Chapter 4

Stepping Stones to the Millennium

Tom Rack talking (in 1999) about the Stepping Stone project, plans for the new UFO tent, and his dreams of all the kinds of work which the circus has gone on to create, in the following years.

"The plan is a big new show, the most fantastic, exciting, circus, theatre, warehouse, community, arts spectacular showcase event, ever."
Tom Rack

Video by Lissy Moore and InDVideo.

Stepping Stones

Ali and John in Conversation


5 mins Ali Williams and John Ellingsworth talk about the warehouse shows, the community projects - the Stepping Stones trilogy

July 1997

Receive Arts For All Lottery grant


Receive Arts for All lottery grant for £83,000 to produce Prophecy ( 1st stage of 3 year community project )

Sept - Dec 1997

Prophecy - first Stepping Stone

Community shows

Go to Show Page

Produce “Prophecy” a large scale mixed media community show involving over 300 people aged 7-70 who worked with a professional team.
We collaborated with many established community arts organisations to produce a highly rated sell out show.

Working with Cardiff community groups the company created “Prophecy”, attracting £83,666 from The National Lottery, £2,000 from S.M.E’s and over £10,000 in kind sponsorship.
This was Wales’ largest ever community arts programme.

Date Unknown

The Stepping Stones project

Company business


3 Small Steps……1 Giant Leap

Step 1 Prophecy (The Past) December 1997

From September to December NoFit State Circus worked in collaboration with community organisations, colleges and individuals to create one of Wales’ largest community shows. The community arts organisations included S.W.I.C.A, The Rubicon, Community Music Wales, and Patua Dance. The Welsh College of Music and Drama, the University of Glamorgan and the multi-media and interactive arts department of the University College of Wales (Newport) encouraged their students to be involved. Individual members of the community were also given the opportunity to take part.

NoFit State Circus, with financial assistance from the Lottery Arts for All fund, and British Steel Community Awards supported these organisations and individuals by funding a series of workshops, providing directorial help, and offering training and facilities. These covered dance, circus, drama, music, visual art, stage management and production.

The various performance groups developed their own thoughts and ideas around the theme of “prophecy” and determined for themselves how they wished to express themselves. A writer and director then developed a narrative that linked these elements. Similarly the artists involved worked with a design team to create a total environment. As well as creating a set to fill the huge warehouse venue, they built interactive art installations. The Circus again provided training, materials, facilities (eg. video editing suite) and technicians.

Fundamental to the success of the project were the services of a highly committed team of professionals. An experienced production team backed up the director, writer and designer. Five actors and eight circus performers were also employed as an integral part of the final show.

Prophecy explored whether our lives today fulfilled the predictions of people in the past and was described as “a roller-coaster ride through time that includes dance, music, interactive technology, video and performance theatre” (Cardiff Post). It involved more than 350 participants and was performed to a total audience of over 1000 people over 5 nights.

Step 2 Present) December 1998

This project will build on the success of Prophecy. Again it will be a multi-media, site-specific spectacle. The basic organisational format will be repeated to consolidate on last year’s achievements. New developments will focus on outreach work, particularly working with groups and individuals not usually involved in the arts. It is also planned to involve groups from outside Cardiff, currently discussions are being held with groups from Swansea, Newport and Merthyr.

Step 3 Untitled (The Future) December 1999 – April 2000

This third production is the final stepping-stone to setting up a network of circus-based community arts activity throughout Wales. To achieve this it is proposed that a trilogy of Prophecy style projects be undertaken around Wales. Three locations would host the projects with involvement from a wide geographical and arts practice base.

Step 3 (The Future) would unfold with each stage of the trilogy developing and adding to the last. The first stage will take place in Cardiff using the human resources developed in Steps 1 and 2. For the following two locations the same professionals and infrastructure would be used. However, workshop programmes would have been set up in each locality to involve community members and groups. These would then form the backbone of the show.

It is planned to purchase a new custom-made big top and supporting equipment to use as a venue for these productions.

The Giant Leap May – October 2000

This brings the new format of show, developed by Steps 1 to 3, in to the core work of the company. A fully professional company in a new big top with new technical resources will create new standards in spectacular theatre. Touring in Wales it will leave an important legacy for performance groups throughout the country creating and developing new audiences. It will create an awareness of the exciting developments in circus and related arts and, hopefully, inspire future practitioners.

