• Tickets: Walk in and pay what you decide
  • Company: SARU


Talks on everything from augury and Nan Shepherd to Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf, to field recording and Twin Peaks. All are welcome and no previous knowledge of the subjects is necessary.

Leila Johnston: Finding Your Music

Writer and artist Leila Johnston will talk about the ways in which sound, music and rhythm have been routes to truth in her practice. She will share lessons from several extraordinary collaborators who have influenced her thinking about the value of sound, including professional dancers, and a synaesthete composer.

Leila’s work is part of a tradition which combines folklore and mythology with science and tech. Always with an eye on the transcendent and mysterious, her outputs have ranged from immersive digital installations to playful live shows, books, radio comedy, magazines and podcasts.

The mischievous creations started early, secretly recording comedy sketches and prank calls onto cassettes as a young child, and only got more elaborate and subversive with time. In 2015, Leila’s creative collective, Hack Circus, produced an immersive comedy musical, Underworlds – a one-night-only sell-out event in London, involving puppets, in-character lectures, and audience singalongs. Hack Circus brought art, science and technology themes together under the banner of ‘everyday magic’, and Leila was interviewed about the project for The Independent, The Times, BBC Click, The Guardian and many more.

In 2016, Leila was the first digital artist in residence at the UK’s leading contemporary dance company, Rambert – a fascinating and eye-opening experience where she began to understand dancers’ identity as special musicians. She will cover some highlights of this experience, in this talk.

She has recently completed a residency about AI and apocalypses, where she considered digital’s relationship to time, religion and waiting, and is currently creating digital mermaids, in tanks, for people’s offices and living rooms. Leila lives in Sheffield, where she works part-time as Digital Curator for the Site Gallery.

SARU is part of MA in Sonic Art at Oxford Brookes University, and provides a forum for dialogue and exploration between the fields of composition and sonic art. Areas of further focus include electroacoustic and language based composition, interdisciplinary practices, field recording and auditory knowledge. SARU is bolstered by a community of practitioners and is curated by Patrick Farmer.

Parking & Access


There are a number of Blue Badge parking spaces nearby on Beaumont Street, and more on New Inn Hall Street and St Giles.

The closest car park is Gloucester Green Car Park, accessed via Gloucester Street.

If you have any questions or concerns, the City Council’s Access Officer can be reached at 01865 249811.

Car parks in Oxford Blue Badge information Public transport in Oxford


Disabled patrons are eligible for one free companion ticket with their booking. To book this, contact the ticket office: tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk or 01865 263990.

There are two entrances to the Old Fire Station: 40 George Street via the foyer, and on Gloucester Green via the shop. Both are step-free. If you are coming to a show, we ask that you use the George Street entrance, as the Gloucester Green entrance is not always open.

Events in the Theatre

There is level entry to the foyer of the Old Fire Station, and step-free access to the main Theatre (where most shows take place).

If you are a wheelchair user attending a sit-down show, space will be reserved for you. If you are attending a standing gig, please contact us (call the ticket office on 01865 263990 or e-mail tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk) and we will talk with you about your needs.

Events in the Studio

There is level entry into the foyer of the Old Fire Station, and step-free access to the Studio.

Events in the Loft

There are six steps leading up to the Loft space, with no lift. If you would like to discuss this to find out more, please get in touch.

The Gallery

There is step-free access to the Gallery – level entry through the George Street entrance, and via lift from the Gloucester Green entrance.


Accessible toilet
There is an accessible toilet on the ground floor, accessible via platform lift. Other toilets are in the basement (accessible via lift).

Hearing assistance system
The Theatre is equipped with a hearing assistance system. If you have any questions about using it, please e-mail us at tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk or phone 01865 263980.

Assistance dogs
All types of assistance and guide dogs are welcome at the Old Fire Station. It would be great if you could let us know in advance if you will be bringing a working dog to any performances – just e-mail tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk.

Strobe lighting
We will warn visitors on the website and in the foyer of the venue if a performance is going to contain strobe lighting. If lighting affects you, and you have any concerns, please call the ticket office on 01865 263990 or e-mail tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk.

Chairs in the theatre
Our chairs are a standard dining-chair size, measuring 40cm deep by 37cm wide, with a metal frame. Some have arms, and some do not. They are all joined together at the sides, to form rows. If this is likely to pose a problem for you, please email tickets@oldfirestation.org.uk and we can discuss how to make your visit more comfortable.