In 2017, a group of people – some with experience of homelessness – created a play at the Old Fire Station in Oxford for the Hidden Spire project. This film chronicles that journey, from writing workshops to the rehearsal room and opening night.

Shot over a year, it follows the group, consisting of people from a vast array of backgrounds, as they come together to make and perform an entirely new piece of theatre. Set within the dreaming spires of Oxford but a world away from the elite and privileged, it tells a heartwarming story of hope and adventure.

Life Is A Circus is a documentary by Jo Elliott. It screened on BBC Four on Sunday 19 May, 2019. Click here to watch it on BBC iPlayer.

Hidden Spire is a process which brings together people who are homeless with professional artists to create a show from scratch. It’s one of the ways we partner with the national homelessness charity Crisis to work with people facing tough times. Find out more about Sawdust and past projects at the Hidden Spire website.

We’re planning Hidden Spire 2020 and we need your help. Click here to donate.

Doug Lucie’s story

When you first arrive at Crisis at OFS as a homeless person you might be reminded as I was, of that first day at a new school. There are so many activities available, choosing which ones to do makes your head spin. But I was lucky that the first class I noticed was Writing a Play, lucky because that’s what I’d been doing for the previous 42 years. So I went along and became part of the team that would eventually create Sawdust and was persuaded to tread the boards for the first time in 40 years.

The atmosphere in the class and around the building was highly creative, supportive and exciting, with ideas flying around non-stop. Also, we were being filmed, but not as I thought for some kind of in house movie, film maker Jo Elliot of Topic films, is a BAFTA winning professional, and Life is a Circus, is a very accomplished piece of work we are all very proud to have been part of. It reflects everything Sawdust came to mean to all of us. For many it was an exciting leap into the unknown, while for me personally it was a powerful reminder of why I chose to work in the theatre all those years ago. 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 you should definitely watch it!