It will not just be a first class show, however, as it will also provide a platform for the arts developed by the different communities in the previous years. Hopefully, it will even contain participants from these community shows on a professional level.

In its first year (2000) it will tour to Millennium celebration events around the Principality. At such events and festivals it will allow organisers to programme other performances, exhibitions, etc. in the big top.

[Sponsors were still being hunted for...]

Dear [sponsor]

NoFit State Circus is just about to start creating their second of four large-scale, multi-media circus spectaculars. The first, Prophecy, took place in Cardiff last December. The second will again happen in Cardiff later this year. However, the third and fourth will take place in other locations around Wales in 1999 and 2000.

We are looking for organisations to act as partners in putting on these productions. Basically we are seeking 2 locations to stage large-scale community projects in early 2000, and up to ten Millennium celebration events to host the professional spectacular developed from the community shows. The enclosed document gives further information about this work.

We are seeking funding from the Lottery Board of the Arts Council of Wales through both the Arts for All and the Millennium funds. Arts for All will pay towards the community projects whilst the Millennium fund will subsidise the professional tour. We would expect from any partners a financial commitment and/or help in kind to make these projects a success. We would also welcome a creative input from partners to shape the community project.

If you think you are interested in either project and wish further information please contact either Ali Williams or myself at the address below. A CD-ROM will be available shortly of the Prophecy project.

Yours sincerely

Tom Rack


The achievements of NoFit State Circus have been increasingly recognised over the past several years. In 1989 the company won the Welsh Community Business of the Year award and agreed a three year sponsorship package with ASW. Funding from Cardiff City Council, South Glam County Council and the Welsh Arts Council followed. The company holds both the Cardiff and Glasgow Street Entertainment Awards. In 1994 NoFit State Circus won the ABSA/Swalec sponsorship award for the company that has best used its sponsorship money.

The company tours, to great acclaim, throughout the UK in theatres or its own big top providing high quality accessible circus theatre productions. Alongside this the company is heavily involved in large-scale community workshops and shows, including their recent high profile work with Welsh National Opera. We produce our own large-scale community shows. During the past 3 years the company has developed it’s own new innovative style which uses a combination of traditional performance and new technologies.

The company is at present seeking sponsors for Steps 3 and 4 of it’s Stepping Stones Project. The benefits of this project to the community are enormous, however for the project to succeed a large amount of partnership funding needs to be invested into the company to release Lottery Arts for All and Capital grants.


1. Title rights on £100,000 State of the Art project for an investment of only 10%-25% of the total project cost. The majority of the expenditure will be covered by the Lottery
NoFit State Circus and (your company) present……..

2.Print Branding- Inclusion of your company name on all publicity for the event i.e. posters, leaflets & programs.

3.On site Branding- Your banners, logos etc. can be displayed at the project site.

4.Media Branding- Your name will be mentioned in all press, radio, and TV coverage. We already have a film co. interested in a documentary about the project, and will have a marketing/ press officer working on the project from Sept.

5.Hospitality- You may run VIP functions at the site and will be entitled to free tickets to any of the performances.

6. Sales Promotion- You may display, demonstrate and sell products at the event.

7.You will have the chance to be associated with an innovative, community project and have the opportunity to invest in the local community.

1997 - 2000

Millennium Dome project

Other News

A misconceived Tory project got a green light from Tony Blair, rather than cancelled.

The two brilliant and original schemes to celebrate the modern world of innovation and the 21st Century? A fairground Big Wheel, and a Circus Tent.

To fill such a vast space involved calling in the aerialists.

Tim Adam goes off to co-ordinate performers for the Millennium Show.


NoFit State 'winter projects'

Company business

NoFit State Community Circus
Winter Projects.
NoFit State Circus in at present in the middle of a three year large scale community project, this is funded by the Arts Council of Wales lottery dept and other smaller project partners.

The type of production we are undertaking is best described as Mixed means theatre. This genre is defined in the Dictionary of the Avant garde as; “Performance that de-emphasis speech in the course of using a variety of means, including human bodies, light, film, objects and stagecraft.”

We collaborate with;
• visual artists
• musicians
• dance groups
• installation and interactive artists
• designers
• actors
• circus performers
• photographers
The performers and participants come from existing community groups and from the professional and academic community.

