Chapter 2

NoFit State is formed

Ali introduces this chapter in the video.

The five founder members (l to r) Richie Turner, Tom Rack, Pete Gregory, Ali Williams, Dave Id.

A retrospective of Circus in the late 80's by Tina Banks


Tina and Henry Bassadone headed up Circus Burlesque one of the few touring 'new' rather than 'traditional' circus companies of the time.

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1986 -1990

Ali and John in Conversation - Arts Play Umbrella

12 minutes. Ali Williams and John Ellingsworth in conversation about the years that led to the formation of NoFit State - and, eventually, the purchase of their own tent.

1 April 1986

Fool Time opens in Bristol

Other News

Fool Time began life as a training course for would-be cirque performers, based in St Agnes Church, on the edge of the M32 in St Paul's.

18 - 21 Sept 1986

Balls Up go to Spanish juggling convention


Richie talking about going to juggling conventions, and busking. (2 mins 40 secs)

The download offers you more pictures (from the collection of Dave Id, with thanks).

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NoFit State formed

Company business

Five founder members apply for Enterprise Allowance - as NoFit State Circus

April - Dec 1986

NoFit State Circus - 1st year


Street shows for local festivals APRIL-AUG
Workshops for local playschemes in Circus Skills APRIL-AUG
Tour of France and Spain in our first ever bus AUG- SEPT
Wrote “The PANTOMIME” and toured 30 S. Wales Infant and Junior schools SEPT-DEC

13 Nov 1986

Techniquest opens in Cardiff

Major Collaborations

Techniquest on Wikipedia
Techniquest website
NoFit State liaised with Techniquest several times. Techniquest were involved with making science props for The Defective Detective (1992).
Publicity photos for Alice (1996) were taken in the Mirror Maze (see above), and in The Ames Room.
They also influenced Sci-Circus (2002).

22 Nov 1986

Performing for charity


Raising money for the BBC Children In Need campaign.

1986 - 1991


Major Collaborations

The poster dates from 1987 - celebrating the 1st birthday of Meltdown.

You can hear Ali Williams and Paul Clarke (with Toby) chatting about those days - when they met up on 16 Sept 2015, in John Street.

Below is a quote from an earlier conversation, which appears on both the Theatre In Wales site, and on the birthday site.

"Meltdown began in the tiny downstairs bar at Chapter Arts Centre in 1986, and within months a bunch of five wastrels and vagabonds – Ali, Tom, Pete, Richie and Dave Id - styling themselves ‘Balls Up Jugglers’ started using our open stage to fling objects around - clubs, balls, beer glasses, knives ... Tables directly in front of the stage mysteriously emptied - just the odd tumbleweed rolling past. And then, as Meltdown experimented with gigs in the Theatre upstairs, the jugglers mounted unicycles, played with fire, mutated into No Fit State Circus and grew more and more ambitious and deluded. We’ll buy a giant circus tent, they thought. We’ll harness the skills of the whole community for ambitious circus and multi-media spectaculars. We’ll tour the world, to great acclaim, as an insanely innovative and creatively radical circus/theatre collective, winning awards and hearts wherever we go..."

For more of this conversation, visit the Timeline entry in Chapter 5, for the shared 20th Birthday Party in Nov 2006.

NoFit State Circus and Meltdown - from the Theatre in Wales website

The Meltdown 20th Birthday Party website, includes the same chat (as quoted) between Paul Clarke and Ali Williams


Risky in Pink and Dangerous Duo formed

Company business

Go to Dangerous Page
Go to Risky Page

The same five founder members successfully re-applied for Enterprise Allowance support, as two separate groups, Dangerous Duo and Risky in Pink

Ali and Dave work as The Dangerous Duo and Tour 40 S Wales Schools and Playschemes April - September

Pete, Tom and Richie form Risky in Pink and tour 30 venues doing Street shows and Festivals April - September

General workshops continue in Schools and Playschemes

31 Jan 1987

Shows in schools

13 Feb 1987

Hitting the news

3 Apr 1987

Cardiff Bay Development Corp. founded

Other News

The Cardiff Bay Development Corporation was set up by the United Kingdom Government on 3 April 1987 to redevelop one sixth of the area of Cardiff to create Cardiff Bay.


The Pantomime


Go to Show Page

Tour of 15 S Wales village halls with “ The Panto” January - April

The Panto is performed in Zippo’s first Tent in 5 venues across the UK July - August


Welsh Community Business Award


Company wins Welsh Community Business Award of £500

Download a picture of the comedy version of the award ceremony.

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24 Dec 1987

Busking in the market


Outside Cardiff's traditional indoor market

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January - July 1988

Risky and Dangerous


Risky In Pink and The Dangerous Duo perform for councils and festivals across Britain

23 Feb 1988

Benefit shows for Nicaragua trip


NoFit State performed their "Pantomime" show at Canton Labour Club, on Tuesday 23 Feb - tickets available from Munchies on Crwys Road.

