Circus 50:50

Circus 50:50 is an artist development programme for circus and theatre-makers, led by the New Vic Theatre in partnership with Roundhouse and Upswing. Circus 50:50 will build on the work of Roundhouse and Upswing’s Circus Directors’ Exchange Programme in 2016 and 2017.

Circus 50:50 forms part of the New Vic Theatre’s Circus Past, Present and Future programme. 2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the moment Philip Astley drew out the first circus ring, creating circus. Circus 250 will celebrate this remarkable art form in a year-long nationwide programme. The New Vic is joining the national celebrations with Circus Past, Present and Future – a programme of events that will showcase the wonder of circus for all ages in the place where Philip Astley was born.

The programme:

Circus 50:50 will see five circus-makers and five theatre-makers come together, with a team of leading industry professionals from across the UK, to understand process, explore form, skills and audience and develop a critical dialogue.

The course will be spread across three blocks, two held at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme and the third at Roundhouse, London. The course will be facilitated and led by Vicki Amedume, Artistic Director of Upswing, with sessions delivered by exceptional directors and practitioners from across the arts including the New Vic’s Artistic Director, Theresa Heskins.

A bursary of £2,000 is available for each participant as a contribution towards travel, accommodation and expenses.


The three blocks will be designed to cover three areas of creating work – developing pieces before creation, during creation (practical rehearsal room skills) and after/during (including marketing and touring work).

The three blocks will take place as follows –

Block One: 13 – 16 April 2018 at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Block Two: 20 – 24 April 2018 at Roundhouse, London as part of CircusFest

Block Three: 3 – 6 May 2018 at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme

We are seeking practitioners that:         

  • Have a background in directing (or taking the lead in the creation of) theatre or circus
  • Have experience of their own discipline, but are looking for opportunities to explore other art forms
  • Want to explore different approaches to creating work
  • Want to investigate how different creative tools and principles can be applied to both circus and theatre
  • Want to meet artists and gain an insight into how other makers approach the creation process


  • To explore and share processes within the art forms of circus and theatre
  • To develop a critical dialogue across the art forms
  • To analyse, and appreciate, the similarities and differences between all art forms and use this understanding to develop individual processes and the sectors as a whole
  • To provide practical sessions that will develop artists’ process and understanding
  • To create an inclusive sharing environment, and a peer support system across the art forms
  • To build connections between audiences, and explore new ways of bringing audiences to each art form
  • To build on the work of Roundhouse and Upswing’s Circus Directors’ Creative Exchange programme
  • To allow individuals an opportunity to reflect on their own process and practice

To apply:

To apply, please provide the following information to Applications will close at 12pm on Friday 15 December.

  • A CV
  • A (max 300 words) outline of a project you have been directly involved in creating and the main things you learned in making it.
  • What would you be looking to learn from the Circus 50:50 programme, and what do you feel you can offer the group/process (max 300 words)


Interviews will be held on Monday 8 January 2018 at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Tuesday 9 January 2018 at Roundhouse, London. We ask applicants are available for at least one of these dates as we will not be able to offer alternative interview times.

Circus 50:50 forms part of the New Vic Theatre’s Circus Past, Present and Future programme which has been made possible thanks to support from Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence programme.

Circus Past Present and Future has been created by the New Vic in partnership with NoFit State Circus, Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Brampton Museum and Art Gallery, The Philip Astley Project, Sheffield University, and the New Vic led Creative People and Places Programme, Appetite.