. As well as being asked to talk about the production you would like to put on, you may be asked specific questions. If you would like help to prepare for your interview, please reach out to the OUDS committee, who will be happy to help you.


More information about what Playhouse bids should include can be found on their website.


Example Bids:

The North Wall Arts Centre

The North Wall Arts Centre is a large studio space in North Oxford, seating up to 191 people. It is a professional space but one slot is offered to Oxford students every year, usually towards the end of Trinity term. This slot has traditionally been reserved for new writing, and offers an excellent opportunity for student writers who want to get started in the industry, as well as other production team members who are interested in gaining experience in a professional space.


What is the application process?


Applications for the North Wall slot will be announced through the Oxford Drama Newsletter, usually towards the middle of Michaelmas. A full bidding team is not expected, unlike in other venues, since only a script is usually required, but there is certainly no harm in having a committed team surrounding the script from the start. The script itself need not be complete either, since the team at the North Wall will be keen to offer you suggestions as to how it can be perfected.


What is the interview like?


Interviews will be carried out by the in-house directors at the North Wall, who above all will want to hear about the creative ideas behind the script and how the rest of the team plan to bring it to the stage.


More information about the North Wall can be found on their website.

Other venues


There are many other venues across Oxford that frequently see student theatre put on. Examples include college chapels, Corpus Auditorium, the Simpkins Lee Theatre at LMH, the Moser Theatre at Wadham, college gardens during Trinity Term, and the Old Fire Station. Applications to colleges are usually made on an individual basis and it is generally advisable to have someone from that college on the team so that they can help secure the venue. If you would like to work in any of these venues or would like advice on what else is available, it is always worth dropping the treasurer an email as they may be able to help, especially with putting you in touch with alternative spaces.

BT Studio
North Wall

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Photo by Riya Kataria

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