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Five minutes with Philippa Lawford, director of Tightrope Productions

We chat to Philippa Lawford, the director of Tightrope Productions, about her experiences with drama at Oxford, her involvement in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and her inspirations in the world of theatre.

How did you get involved in drama at Oxford?
I directed Regents Park College’s Cuppers play – we did an extract from ‘Mercury Fur’. It was such a fun experience and I became friends with Kiya Evans and Alex Jacobs, who I now work with on everything (Kiya produces and Alex does our tech).

What’s your happiest memory of drama at Oxford?
I had an amazing time at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer with ‘Sex Education’, which I directed. It was very exciting putting on a play at the Fringe and spending so much time with the cast in a new place.

Have you ever had a complete nightmare with a production going wrong?
In both of the plays I directed this summer, ‘Sex Education’ and ‘Baby Blues’, we had an actress drop out fairly last minute, so we had to scramble to cast someone else. It took a lot of emailing and messaging people but we found two wonderful replacements – one was cast the day before rehearsals began.

What’s your favourite play, and how would you like to stage it in Oxford?
At the moment I’m thinking a lot about Shakespeare’s ‘Pericles’ as I’m hoping to stage it next term. I don’t want to give too much away but I want to break away from a completely naturalistic style and tell the story in as vivid and engaging a way as possible. I love Shakespeare’s language and I just hope I can rise to the challenge of staging it.

Who’s your inspiration?
Peter Brook is an absolute hero of mine – The Empty Space introduced me to the extraordinary potential of the director – and his whole career is so inspiring.

Do you have any advice for freshers who might like to get involved in the Oxford drama scene?
I would encourage freshers not to let themselves be intimidated by the Oxford drama scene, as it can seem quite scary, because everyone seems to know everyone else. I think the bid system is great as it means that everyone has fair and equal opportunities to get a play on, and there’s no need to worry about knowing anyone or being somehow established in Oxford.

Are you working on any exciting projects at the moment that you can tell us about?
Yes! I’m working on ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ at the moment, which is going to be on at the Keble O’Reilly in 5th week. It’s dark and hilarious. I can’t wait to start rehearsals with our incredible cast and crew. I went to Inishmore a few weeks ago and since then I have been itching to get to work on creating the world of the play.

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