This was a fund-raiser for the Jugglers For Peace trip to Nicaragua, that Ali went on.

There were other benefit evenings at, for instance, Meltdown at Chapter Arts Centre.

5-6 Mar 1988

Patterns in Passing at BJC#1


NoFit State Circus ran a workshop at the first British Juggling Convention, on the Saturday - Patterns in Passing

Colombo Street Sports Centre, London, SE1 8DP

Dangerous Duo did knife-throwing routine in the public show - with Dave Id dressed as Uncle Sam, and Ali as Nick Aragua - he threw knives at her, and she caught them and threw them back.

14 Apr 1988

Workshops in the park

July 1988

Glasgow Garden festival

Company business

Toured “Every Witch Way But Up”, round 24 Glasgow Housing estates

Date Unknown

Early pictures from 88 and 89


A few more pictures can be downloaded

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Aug - Sept 1988

Ali and Jugglers for Peace


From an article in Jugglers World, by Graham Ellis, Fall 1988.

"Juggling for Peace in Nicaragua these last three years has provided me with experiences beyond my wildest fantasies. As a juggler in a country like Nicaragua, one finds oneself in a very privileged situation. I've been able to go places and to meet people that most visitors rarely see. I've met everyone from wounded orphans to well-armed contras, and found they all love to laugh and open up their lives to the clown or juggler who brings them fun and joy amidst the traumas of war.

I doubt somehow that I will ever receive a higher compliment than the appreciation shown to us last year when the head of a village defence militia told us that during our show he and his comrades had finally been able to forget the war for a few minutes. It was the village where Benjamin Linder had lived. How inspired and humbled I now feel to have seen the work that Ben, our brother juggler for peace, had accomplished. It wasn't a world juggling record that brought Ben international honors and respect, but his commitment to the process for peace and progress for the Nicaraguan people. [...] "While in Nicaragua this year, Jugglers for Peace received an invitation from the director of the Cuban circus to perform for a month at an international circus festival in Havana next August. "




Workshop projects begin i.e. working with children - over a longer period towards performances


ASW sponsorship


ASW see NoFit State Circus perform The Pantomime and offer a sponsorship deal of £5000 towards putting together a new show - "Every Witch Way But Up".


Every Witch Way But Up


Go to Show Page

“Every Witch Way but Up”, toured round 18 Village Halls in S Wales January - April

Toured “Every Witch Way but Up” in APU Marque for 10 weeks May - July

Aug 1989

Ali in Cuba


Ali invited to perform in Cuban international circus festival


The first Circus Space opens

Other News

The original Circus Space occupied a (legally) squatted building in North Road, Islington, London.

The desperate need for the capital city to have a permanent circus training space, large enough to allow aerial work, etc meant that a team of unpaid volunteers felt sufficiently motivated to start creating one.

An article in Kaskade juggling magazine for Jan 1990 can be found here - entitled The Circus Has No Home


Dodo costume from Circus Burlesque's 'Alice'


The Dodo head, that was later used in the NoFit State show Dodo Island (in 1993) was originally made for Circus Burlesque for their 1989 show Alice in Wonderland, shown here and worn by Julian Wisdom. The Head was bought from Burlesque as the company folded at the end of 1990. Also purchased was the 'fun to put up' tiered seating, floor cloths, the knife box and trolley, the Substitution Trunk and probably a few more things going for a song.

November 1989

Berlin Wall comes down

Other News
13 Dec 1989 - 13 Jan 1990

Circus Moon


Pete and Richie 'moonlight' as part of the Circus Moon show at the Half Moon theatre in London.

31 March 1990

Poll Tax riot

Largest Poll Tax riot in London

May - Aug 1990

ASW funding received


ASW give us another £5000 to produce ‘A Wish Washes Whiter’, which tours in Arts Play Umbrella tent for 20 weeks across the UK.


A Wish Washes Whiter


Go to Show Page

NoFit State tour this show with Arts Play Umbrella.

The video on the Show Page has one complete show on it, followed by backstage footage, including receiving the ASW grant of £5000 (at about 1:18:02) and then the start of the second show.
(We may well edit it down at some point but this is the whole of the original VHS tape.)


Risky wins Cardiff Street Entertainers Award


Heineken International Street Entertainers contest

Aug 1990

Risky win Glasgow Street Entertainers Award

Sept - Dec 1990

Winter workshops


Workshop programme in Cardiff

11 Feb 1990

Nelson Mandela free

Other News

Meltdown moves to Club Ifor Bach

1 December 1990

Buy Blue Tent


£10,000 sponsorship deal with ASW enabled us to buy our own tent.

Mike Hurst converted a circular, one-pole tent into a two-pole tent.