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From Olivier award-winning
playwright and director John Retallack

OXFORD PLAYWRITING is an advanced course for aspirant professional playwrights.

The course is split into three groups, each one comprising 6 experienced writers. There is a maximum of 18 places per year and a maximum of 6 in each group.


Courses take place in Oxford from 10.30am-5.30pm, one Friday per month between October and June.

Applications are invited from writers of drama or writers from other fields. Current participants include: 

theatre producers and actors, current or former journalists, biographers, academics, teachers, novelists and, of course, playwrights who want to go further in their writing and enjoy the critical support of a highly motivated group.

All sessions happen in person – online participation is available only when it is impossible for a participant to attend (e.g. train strike, pandemic, etc)

Performance Workshops

On the penultimate day of each course, there is a PERFORMANCE WORKSHOP in which professional actors, directed by John Retallack, perform extracts of the writers’ work, sometimes on camera, sometimes for an invited audience.


Classes and Performance Workshops take place at Vincent’s Club, 1A King Edward Street, Oxford OX1 4HS. Vincent’s is in Oxford’s historic city centre with striking views over the colleges.

JR tutoring 2 2016 crop.jpg


John Retallack offers a FREE 30-minute online consultation for those interested in applying for the course. He will take you through key elements of his Oxford Playwriting Course, and give you the opportunity to ask questions.


As a supplement to the course, there are three OXFORD PLATFORMS per year. These are rehearsed readings of plays that have emerged from the course that take place at The Old Fire Station, Oxford. 


OXFORD PLATFORMS began in October 2022 and has gained an immediate public following, selling out the 125-seat theatre.


Oxford Platforms Future Dates:

NOVEMBER 23rd, 2023

(Book tickets)

FEBRUARY 1st, 2024 

MAY 16th, 2024

Course Feedback

"John’s course is fantastic. His encouragement and experience will inspire, transform and enrich your writing, from his structural insight to his expert selection of exercises and plays. The weekly sessions comprise a perfect balance of group discussion and individual feedback. The opportunity to see your own work performed by professional actors will blow you away. If you’re thinking of applying or enrolling, do it now."


Michelle Ewing, participant, 2021-22

"John's course is the best anyone could hope for. It has transformational effects on the confidence and achievements of all the participants. John is passionate and knowledgeable about theatre and has great first-hand experience. The course is so artfully constructed that you slip gracefully into writing a play, through all the exercise stages, almost without realising it. The discussion of plays is precise and informed and of great practical benefit for our own writing. Best of all, the chance to have your work rehearsed and performed by excellent professional actors is gold dust."

Nick Marston, participant, 2018-23


Actors read work at a Performance Workshop

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