In 2004, Clare Summerskill gathered interviews from 24 contributors for the play version of Gateway to Heaven. The play was written in the verbatim theatre style, where there is nothing in the script that has not been said by one of the interviewees. There followed a rehearsed play-reading at Oval House Theatre, where the contributors were invited to attend, along with representatives from LGBT groups and publications.
The full stage show was produced in 2006 and staged at Oval House Theatre, where it had a three-week run. As well as the evening performances, there were three matinee shows on Saturdays, which were followed by a Q&A session between the audience, the actors, the writer, the director, and some of the contributors themselves. The play then toured to theatres around the UK. It was directed by Kate Crutchley and performed by Clare Summerskill and members of her company, Artemis.
What the papers said
“An immaculately performed play.” New Statesman
“An outstanding piece of theatre, which educates as it entertains. A beautifully measured piece.” Kenric Magazine
“For some this play will be a nostalgic story, for others it will be an eye-opener to a different era, but throughout this beautifully crafted piece of theatre we feel the uplifting strength of the human spirit and hear unity across all the different voices and stories.” Gay Carers Magazine
Response from one of the contributors to seeing the show
“A big congratulations on such an amazing production. This production has helped myself, and I’m sure many others, to heal the old hurts by finally having our experiences acknowledged, witnessed and celebrated. I hope it will help our younger community to live their lives with pride and dispense with the shame so induced by the way our societies are structured.
“There are no words to fully describe the gratitude I and my older L&G colleagues have for your courage and tenacity in getting this together.”
THE FILM VERSION of GATEWAY TO HEAVEN
In 2005, Age Concern Opening Doors (Now Age UK) commissioned a film version of the play. This film is still being shown at LGBTQ film festivals and during LGBT History month events around the country. To order your copy of the DVD, please visit our Online Shop.