We invited local director, writer and dramaturg Katy Owen to tell us more about the experience of creating Come in,
In March of this year (2022) I worked with a fantastic team of queer creatives to stage Come in,
The testimonies I incorporated into the play were first presented to me when I volunteered with the Tales team, typing up interviews in preparation for the launch of their Queering Spires exhibition. Attending the exhibition was a life-changing experience, as I learnt about a whole host of historical queer spaces and venues: a trans support group that met in Summertown in the late 70s; the Stage Club on George Street that was required by law to serve bangers and mash so it could run as a club night; the Northgate Hall, an LGBTQIA+ community centre on St Michael’s Street where Bills Restaurant now stands; and many, many more. I thought I knew a lot about
The North Gate Hall - image: Ross Brooks
Museum curation has traditionally only been the purview of a privileged few and, because of this, many museum collections are hugely influenced by social hierarchies of gender, sexuality, race and class. Queering Spires expanded my understanding of
This question was the main inspiration when it came to creating Come in,
After the play ended, the audience were invited into the performance space with the cast and crew. We discussed the various queer venues that had been recreated within the show and, even better, audience members started to tell us their own histories. There’s a line in the play where the main character, Jo, says, “It’s not always easy, but I definitely think queer people have this power to open up spaces and make them queer.” As tales of different queer spaces emerged, ones that hadn’t been included in the play, I knew we had tapped into that power. Through the project, we built on what the Tales of Our City team began, carrying on what I hope will be a never-ending process of growing queer spaces and queer history together.
The Come In, Oxford team
For more info - read our review of Come In, Oxford, see the Museum of Oxford's digital archive on Queering Spires and read the Queer Oxford blog for lots more local history info.
Learn more about Katy's work at www.katyowencreative.com