UPDATE: additional health and safety regulations for companies performing in mt20 are now available. Companies planning to bid should read these thoroughly - please click here to access them.

Michaelmas Term 2020

The keble o'reilly is now accepting bids for mt20. However, the global pandemic means that the kind of shows we are able to consider has been severely restricted, please see below for a statement from MES, and a list of core regulations productions will need to adhere to - please read both thoroughly  before submitting a bid

A Statement From The President and Treasurer About Michaelmas Term 2020


The Martin Esslin Society are pleased to announce that we are now accepting bids for Keble O’Reilly shows for MT20. Beneath this statement is a list of the regulations shows will have to operate under. Every company bidding for a slot must include a ‘Social Distancing Statement’ in their bid document outlining how they will meet these. The regulations are non-negotiable, but if you have any questions about them don’t hesitate to contact us - and please rest assured that neither we, nor the college, have taken any of these decisions lightly. We recommend that companies read both the attached document and this post thoroughly to aid them in putting together their bids.


As you will see, perhaps the biggest change will be that productions will not be able to perform to a live audience. This is in keeping with the latest government advice, which you can read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses?fbclid=IwAR1t_m1qp_GGZJy9mnl_XqdNeI9U2f4Jl5SA2r3OTLRnaLq9L5PQgk8zmfE

Instead, companies will have to make arrangements to stream their shows online. The kind of shows we can put on, and the technical complexity of productions will also have to change - as will the way we move in and think about the space. We encourage companies not to think about how they can cram a ‘normal’ O’Reilly show into these new restrictions, but to try and think about how they could create a piece of work specifically for these conditions - or even how they could use this as an opportunity to transfer a piece of work they would not usually consider for a venue of this size into the O’Reilly. 


Of course, all of this comes with a caveat: we can only open the theatre if doing so is in line with government advice and university and college policy. No one can predict what might happen between now and October; being offered a slot does not guarantee that your show will be able to go ahead, and we have no idea how short notice a cancellation might be. But we hope that won’t happen, and we will continue to plan for how we can open the theatre as soon as it is safe to do so.

More detailed regulations will follow these ones. We are not yet in a position to confirm what these will be, but they should not affect companies at the bidding stage. As ever, as soon as we know, we will let you know. We will be holding a drop-in Zoom session on the 29th of July, where anyone thinking of bidding can come and ask questions, or you can contact us on dorothy.mcdowell@keble.ox.ac.uk or juliet.dowley@keble.ox.ac.uk

The deadline for bids is Thursday 10th September, and you should send your bid documents to justin.kendall@keble.ox.ac.uk. We look forward to seeing what wonderful shows you all come up with.


Best wishes,

Dorothy McDowell (President)

Juliet Dowley (Treasurer)

Keble O’Reilly MT20 - Production Regulations


Please read this document thoroughly before submitting a bid. We would like to reiterate that we can only open the theatre if doing so is in line with government advice and university/college policy; this means that productions may have to be cancelled at any time, possibly with very short notice. If you have any questions, please contact dorothy.mcdowell@keble.ox.ac.uk or juliet.dowley@keble.ox.ac.uk. We will also be holding a drop-in zoom session on 29th July (details to follow) where we can answer any questions you might have.


The deadline for bids is midday on Thursday 10th September. Please see here for details on how to submit.



  • Live audiences will not be permitted - all productions will have to be streamed online. This means that you may need to secure the rights to stream or release a recording of your chosen play, so you MUST  submit proof that you will be able to get these rights along with your bid - if you have any difficulties, please get in touch to let us know. Please be aware that there is often a long delay between requesting rights to release a show online, and receiving confirmation as to whether this will be possible - this is the reason why the deadline is not until September.

  • We will not be able to accept bids for musicals, or productions which involve any singing.

  • The maximum combined number of cast and backstage crew is nine. This means that if, for instance, you only have 1 SM backstage you can have 8 cast members, but if you have an SM and an ASM you can only have 7 cast members.

  • All productions for the term will have to share a single lighting rig, which must also incorporate the theatre’s conference lighting state. This will be designed in consultation with all of the production companies at the start of term (but it will have to be fairly simple), and  is necessary to allow for social distancing during get-ins, and to facilitate teaching during the daytime.

  • Only minimal set will be allowed. The theatre will be used for teaching during the day, so the set must be put up and struck before and after the performance each evening, and should be stored in the SL wing during the day.

  • The weeks available to bid for are: weeks 4, 5, 6 and 7 of MT20.



  • Due to teaching taking place during the day Monday-Friday, companies will be able to use the theatre:

    • During the weekend before their allocated week, from 1.30 pm on Saturday onwards. 

    • In the evenings during the week of your show

    • On the Saturday morning after your show (get-out must be completed by 1 pm)



  •  The seating stand will have to be out, due to lectures taking place in the O’Reilly during the day

  • Mic swaps will not be allowed

  • The same run crew must be used for all performances (due to can-sharing/sharing space backstage)

  • Get-in must happen in a socially-distanced way. This means that ladders cannot be used, and only light-weight flying will be permitted.



  • We hope that cast will not be required to wear masks, but crew will need to wear them at all times.

  • Cast must remain 2 metres apart on stage at all times, meaning that the maximum number of people onstage at the same time will be 5 (and, for the avoidance of any doubt, this means they can’t touch each other).

  • Props must not be used by different actors without time being left for wiping with antibac wipes in between (this may mean that duplicates have to be purchased)

  • Maximum of 2 people in the tech box.

  • Dressing rooms can’t be used, we are negotiating with college re using an upstairs seminar room as an alternative

  • Bands are allowed on the balcony, but they can only have strings, keys and percussion, and can’t have any more than 6 players (including the conductor). 



  • We are aware of the additional financial pressures the pandemic may place on production companies, and as such have taken the decision to waive the usual £350 theatre licensing fee . Companies will still need to pay the £150 technician's fee, as well as the £250 security deposit. It should also be stressed that this arrangement is for one term only, and we plan to reinstate the licensing fee in hilary 2020.

  • Companies are advised not to spend any money yet, as there is still a risk that the situation will change and productions will not be able to go ahead.

  • If the situation changes between now and October in a way which means an audience might be permitted in the theatre, we are happy to discuss this with companies (although we cannot guarantee that it would be allowed). However, if an audience were in the theatre the maximum number of band members (including conductor) could not exceed four. If you have bid for a show whose band exceeds this number, you would not be permitted to have a live audience under any circumstances. Other than this, these regulations are very unlikely to change in any way


© Martin Esslin Society 2020. All rights reserved.

Website designed by Bryony Streets

The O'Reilly Theatre, Keble College, Blackhall Road, Oxford OX1 3PG

  • facebook