Lucy Askew, chief executive of Creation Theatre, reveals how staff get stuck into a host of jobs to support the charity’s work

This week my acting skills have been pushed to their limits (I should at this point mention that I am not an actor, have no formal training and no desire to perform in any future Creation show).

With that established, I have played the part of a cat stuck in a washing machine, a giant pair of glasses, a palm tree and a news reporter. Most of these can be excused by the involvement of children, but one was an unexpected moment of audience participation during a professional show.

It is without doubt one of the best things about our small team at Creation that we all get stuck in to a wide range of jobs to support the different strands of the charity’s work. Between shows this means that I get to momentarily take off my chief executive hat and help out at some of Creation’s Drama Clubs.

It’s incredible to think that five years ago our drama club only had 10 children and we now have 165 members. It’s lovely how long children stay members, so even after being absorbed with productions for most of last year I can still walk into the room and see so many familiar faces. The engagement from not only the children, but their parents, with our work is overwhelming.

As well as coming to see their children’s shows and our professional ones, some usher for us, others offer professional services and training and they’ve even been known to turn up with freshly-cooked soup and muffins for our casts. Most of all, though, in helping out, I get to spend a couple of hours of my week racing around playing all kinds of silly ridiculous games. It should be compulsory that we all do this once a week — it really does you good.

My other unexpected foray into acting was as an audience member for The Factory’s production of The Odyssey in London this weekend. The show made its debut in Oxford two years ago as part of a co-production with Creation in the Norrington Room of Blackwell’s bookshop. The collaboration was quite a departure from Creation’s usual style and involves the cast performing all 24 books of The Odyssey in a semi-improvised, partly chaotic, beautiful and hilarious way. The audience guides the show by selecting shards of pottery with instructions on how each scene should be performed.

Having seen the show many times before, both in Oxford and as it has been revived around the country over the last two years, I have always watched the frequent audience participation with the sense of joy that comes from something truly spontaneous, and the warm feeling of a close escape at not having been the one co-opted in. No such escape this time, though, as I drew out the shard to read “Interviewer” and found myself moments later onstage as a news reporter in Arete and Alcinuous’s palace.

A nerve-wracking and mentally taxing five minutes followed that can only be equalled by the five minutes spent playing “Cat in a Washing Machine” with our 5-7 year olds at Drama Club that morning. Both experiences take you out of your comfort zone, aren’t as scary as you think and leave you feeling proud to have momentarily shared a stage with so many talented actors.