Lucy Askew enjoys some unexpected time off by... going to the theatre, which never feels like work

For a variety of largely not particularly interesting reasons, we decided not to put on a spring show this year. This has left the Creation team with a little more time on our hands than we’ve had in quite some time, especially in the evenings.

Oh the plans we had at the start of the year for this new-found evening freedom! New hobbies, holidays, books to read. Now June is here and this summer’s production of Macbeth at Lady Margaret Hall draws ever closer and I’m realising that the principal thing I have done with my evenings is... go to the theatre!

The incredible thing, though, is with so much theatre within (and a stone’s throw from) Oxford it never feels like work. I believe there is something about theatre’s immediacy that gives it the ability to challenge, inspire or transport you from real life, in a way a night in front of the television can’t. In part this may be that the theatre is one of precious few situations where we all have to put our phones away for a couple of hours (and don’t be tempted; I’ve heard great stories about things actors have done when spotting anyone on their phone).

Last weekend was a particularly good example: we went down to the Brighton Fringe for a couple of days. We saw five shows in two days jotting down lots of ideas for future Creation shows (and OK, there were some chips, ice cream and beer on beach squeezed in-between). You’d think spending the weekend with your colleagues might get a bit much but far from it: seeing such a variety of shows made a weekend feel like a full-blown holiday. If you like the seaside and theatre and find the thought of a trip up to Edinburgh for the festival a bit intimidating I recommend a trip down to Brighton next year.

It’s been a strong week for theatre closer to home, too. On Wednesday an unexpected change of plans left me with an evening free to catch Contractions at the Old Fire Station. Directed by Miriam Higgins who has assistant directed for us in the past, I went in with no idea what to expect and found a thoughtful, intelligent, at times uncomfortable piece of work.

Thursday we were proud to go along and support the Creation high black stools (their biog wasn’t in the programme but you may have seen them at Blackwell’s) as they helped form part of the seating for The Playhouse and Chris Goode Company co-production Stand. A piece of work about ordinary Oxford people who have stood up and fought for something they believe in it was everything you could want from community-based theatre and more; a stand-out production (no pun intended) you know will stay with audiences lucky enough to see it for years to come.

It got me thinking about when I stood up and fought for something I believe in, keeping Creation from closure 18 months ago. Now we are on a more stable financial footing it is easy to forget how hard that fight was or how, without the support and loyalty we receive from the Oxford audience, we could be in that position again. I can’t claim our cause is as noble as those featured in Stand but to be able to stand alongside such great theatre in Oxford is a great privilege and one which we will never stop fighting for.