Journeys, John Street and Juggling

WARNING, reminiscing on the way... 

After a 5 year occupation Nofit State Circus is moving out of its John Street building, a place which has been my own personal circus home as well as for many others. I rememeber the first day I went to the building and it was as empty as it is now that we are leaving (in fact emptier...more on that later.) It was very early in my Nofitstate life, I'm pretty sure after Parklife - Pontardawe and we drove to John Street to drop some set off. I went in first through the back door and there was literally nothing in the building... We were moving in the first things. Fast forwards September 2010 to December 2015... Journey's, the final show in John Street was on the weekend and it was quite a whirlwind. It was definitely the most technically challenging show that I've found myself head rigger for, with many aerial acts (7 hoops, 7 trapezes, 3 ropes, 4 silks, you get the picture...) a tightwire, ropes in the foyer, trapezes in the offices to manage alongside as I often find myself, performing several acts as well. Here are some of my highlights...


I haven't performed a solo juggling act in a while now (except the section in my solo show) and I forgot how hard it is!!! I went in to my creative process for my Journeys act with one primary aim, to make an act of 100% new material, not a single trick from any of my old routines. This is such a tall order but so good at the same time, it forced me to push for tricks that have been too difficult for me to perform in the past and make new tricks entirely. In the end I'm really happy with all the material I've made and I'm looking forwards to running it more at any opportunity. In the end I didn't end up performing only new material as I made a concession to myself two days before the show when I needed an extra bit of material to fit the music and I knew in my routine for this section it was crucial the tricks where totally locked down otherwise it wouldn't work as I wanted it to. I can live with this, this is part of the reason I wanted to make lots of new material, because moments like this show why it's so useful to have an expansive back catalogue of material to draw from when you need to.


First let me begin with something from my hometown. Newcastle has a training and performance space called Dance City and my favourite thing about the building is that from the moment the building was opened the breakdancers of Newcastle decided that the best floor for them to dance on in the entire mulit-million pound centre was the floor of the wide open foyer and so that's where they dance... This means you can be there working on a project or just popping in to use the toilet and there are often dancers just inside the door, training. And you can sit and watch them as you eat your sandwiches, or wait for the receptionist to be free. A similar thing happened to me at John Street, after trying every bit of floor in the main space and several other rooms I decided that the best balance between ceiling height and lighting for juggling was the foyer and so it regularly became my training space (it also had the added bonus of not being scheduled the way the main space was so I could basically be there wherever I wanted.) For this reason it became important to me that that is where I wanted to perform for Journeys, to juggle where I had always juggled, in the foyer. 

The next challenge, to put aerial in the foyer... This proposal was put forwards by Paul the director and turned out to be the most challenging rig I've done so far but I got there. The night the performers all trained together on their ropes and silks in the foyer gave me goosebumps, to see people come to the front door look through the glass and then do what they don't usually do there, look up was great, then they'd edge their was through the door, look around to work out was going on and then carefully edge their way around the room to wherever they needed to go, the building was electric that evening. 


We made a mess, but it is our mess, and it is beautiful. 

We left polystyrene all over the floor, we threw paint around rooms, left holes in the ceiling, drew on the walls, wrote poetry and made art voicing our disapproval that we have to leave because we couldn't not do these things, it would be rude not to honour our old home in this way, I wish I could be a fly on the wall when the first bull-doser arrives. 

Each thought, each step, each breath; Every beat of the blood pumping heart, Moves us inexorably forwards. We have no choice in making the journey; We can only decide on where we wish to go

I'm not sure what more I can say, so here have a few thousand words, courtesy of Mark Robson, Spike Clark and myself.