50 years at Ovalhouse
Ovalhouse has been home to an incredible range of experimental, radical and overlooked artists for over 50 years. We celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2013 by setting up an ongoing scrapbook of stories and anecdotes from the people who made Ovalhouse what it is today - if you're amongst them, we invite you to add your own story!
The 1960s saw a radical change in the policy of Christ Church United Clubs (as we were then know) as the newly appointed warden Peter Oliver took it upon himself to change the focus of activities from sport to drama; this changed everything and heralded the emergence of experimental theatre. Oval House Theatre was born.
London in the 70s was a hotbed of change and theatre companies started making theatre about being gay and out in London, a radical move as homosexuality was only legalised in 1967. Immigration to the Capital meant that London became a landscape of multiculturalism, and Ovalhouse was one of the first theatres to champion theatre from the up and coming black theatre companies.
Under the new direction of Kate Crutchley as Theatre Programmer, the 1980s was the decade for women’s theatre. Radical female theatre companies explored topics of feminism, lesbianism and life in Thatcher’s Britain.
The ever changing landscape of London brought about an eclectic body of work in the 90s by artists from a myriad of backgrounds; this shaped the policy Ovalhouse now has to support emerging artist to help them in their career to bridge the gap.
The new millenium saw an increasing emphasis on bringing young people into the arts, and Ovalhouse now stages an acclaimed annual youth arts festival alongside continuing to stage and commission professional work by some of the most exciting new voices in the UK and beyond.