The State of Play: The (un)Convention, 13 – 16 April
Circus250 provides an ideal context and framework for us as a sector to come together to meet, to play, to discuss and debate here in the Circus Village in Newcastle-under-Lyme, the birthplace of Philip Astley – the man who created the first circus 250 years ago this year.
The convention will be about workshops, training, meeting like-minded people and exploring ideas in the spirit of playfulness and misbehaving.
At NoFit State, we believe that the circus performer is so much more interesting if they bring onstage their doubts, fears, sensuality and vulnerability. Technical excellence is not enough to engage an audience alone; without a level of humanity and contact with the audience, why should they care?
I believe that everybody whatever skills they do at whatever level will benefit and enjoy a few days of classic performance technique and the opportunity to workshop with different directors.
We have invited John and Richard from Desperate Men, Petra from Spy Monkey, Mick Barnfarther ex-Complicity and teacher at Gaulier now at NCCA, Firenza Giuidi long-standing director for NoFit State and a host of other interesting people.
The first few sessions will focus on traditional techniques where the workshop leaders will share their philosophy and performance language rooted in Buffoun, Dada, desperation, Commedia, physical theatre and physical clown — and they all take their play very seriously.
In the latter sessions, we will bring circus skills together with the performance language to inspire new creative directions and to enrich personal ongoing research and practice.There will also be opportunity for people to train in the big top as well as the traditional renegade show. Just as we have done with our own research for LEXICON we want to take a 360-degree look at the world we are in; our history, our heritage and our future.
The State of Art: a radical Circus Conference, 17 – 18 April
The State of the Art is a 2-day informal conference facilitated by Orit Azaz on Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 April. We have asked the sector to suggest topics and themes, and we have great speakers lined up. The full programme can be found here.
To set the tone, I have some provocations that I hope will stimulate the debate. To be overtly controversial I want to ask:
- Is ‘contemporary’ circus still new and original? In our constant desire to be fresh, are we in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and losing touch with the spirit and root of our art?
- Circus is a disparate and diverse art form with many strands. Is the distinction between traditional and contemporary outdated? Do we or the audience need a better language to define and understand the many strands of what we do?
- As ‘circus’ is being embraced by theatre makers and other practices and venues are opening up to the accessibility and universal appeal of our art, is our direction of travel being subverted or colonised by other sectors and their needs, agendas and views?
Tom Rack Artistic Director United Kingdom Tom is a co-founder, and Artistic Director of NoFit State. As well as producing large-scale shows (Bianco, Labyrinth, ImMortal and tabú), Tom oversees the overall artistic vision of NoFit State, including the company’s community and engagement programmes.Back in the day, Tom was a juggler and street performer as well as performing in the old blue tent and the original NoFit State shows. Over the last 30 years he has seen, and been part of, the company growing from two people working out of a back bedroom in Cardiff to the internationally renowned organisation it is today.As well as producing, Tom plays an active part in the design team - helping to develop the systems and aesthetic for the company’s touring productions.Tom enjoys creating new work that challenges what circus is, developing the art form and the NoFit State signature style.... and taking it to far flung places and amazing audiences around the world.