Credit Sam Taylor

Louise Chantal is fire-fighting. As chief executive of the Oxford Playhouse, which closed yesterday until May 2, she is steering one of Oxford’s most famous theatres into the unknown.

Louise Chantal CREDIT Geraint Lewis

And yet she remains unruffled and focused because Louise has one thing on her mind – to make sure that when the crisis is over the Oxford Playhouse survives, while supporting her 100 staff in the meantime.

“I feel a great responsibility to my staff, our audiences and future generations to keep the Playhouse open, and for that reason we have to stand and shout – to do everything possible – by asking people to donate their money or credit” Louise Chantal

In so doing she is imploring all those who have bought tickets to cancelled shows to either donate the money to the Oxford Playhouse, or to leave the sum in credit for an alternative show over the next 12 months.

TO HELP DONATE GO TO https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/news/cancelled-performances/71 or ring 01865 305305 to give money, donate ticket sales or ensure future credit.

Oxford Playhouse Foyer CREDIT Geraint Lewis

“Everyone here has really stepped up to the mark. And it has proved to me that the Oxford Playhouse team are world class, working all hours even when they have young children at home to try to contain this crisis,” she says. “

It really has been a ‘Blitz spirit” and it is an extraordinary privilege to be part of this team, so there are silver linings.

“If you care about community and the arts in this city support your cultural partners whoever they may be across the board”

“However, I feel a great responsibility to my staff, our audiences and future generations to keep the Playhouse open, and for that reason we have to stand and shout – to do everything possible, because 80% of our income comes from our box office so this is a major problem. So we are urging people to donate their money or credit where possible. Because if the theatre closes we may lose it for ever.

“It really will make the difference between the Playhouse staying open rather than closing.”

Louise also mentions the artistic companies struggling to survive in this uncertain climate as well as the community groups and schools the Playhouse works with, as being another priority in these uncertain times.

Pic Peter David Grant

“I am absolutely convinced we will survive and all the theatres are working together. This is not a misery competition – we are all in this together and are supporting each other, because it’s a very worrying time.”

In the meantime the Oxford playhouse has had to cancel its renowned Offbeat Festival, Young Players Festival and Playmaker showcase, as well as the 17-25 annual production which has been rehearsing all year.

“I know, it’s been so heartbreaking making these decisions, but the safety and health of the public and my staff and ensuring the Playhouse survives are my priorities,” Louise says.

So what would she say to those thinking about helping or donating? “We are not an institution we are a theatre. We are also at the heart of the community, and community is at the heart of everything we do, from our theatre productions to our schools programme and even the older ladies at our knit and natter club.

Beauty and the Beast. Oxford Playhouse. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

“We are community based through and through and that’s why we need the doors to open again soon and why we need Oxford’s support.

“Because this is completely unprecedented. So if you care about community and the arts in this city, support your cultural partners whoever they may be, across the board, to ensure that we are still here when the coronavirus crisis is over.”

TO FIND OUT MORE OR DONATE GO TO https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/news/cancelled-performances/71 or ring 01865 305305 to give money, donate ticket sales or ensure future credit.

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