We create is an event that is more than a show. For this exciting and innovative style of work we use the term “total theatre”. The audience come in to the space where they encounter installations and other visual arts these works all refer to an implied narrative and are just as significant as the live performance. They work together to give the audience a total experience.

The audience are not always “controlled” they have the option of exploring the space and discovering different elements at different times. Some pieces will happen simultaneously giving the audience the opportunity and the incentive to navigate the space. This will give people the chance to interact with the event and gain a personal perspective.
Some things may be presented more than once perhaps in different location within the space or with a different emphasis.

This format has many practical advantages besides its artistic aspirations. Community groups can be involved in creating their own episodes, which can be worked on independently.
All ranges of ability can be accommodated and their potential maximised. For example if children’s dance troupe or a group of musicians with learning difficulties want to just do a five minute routine this can be presented within a profile they feel happy with.

In essence artists and community members have the creative freedom to create their own work.

8 - 12 Dec 1998

Now.Here - second Stepping Stone

Community shows

Go to Show Page

"Also the community project Now.Here had two satellite projects that were filmed and integrated into show. We worked with Circus Eruption in Swansea (fire show in Morfa stadium on bonfire night ) and Syrcus Circus in North Wales who did a promenade circus show in a Y fenol, a welsh stately home near Bangor" (Ali W)


No Fit State Circus are collaborating with many community groups in Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Merthyr to create “Now.Here” their winter show for 1998.

Performed in a Cardiff warehouse between the 8th and 12th of December it will feature new technologies, video arts, interactive installations alongside circus, drama and live music. Elements of the show have been created through a four month long outreach- workshop-development programme with over 200 participants.

“Now.Here” is the second part the “Stepping-Stones” programme which will reinvent the company as instigators of an original form of popular entertainment, identify them as leaders in the popular-culture renaissance of Wales, and place them at the centre of sustainable relationships with businesses, professional artists, educationalists, and economic regeneration programmes across the country.

By working with a wide range of collaborators the company is able to use its core skills in Circus arts, drama, music and creative technologies to attract members of the most disadvantaged communities, build their confidence, aspiration, independent learning and transferable skills through the challenge of creating an original event, and introduce them to a range of opportunities for further education, development and employment.

Stepping Stones is a Four year programme;

1997; Working with Cardiff community groups the company created “Prophecy”, attracting £83,666 from The National Lottery, £2,000 from S.M.E’s and over £10,000 in kind sponsorship. This was Wales’ largest ever community arts programme.

1998; “Now.Here”, involves 17 groups in a programme culminating in the Cardiff show they include;

a) A collaboration with Cyfartha School in Merthyr. Having bought the school new software the company is training staff and pupils in Adobe photoshop. Some of their work will feature in the Christmas show while a separate exhibition will be held in Merthyr in January.

b) Work with 2nd and 3rd year students on the Interactive Arts Bsc at Newport College to create interactive work. This programme is in its second year and has become a recognised course module. The work will feature in both the show and the exhibition. as an initial stage in encouraging positive links between the school and the college. Part funded by Newport Council.

c) A workshop programme developing a November the 5th performance in Swansea’s Morfa Stadium will featuring sixty young people in their first show, this segues into the Cardiff production. Part funded by Swansea council.

d) At the same time the company is working with Bangra drummers, Brazilian dancers, Samba bands, two dance groups, three youth groups, the Drama Department of the University of Glamorgan, Community Music Wales, developing two circus groups, a video group, a choir and a new group of artists using computer technology in Cardiff.

The project is part funded by the lottery to £1000,000 while the company needs to raise £10,000 in matching funding.

1999. By building a large tent, a mobile warehouse the company will be able to take this model anywhere. By developing a network of organisations in Wales it will be possible to tour a similar programme. The Arts Council of Wales just awarded £5470 for a feasibility study and initial approaches to other organisations. The tent will be built in time for the Cardiff winter show providing the company raise £108,000 in matching funding.

2000 The company will tour its new model in Wales.

If you would like further information about “Stepping Stones” or any of the companies other activities please contact Dominic Campbell, Ali Williams or Tom Rack on 01222 488734.

These are the groups involved in the project so far. There are also a large number of individuals who have expressed an interest in participating, particularly in design and construction, who will begin in the next few weeks.


