The Oxford School of Drama has been responsible for turning out some of our finest up-and-coming stars – people like BAFTA nominees, Claire Foy and Babou Ceesay, andthe likes of Olivia Bromley from Emmerdale, Ella Bruccoleri from Call the Midwife and Tanya Reynolds who appears in Sky 1’s Delicious.

This week the school, which is just outside Woodstock, is bringing Chekhov’s Three Sisters to The North Wall in Summertown.

The production, which runs until Saturday, is directed by Max Key whose most recent production of The Glass Piano earned him a nomination for Best Director in the Off-West End awards and It is Easy to be Dead, an Olivier Award nomination.

The students in Three Sisters will graduate in four months from the school’s One Year Course. Max appreciates the qualities of the students on the course, saying: “The students range in age from early 20s to early 40s and have lived a life which gives them a maturity in their approach coupled with an openness which is a great combination.”

Max is passionate about the play. “To my mind it is one of the greatest plays of the 20th century,” he says. “It is brilliantly observed writing about compelling, complex people which 115 years on still has the power to resonate with our own lives.”

Three Sisters tells the story of sisters Olga, Irina and Masha who, with their brother Andrey, are trying to find a way to live after the deaths of both parents. The women’s lives are turned upside down by the arrival of glamorous officer Vershinin to their remote town.

Max admits to enjoying working on period plays . He says: “I love observing what life was like then and I always insist that the students do detailed research into the social and historical context of the play.

“To me, part of the enjoyment for the audience should be to see plays in their original context – to observe how people and society have changed – and what remains the same.”

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Designer Sarah Booth aims to create a setting for the play which leans towards the overpowering and suffocating rather than the bleak. She says “As Vershinin says, the house is beautiful and Russian interiors of the time were full of colour and pattern so I will enjoy working with that.

“It is also a real joy to design clothing from the turn of the century when changes are afoot in fashion and women’s clothing starts to strip away the fuss of the bustle into a more elegant silhouette and men’s tapered suits start inching towards the modern.”

On the popularity of Chekhov, Max says: “Chekhov’s writing resonates particularly for a British audience, I think, because he often writes about class. However, alongside the familiar is the alien, in particular the Eastern European characteristic for black humour and speaking with directness.”

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He has nothing but praise for the students. “It’s joyful to be working here,” he says. “The students have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and skills. Having worked intensively together for many months in a safe and supportive environment, they have an extraordinary sense freedom and fearlessness. When you are rehearsing for just 4 weeks with a company of professional actors, it’s much more difficult to create this same sense of company. And here in the wilds of rural Oxfordshire is a great place to create the world of the play which is set in an isolated Russian town 900 miles from Moscow.”

The Oxford School of Drama presents Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters at The North Wall, Summertown, until Saturday. Tickets from