Andy Atkinson talks to Professor John Schad about a special event that will take place at the Sheldonian Theatre

Oxford’s iconic Sheldonian Theatre, which once hosted a famous interview with the controversial philosopher Jacques Derrida, is the setting for a performance of an acclaimed play exploring Derrida’s vexed and haunted relationship to Oxford.

Derrida, at the time the most famous philosopher in the world, spoke to a packed audience at the Sheldonian in February 1992. Just a month later, in Cambridge, a number of dons famously opposed his nomination for the award of an honorary doctorate.

More than 20 years later, the Sheldonian will host a performance of Last Train to Oxford, which is based on the acclaimed novel Someone Called Derrida by John Schad, Professor of Modern Literature at Lancaster University.

Like the novel, the play explores the complications that haunted the charismatic French-born philosopher’s relationship with the academics at Oxford in the 1960s.

Co-written with Fred Dalmasso, the work will be performed at the Sheldonian on Monday, June 1.

Professor Schad explained: “We’re delighted that the performance is taking place in such an iconic setting and one that has such strong connections with Derrida.

“His interview at the Sheldonian in 1992 was sponsored by Amnesty International at a time when Derrida was accused of challenging the notion of human rights. So it is wonderful to be able to return Derrida, as it were, to both the Sheldonian and the scene of controversy.

“The play is based on my book, Someone Called Derrida, which is a combination of memoir, philosophy, investigative history, detective fiction and Oxford.

“The story begins with someone calling Derrida on the phone, someone he thought was dead.

“It investigates, not just the Oxford of the 1960s but also of the 1930s, as well as espionage, exile from Europe, and an English public school in the middle of the Second World War.”

l The curtain goes up for Last Train to Oxford at 7pm.

Tickets for the performance can be bought at:
They are priced £8 or £5 for concessions. The play is suitable for ages 14 and over.