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An Interview with The Wax House, a young student theatre company

The play I’m working on at the moment, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, will be performed at 9:30pm at the BT Studio, from Tuesday – Saturday of 8th Week Michaelmas (Tues 28th Nov – Sat 2nd Dec), and it will be truly magical. It’s also a very interesting play in that the young, student theatre company producing it, The Wax House, are a company who intend to make theatre a safe and welcoming space for everybody. This includes those who are physically handicapped, have an autistic spectrum condition, have a learning disability, or have a sensory, communication, or memory disorder.

For That Oxford Girl, I interviewed the producer, Alex, and the Director, Laura!

R: How did The Wax House start? What is this theatre company interested in?

A: We started out wanting to be an experimental and accessible company. At the start, we saw these at two quite different things: how do we change theatre form and then make it accessible? But then doing Columns (The Wax House performed a new play, ‘Columns’, at Edinburgh Fringe last summer!), we realised the answer to these two things is the same: by making theatre radically accessible, it becomes experimental! We include relaxed performances and a level access performance for every play we do.

R: Why is it important to do relaxed performances?

L: It’s about time. Fortunately, more and more people are taking notice of the need to make theatre accessible to people with varying needs and experiences. But we think it’s not just big-budget West End shows that should step up to the plate, but companies of every size. It’s not difficult to run Relaxed Performances but it completely transforms people’s experience of the performing arts, and opens them up to people who are traditionally excluded from live performances because it can be overwhelming or because they don’t behave in a way that’s considered ‘appropriate’. We think that’s nonsense! All behaviour in the theatre is appropriate.

R: What do you do to prepare the cast for relaxed performances?

L: It’s about making a few small changes that make a big difference. Making sure that they know what to expect and not to be distracted by a sudden noise or movement is part of it. Most of them have never been in a play before where they can see the audience’s faces! Part of our Relaxed Performances is when the actors introduce themselves and their characters, and getting ready for this is a nice opportunity for the actors to think about how to communicate the characters they’re playing, which helps them get to know the characters better. In this play, with the microphones, we’ll make sure people are really careful with them and able to avoid sudden loud noises, too.

R: Do you have anything to say about your next play?

A: A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings is a beautiful and strange short story by the grandmaster of Magical Realism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s about the strange mystery of a winged man who drops out of the sky on a rainy night. We’re performing it as a live radio play with the actors playing loads of different parts through voice acting, plus live sound effects and musical set-pieces. As the BT studio is unfortunately not accessible, it’s very exciting that we have secured the chance to do one performance, the Saturday matinee (2nd December) in Queen’s College’s Schulman Auditorium, which is level access.

Check out their Facebook page and website!

And check out their next event!

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings will be performed at the Burton Taylor Studio @ 9:30pm from Tuesday – Saturday of 8th Week Michaelmas (Tues 28th Nov – Sat 2nd Dec)

And the event for the special level-access matinee, which has free tickets for care-givers!

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