Who are we?
Hopefully the questions below should answer any questions you
have about OULES. If not, please E-mail our president, Jake
So, what is OULES?
The Oxford University Light Entertainment Society (OULES) is a non-profit making group dedicated to putting on shows for those who cannot normally travel to the theatre, taking plays to special needs schools, hospitals and retirement homes. We are a small, informal group and aim to encourage first time actors, directors and writers. In other words: we put on silly plays with silly people for good reasons.
Do you need to be able to act to join?
No! We take anyone, whatever their experience or ability. We pride ourselves on being the least serious drama group in Oxford, and we spend a good deal of time eating biscuits and having a laugh.
But that doesn't mean our plays aren't worth seeing: we have great scripts, wonderful directors and songwriters, and a collection of very talented actors who accidentally found their way in. Besides, it's loads of fun watching a play when everyone on-stage is clearly enjoying themselves!
So you don't perform Serious Drama then?
No. You want OUDS
for that. Everything we do is Lightly Entertaining. See?
What do you do then?
Well each term we put on a show - a Lightly Entertaining one as you might have guessed! From our ranks we pull together a script, directors, producers, musicians, and (importantly) a cast and put on a show in 8th Week from which the proceeds go to a deserving cause.
We also try to take versions of our shows to schools and old people's homes around Oxford to bring comedy and theatre to those who might not normally get to go and see it.
Obviously this changes from year to year, but that's the jist of things. For an idea of what we did in the past, see past shows
for a list of what we've done so far, or come along and join us to find out what's happening now!
So how do I join then?
Get in touch! E-mail the president
, or sign up to our mailing lists
. You could also check the news page
to see if there are any auditions coming up. These will generally be at the beginning of every term, but contact us any time; we'll usually be able to fit you in somewhere and we love having new OULES!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions we get asked regularly. Or used to get asked regularly. Or imagine people would ask us regularly if we didn't have a list of them on the website. And a picture of a duck.
How long have you been about then?
The origins of OULES are lost in the mists of space and time. Also they are lost since the society folded some time in the mid-90s, but before that legend has it that a band of nutters flourished and performed wonderful comedy of the genuinely amusing variety, and some people believe that Rowan Atkinson and Oscar Wilde were members.
OULES was refounded in Michaelmas term 1999 by one James Needham who is also wanted in connection with similar deeds in Cambridge. Auditions for our first production, Dick Whittington, were duly held and we managed to cobble together a cast in time for our dress rehearsal.
So you're quite a small group?
We've now grown to the extent that we need to write new parts into plays so everyone who wants can have one. Somehow we still always achieve that last-minute panic, though, when a fairy has the flu, we lose our venue at the last minute, half the cast can't find the school, the king doesn't get up in time, etc etc. But the show must, and always does, go on. I'd say they are always brilliant, but I'm probably biased!
Oooh, can I read your old scripts?
I'm afraid not, unless you're already a member - the scriptwriters don't want them to be generally available. If you are a member, we have a few online but you'll need to know the password... If you think you should know the password and you've forgotten it, please e-mail the Webmistress
If you aren't a member but really desperately want one of our scripts, please also e-mail the Webmistress
and they'll pass your details on to the person who wrote the script and it'll be up to them if they'll let you have a copy.
I've missed the auditions - can I still have a part?
It's not normally a problem, just E-mail the president
Do you need to be a member of Oxford University to join?
No. Proctor's rules say that 4/5 of our members have to be in the university, but that's not a problem at the moment.
However, you do need to be able to get to most rehearsals, and be able to make performances at schools, hospitals and old people's homes. These will almost certainly be in office hours.
What are Flosscars?
Our annual award ceremony/AGM/party, normally taking place after the final show in Trinity Term. See Flosscars
for more information.
Anything else I can do to help?
Well, if you happen to be a hospital, school, retirement home or anyone else who would be deserving of our attention, situated in the Oxford area (i.e. within easy bus ride or are able to come and fetch us), and have an area suitable for a bunch of students to prance around in, then let us know, and we'll do our very best to get to you. Please contact our Homes and Schools Liaison Officer
Alternatively, if you've got a real knack for scenery-building, costuming, songwriting, etc but don't want to act, we'd love to have you on board as well!
Hey, you said there'd be a duck!
You might have come across one or other of the various societies affiliated with OULES at some point - there are quite a few of them! Here's a few of them explained.
What it stands for is another question: originally it meant "Vacation of Light Entertainment Societies" being our summer holiday. Nowadays, there seems to be a consensus that it meant at one point "Varsity Of Light Entertainment Societies" (being Oxford vs Cambridge) but then Sheffield had a Light Entertainment Society and we could hardly say no to them so now it's "Various Organisations of Light Entertainers": referring to Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield, and anywhere else with a Light Entertainment Society.
Whatever VOLES does stand for, it always means lots Light Entertainers from lots of places and often means we're up to something (in a good way!). Maybe it's VOLES New Year, Summer VOLES Parties or VOLES Varsity: or maybe something completely different. Who knows?
for more information.
Ok, what's ALES?
"Alumni Light Entertainment Society" for those who have grown old but not up. It's not strictly Alumni-only, just those of that generation.
"Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society". Like OULES but in Cambridge.
"University of Sheffield Light Entertainment Society". Like CULES but in Sheffield.
What about OODLES?
"Oxford Old Duffers Light Entertainment Society" A group for people who should have left Oxford but haven't and still want to do Light Entertainment, or people of that generation. They normally do shows on a weekend so our cast can get there!
What about POODLES?
Four legged creature. Fluffy. Barks.
What is Two Shades of Blue?
Two Shades of Blue is a group who produced shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, composed mostly of Light Entertainers. See their Website
Ok, that's pretty neat- wait, did you say Varsity?!
How on earth do you have a Varsity Match?
It seems to change every time, but the way it worked in 2014 was like this:
We performed the a four-act OULES version of Dracula
with points allocated for various (increasingly dubious) reasons by the totally impartial judges (all the while playing the spurious word game
Act 1: the Oxford cast
Act 2: the Cambridge cast
Act 3: the Sheffield cast
Act 4: a mix of the Oxford cast, the Cambridge cast and the Sheffield cast, switching by call of the judges.
It's all for the honour of Light Entertainment Everywhere... Just like the Boat Race or something but better.