Having requested tickets for this event a few months ago as soon as I saw them being advertised, when it finally rolled around, I found myself full of anticipation and excitement. Grease is one of my favourite sing-along films, and I couldn't wait to experience it in the outdoor cinema, presented by Cult Screens. A real classic, as I'm sure you know, the film takes place at Rydell High school during the 1950s, exploring the antics and love lives of a group of students about to graduate. Upon arriving and seeing the large selection of deckchairs and beanbags in front of me, all facing an even bigger, inflatable projection screen, I wondered exactly how this was going to be done. The normal setting of a cinema had been replicated in Oxford Castle's prison exercise yard, with the array of seating giving a casual, relaxed atmosphere. My friend and I were seated in some deckchairs having arrived early to secure a pair of good seats; I instantly felt like I was part of a large group of sunbathers as everyone began to gradually filter in and occupy the sold out space.
When it was time for the film to start, after listening to some brilliant disco classics and remixes at the bar (situated behind the audience where a variety of snacks and drink were available), I was comfortably ready and excited for the evening ahead. The film screening was at 8:30pm, and, having only just realised this on the night, I started looking around and noticing how prepared other audience members had been! With people unrolling their blankets and bringing bottles of wine or hot drinks out of their bags, I felt a little understocked with my measly pack of Magic Stars and coat to keep me warm. One suggestion; for these outdoor screenings, especially now the summer is ending, definitely bring a blanket or other warm clothing with you!
The cool air was soon forgotten about when the film started. The idea of these screenings is to put on a pair of headphones (which are comfortable and very easy to work) and listen to the film that way, rather than through a speaker. I enjoyed this concept immensely, and was even more pleased to see that Cult Screens were prepared for its enthusiastic audience by showing the 'sing-along' version of the film, complete with karaoke-style lyrics for us to follow. Something that really stuck out to me was the moments in which I removed my headphones, either to go to the portaloos round the corner, or take in the atmosphere of the crowd. I have to say, it was quite a surreal experience, sitting in my deckchair while listening to about a hundred people singing 'Greased Lightnin'', without the headphones providing the original vocals. On several occasions I noticed audience members rising out of their seats to dance in the aisles of the prison yard, everyone singing enthusiastically, quoting famous lines of the script, and applauding themselves at the end of each number!Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience watching a cult classic in the outdoor setting, particularly with so many people who know and love the film as much as I do. I would definitely look out for another one of these screenings if Cult Screens comes to Oxford again, particularly if there is the opportunity to sing!