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We were serious about theatre but never took ourselves seriously: Max & Tim say goodbye to Oily Cart

30 November 2018

After 37 hugely successful years, Tim Webb and Max Reinhardt – co-founders of the Oily Cart alongside Claire de Loon - stepped down from their roles with the company in September. We threw a party in November to celebrate Tim, Max and Claire’s pioneering work and incredible contribution to the theatre sector, attended by Oily cast, crew, staff and supporters, old and new. In this blog, we are delighted to share parts of the speeches that Tim and Max delivered during this special evening.

Max Reinhardt, co-founder and former Music Director

“We were always serious about making theatre but we never took ourselves seriously. People ask, “How did we stay working together so long?” Three reasons I guess:

We continued to discover fresh talents, skills and ideas in each other as we developed/matured or whatever it is that happens to people over time;

We kept on finding amazing new collaborators to work with in every area, as well as previously untapped resources amongst long-term cast members;

And then our making process and challenges varied considerably from show to show. Call it constant flux, continual evolution, or just Oily Cart and impossible theatre… Long may it continue into the future – here’s to the new team.”










Tim Webb, co-founder and former Artistic Director

"How to talk about 37 years of the Oily Cart now that we’ve come to the end of the first chapter?

Should I talk about the ‘impossible’ audiences that we found ways to show were not so impossible all along?

Or should I talk about the artistic breakthroughs? We developed theatre with integrated audiences and integrated casting. Highly interactive, multi-sensory, devised work with unrecognisable titles. Theatre that trusts its audiences to be the co-creators of its shows. Work that challenges the theatre conventions of time and space: shows that last 50 minutes, or a day, or a week! Shows that dive into hydropools or soar into the air with the woman on the flying trapeze. Shows that begin before they start and continue long after they’ve ended, through the preparation and follow-up we offer.

What about the ever-developing international work? Internationally, Oily Cart are extensively involved in the making of shows with a very recognizable Oily style for Oily Cart audiences – shows that are touring right now in Ireland, the US, Canada, Japan, Sweden and Russia.










Maybe I should talk about our regrets, recriminations and desires for revenge? Our first drama officer who, when we asked if there were any changes we should make for funding, read a report from one of his agents about one of our earliest shows. It was, the agent wrote, “simply appalling”. How we laughed.

Perhaps I should talk about all the funny bits? I hope our work has done some good, but it has always been so much fun. It’s fortunate that no-one actually died laughing when Geoff Bowyer sellotaped himself to the set when demonstrating effective retail packaging in George Sells Out.

But, no. For once, just be reasonable. This speech should be about my debts of gratitude. For the many wonders of the past 37 years, I should like to thank:

The kids – all of them.
All the teachers, all the schools and all the people who work in them – because they taught us so much.
I really want to thank all the funders, from Arts Council England onwards, who have enabled us to develop our very special theatre.
Our fabulous admin teams, with special mentions for Joanna Ridout, Becky Farrar, Kathy Everett, Sarah Crompton, Alison Garratt, Flossie Waite and Sharon Zhang – but right now to Rebecca Manson Jones who has kept the Cart rolling.
Of course I’d like to thank all the performers and musicians, the designers and the makers, especially Jamie Linwood, Jens Cole and Nik Ramage. And what about those invaluable production managers and stage managers – without whom none of it would ever fit in the van let alone make it through the tour
What of the allies and collaborators over the years: like Ockham’s Razor, Frantic Assembly, Apples and Snakes.
Then there are the Oily Cart Boards, who guided us from behind the scenes for so many years.

And after that, my greatest thanks go to my Oily co-founders, Claire de Loon and Max Reinhardt, without whom: 
a. The whole thing would never have got off the ground in the first place
b. It would never have been anything like as long
c. It would never have been so much fun
d. It would never have been so beautiful

Thank you all. So that’s the first chapter of the Oily Cart ended. Now another one begins. May it be even more wondrous than the one we put together. Good luck Ellie, good luck Zoe. You’ve got a great tradition behind you and a great team around you."

Tim Webb & Max Reinhardt. Photo credit: Suzi Corker
Rainbow Robbers (1983).
Up On The Roof (1986). Photo credit: Janis Austin