Far From The Norm


In 1768, Philip and Patty Astley opened their first circus on the banks of the Thames. 250 years later, this historic debut is variously celebrated across the country – and often in projects that keep an eye on the future. In Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Astley’s hometown, the New Vic Theatre distinguishes itself with activities that include a season of performances, a national conference (The State of the Art, hosted in NoFit State’s Circus Village) and Circus 50:50, which joins circus artists and theatre-makers in a year of creative change. At Somerset House in London, the Circus Sampler programme brings newly commissioned performances to the venue’s famous courtyard while a new exhibition, Circus Originals, bridges circus past and present. In Manchester, Circus House collaborates with the Royal Northern College of Music to create a youth-led performance; Sheffield’s Greentop opens a Social Circus Lab; and in Rochester, Skylight Circus Arts develops new intergenerational work. In Scotland, rising activity powers the creation of Glasgow’s Braw Circus Festival.