The New Vic and award-winning circus company Upswing will begin an annual programme of work fusing contemporary circus with theatre this year, as they develop their longstanding relationship aiming to push the boundaries of the combined artform.
Highlights from the first year of the programme will include:
- Site specific performances of Upswing’s Circus Flavours for audiences and participants of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent.
- A new production of the critically-acclaimed Astley’s Astounding Adventures– one of the New Vic’s most successful shows about ‘father of the modern circus’ Philip Astley.
- Two circus skills summer schools, widening access to cultural opportunities for communities, including young people at risk of exclusion.
The partnership programme, made possible as part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding, will see the two organisations further develop their creative collaborations, which began in 2009 with Bryony Lavery’s The Wicked Lady. Building on the work of the New Vic’s Circus Past, Present and Future celebrations in 2018, this ambitious partnership aims to bring circus home – to Newcastle-under-Lyme, where Philip Astley, father of the modern circus was born – and widen access to a greater range of cultural opportunities through circus-theatre work, for audiences and participants in the local area and beyond.
New Vic Artistic Director Theresa Heskins said: “Newcastle-under-Lyme is the place where the modern day circus was invented, by Philip Astley, and it’s really rewarding that this year we can continue the work started in 2018, to truly celebrate the town’s circus legacy, and artistically, bring circus home. Thanks to support from the Arts Council as part of our National Portfolio funding, the New Vic and Upswing can also develop our partnership further – looking for more ways to combine circus and theatre together, in ambitious ways. It feels like a really important moment for both us, for the industry, and for audiences!”
Upswing Artistic Director and New Vic Associate Director Vicki Dela Amedume MBE said: “Upswing have been working with the New Vic for 14 years on projects to fuse circus and theatre together, experimenting on productions to tell stories in extraordinary ways. I’m so excited that we are now able to develop this relationship further to create an annual programme of work that will allow us to be even more ambitious, more inventive, celebrating the skills and talents of circus artists through exciting new performance, engagement and professional development projects. I’m looking forward to reaching out to the communities of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent and taking the artform back to the place where it all began.”
Circus Flavours, Upswing’s live circus showcase featuring Global Majority artists, is a unique celebration of the art of circus performance that allows audience members to witness a highly skilful and energetic circus spectacle before having the chance to ‘have-a-go’ themselves. Free performances will be open to audience members aged 7 and up and offer an opportunity to participate in an exciting experience from the award-winning contemporary circus company later this year. Audiences can find out more about Circus Flavours in Upswing’s award-winning film at upswing.org.uk/circus-flavours/
Astley’s Astounding Adventures, a new production of one of the New Vic’s most ambitious shows in recent years, will bring the story of Philip Astley back to life this September and combines the directing talents of Theresa Heskins (Marvellous, New Vic and @sohoplace) and Vicki Dela Amedume MBE, who most recently collaborated together on the Olivier award-winning production, The Worst Witch. This spectacular show will also help shine a light on Newcastle-under-Lyme’s 850th anniversary celebrations of when the local borough received its charter and aims to artistically magnify the town’s circus legacy.
More information about both productions, and the circus skills summer school programme led by Upswing, will be announced shortly.
The ambitious programme of work will be an annual collaboration, beginning this year as part of the organisations’ NPO funding.
Further details about Circus Flavours and Astley’s Astounding Adventures, including details of how to secure tickets, will be available soon. For more information visit newvictheatre.org.uk.