THE story of a group of homeless people in Oxford who came together to create a theatre show is to be aired on television on Sunday.

The show, called Oxford: Life Is A Circus, is a documentary about a stage production called Sawdust which was created by professional artists and people experiencing homelessness. Shot over a year, it follows the group as they come together to make and perform their own show at The Old Fire Station in George Street.

The film, which goes out at 10pm on BBC Four, was made by BAFTA-winner Jo Elliot of Topic Films and created as part of the Hidden Spire project at the venue – which houses two charities: Arts at the Old Fire Station, and Crisis Skylight Oxford. The two work together on creative projects which bring homeless and vulnerably housed people who use the building together with theatre professionals.

Among those featured is playwright Doug Lucie, from Thame, who found himself homeless in Oxford in 2017.

A former playwright-in-residence at the Oxford Playhouse, his plays have been produced at the National Theatre and the Royal Court. Mr Lucie joined the project at the writing stage and went on to perform in the final show.

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He said: “The atmosphere in the class and around the building was highly creative, supportive and exciting, with ideas flying around non-stop. The film is entertaining, moving, funny and most of all joyous – not words we normally attach to the issue of homelessness, which is an indication of why the whole project meant so much for us all and why people should definitely watch it. We are all very proud to have been part of.”

Another Crisis artist, Lucy Jacobs, said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of projects that have allowed me to write, collaborate and perform with super-talented individuals. Through this I have grown on the inside and as a person in terms of worth and confidence and value – all traits that fade out of your reach while living a life on the fringes of society.


“The Old Fire Station gave me a microphone and encouraged me to use my voice.”

Another person to benefit from the project is Mark Taylor, who is currently working on a photographic exhibition called Icon, which will open in November. He said: “I came to this place 10 months ago. I was homeless, very low and in need of a shower. Fast forward to today I feel very privileged.

“This building has given me so much. I have met so many inspiring people. I have rediscovered my sense of self and my love for the arts.”