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An epic circus year…

An epic circus year…

9th April 2018

New Vic Special Projects Producer Gemma Thomas gives the lowdown on the theatre’s Circus Past, Present and Future celebrations for Circus250


In summer 2016, we began to seriously dream of what a year of celebrations for our son, Philip Astley “father of modern circus” might look like for the New Vic and our partners including NoFit State Circus. Our journey with Philip Astley began and of course, circus, began much before this with our relationship with Upswing, NoFit State and through our Appetite programme. Then, with The Homecoming, an annual event in Newcastle town centre produced by Appetite, Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District and Borough Council which started in 2014 and in-between we joined The Philip Astley Project Steering Group which along with a wide range of individuals and organisations we secured Heritage Lottery Funds for activities in 2016 and 2018.

Inspired by all of our local and national connections to Philip Astley and his legacy we dreamt ambitiously and were successful in applying for Arts Council England, Ambition for Excellence investment. Our contribution to the local and national celebrations was to be inspired by the past, present and future of circus and what this means to a place like Newcastle-under-Lyme and the New Vic – a theatre-in-the-round. There you have it…Circus Past, Present and Future.

Now it’s April 2018, and all those plans are in action. The place is beginning to feel the ripples of years of planning and the manifestation of action on the streets.

In this week alone we’ll have opened the newly commissioned show by NoFit State Circus – working with them the project has allowed them to return to the tradition of circus, seated and in-the-round. We can’t wait to see what they’ve made, whilst in residence during the “beast from the east parts 1 and 2” in Newcastle-under-Lyme. We’re excited to have supported the company to make something new that will go on to tour nationally and internationally – all from our doorstep! Support them by coming to see it by booking with us on 01782 717 962 or online here.

We have an exhibition at the New Vic that looks at archive images from 30 years of NoFit State which runs until 14 April, the NoFit State site has been wrapped with information about their show and an exhibition called Themes and Stories running until their last show date of 21 April.

Appetite has worked with the V&A to curate an outdoor exhibition of the museum’s collection from the time of Philip Astley to now. This exhibition has striking drawings, posters, water colours and photos and will look glorious in any weather in the town centre. It’ll be open from this weekend until 4 August – a must see!

The Circus Village is playing host to CircusWorks Youth Circus Festival until the end of the week. Over a hundred young people passionate about circus from all over the UK in Newcastle-under-Lyme, learning together.

Appetite has also been working hard with us to present CIRCOLOMBIA’s show Acéléré which will take place in the borough, Kidsgrove’s Clough Hall Park to be exact and you can already grab tickets for 10 -14 May.

And that’s events only until May, we have loads more that you can see, experience and get involved with right up to August too!

Alongside the artistic projects, we’re developing talent and people too. We have recently announced our Circus 50:50 artists, NoFit State are in the process of supporting Circus Past, Present and Future’s Associate Artists and sharing their ideas and work in development (not finished) through public events at the NoFit State Circus Village: Blakes’ Circus (Thursday 12 April at 2pm) and Milton Lopes (join his talk on 16 April at 5pm) to let us know you’re coming email:

Of course, a programme this large couldn’t happen without the passion and commitment of our teams at the New Vic and all of our partners: NoFit State Circus, Newcastle-under-Lyme BID, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, The V & A Museum, The Brampton Museum and Art Gallery, The Philip Astley Project, Circus250, The University of Sheffield, Circus Works, Circus Futures, Roundhouse, London, Upswing and many more…all playing our part. Big and small. Thank you!

To find out more pick up one of our New Vic Spring/Summer brochures or join our mailing list.

There is so much coming up and to look forward to, both as part of our season and for The Philip Astley Project, to find something that suits you visit us or

To find out what the rest of the nation is doing search #circus250.

Article by Claire Walker

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