It's Performance Workshop Time Again

Updated: May 9, 2019

Performance Workshops

Saturday May 25th at 2pm & Saturday June 1st at 2pm

Entrance is FREE

VINCENT’S CLUB, 1a King Edward Street, (off Oxford High Street), Oxford, OX1 4HS

A Performance Workshop in 2018

I'm referring to the two long sessions coming up on May 25th and June 1st at Vincent’s, just off Oxford High Street, when a group of professional actors do 15-minute staged readings of every writer’s work.

The course began in October last year and each writer has written a considerable amount of dramatic material in that time; some have written an hour-long play and are now well into a new longer play; others are completing a full-length play that they have worked on since the course began.

Our weekly sessions last 2 ½ hours. The most recent sessions have focused on the approaching end-of-month deadline. Yet in the course of the 30 sessions that make up the entire course, the group has read, discussed and learnt much from some 20 plays. Here’s the list:

1 A RAISIN IN THE SUN Lorraine Hansberry 

2 THIS CHILD Joel Pommerat 


4 TOP GIRLS Caryl Churchill 

5 THE WRITER Ella Hickson 

6 TWO Jim Cartwright

7 GUT Frances Poet


9 SNOWFLAKE Mike Bartlett

10 THE FATHER Florian Zeller

11 CLYBOURNE PARK Bruce Norris

12 CYPRUS AVENUE David Ireland

13 JOHN Annie Baker

14 HOME, I’M DARLING Laura Wade



17 THAT FACE Polly Stenham


19 THE AUTHOR by Tim Crouch

20 ALBION by Mike Bartlett

Now it's the turn of the writers in the group.

The actors arrive at my house from 6pm the night before and we read through the 8 scripts that will be staged the next day. That session goes on to almost midnight and each actor knows who and what they have to play the next day. The actors meet up again with me on the Saturday morning at Vincent’s (where the whole course takes place) and we rehearse the extracts ‘on their feet’ between 9.30 and 1.30. A quick break and the audience arrive at 2pm.

And off we go…

We run the first 4 extracts for the audience, one after the other. Then the four writers sit as a panel and take questions from the audience. Everyone then has a cup of tea and we do the same again with the other four writers! At around 5.30 the session ends and everyone, actors, writers and audience alike, go down to Vincent’s bar with its magnificent view of Oxford High Street, and have a drink together.

I have to say that the actors are of a very high calibre.

There are thus two Performance Workshops, one for each group of eight writers, the first on Saturday May 25th, the second on Saturday June 1st. Both start at 2pm.

The key phrase is Performance Workshops; these are all very much extracts from work in progress and the purpose of these intense Saturday afternoons is for the writers to hear their work as if for the first time, as freshly as it is heard by the audience of friends, relations -- and others interested by the challenge of writing a play from scratch.

The two groups this year have produced some fine work and I am greatly looking forward to both workshops – please feel free to join us on either afternoon.

Write to me at

John Retallack


  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon

Photography by Stuart Allsopp and Geraint Lewis. Website by Alexandra Coke.