Splott State Circus
South Wales Intercultural Arts (S.W.I.C.A)
Sherman Theatre Youth Group
Community Voices
Willows High School
Community Music Wales, a number of groups will work with them.
Experimental Dance, Ian Devereux
Interactive Arts
Riverside Community Bangra Group
Dance Group, Morega
Contemporary Dance, Gem Treays
Brazilian Dance, Fernanda Amarel
The Underdogs
University of Glamorgan, Drama Department

Special Needs Music Group
Circus Eruption, Integrated circus group
Swansea College, dance group

Cyfartha High School

Newport College, Bsc course in Creative Technologies


Workshops are ongoing, taking place every night of the week in various locations ( schools, community centres etc. ).

The writer, director, and production crew become full-time on November the 2nd.

The Swansea part of the project culminates in a November the 5th performance.

The get in to the venue is November the 9th, from then on construction will begin full time.

On site rehearsals take place from November the 23rd. Technical rehearsals during the weekend of December the 5th and 6th, Dress rehearsal on Monday the 7th.

Shows run from the 8th to the 12th of December.

Get out from 13th onwards.


Mix 'n Match Circus Roadshow offered


Was this successful? I don't have any details, hiring or tour dates, etc.

Download ➝
March 1999

Business plan / feasibility study 1999

Company business Download ➝
8 - 11 Apr 1999

NFSC offer Renegade venue for BJC#12




Perthcelyn Fire Show

Community shows

This was a community fire project in Perthcelyn, an estate in the Welsh Valleys run by Peter Gregory, Goffee, Jem Treys and others / Over a couple of months we worked with local kids teaching fire skills, movement and making skills. The project culminated in a big fire show and performance around Bonfire Night.

6-11 Aug 1999

Lizard Festival


NoFit State took part in the Lizard Festival for the Eclipse - in Newnham Park, Devon.

last accessed 25 Feb 2000

Traces of an old website

Company business

It contains details of:













2000 - 2001

Office in Ali's house


Bermuda trip


First international invite to play at a festival in Bermuda.

Pete and Ali doing Risky , Lynn and Howie on stilts, and The Splott brothers.


Commission new tent

Company business
2000 - 2001

Ali does business management course


Ali did a part-time, post-graduate diploma in Arts Management, as part of the process of creating the Business Plan for Sci-Circus (which toured in 2002)

2000 - 2007 ish

The Agency

Company business

From the old website (2000)


Whether you are booking acts to fill the Big Top, or for your own special event or celebration, NoFit State Circus can provide you with top quality entertainers at competitive prices. From corporate promotions and dinner dances to festivals, fundays, and fetes, we can supply an extensive range of different acts, locally, nationally and internationally.

Performers and Companies

CIRCUS-THEATRE at its best with a 60 minute show from the Bash Street Co. A colourful mix of silent comedy, live music and circus skills combining escapology, stilts, giant unicycles, juggling, acrobatics and a whole lot more in a unique style of knock-out, knockabout circus.

AERIAL TRAPEZE, CLOUDSWING OR WEBROPE outdoor spectacular. Guaranteed to make an audience gasp in amazement and ideal to create a magical centrepiece for any event. Some shows are also suitable for inside the tent.

CHILDREN’S ENTERTAINMENT from our wide and varied repertoire, all of which have been successfully incorporated within festivals and events. Too many shows to mention here, but here’s a few anyway - RISKY IN PINK, FRANCIS MAXEY ON THE SLACKROPE OF FEAR, PADDY THE CLOWN and more. Most children’s shows run for approx. forty minutes, the list is long. Professional delivery of the giggles guaranteed.

ADULT CABARET - the up and coming entertainment option. Mix music, comedy and performance to create a dynamic, exotic and extraordinary night out.

WALKABOUT CHARACTERS - Big, bold and often beautiful. Stilt walking, unicycling, music-making, juggling and generally playing the fool, these attention seekers will animate any environment. Characters can be adapted to fit your theme. Or not Ð the choice is yours.

FIRE FANTASTIC - highly skilled fire jugglers, eaters, swingers and blowers, guaranteed to increase the heat. Give the word ‘fireworks’ a different meaning and let the sparks fly!

13 - 16 Apr 2000

Renegade at York BJC#13

Summer 2000

UFO tent used for Mardi Gras

5 Nov 2000

Trail Blazers

Community shows
19-22 April 2001

Organise 14th British Juggling Convention in Cardiff

14 May 2001

UFO tent surprises people


This article was in The Bath Chronicle

16 June 2001

UFO hired to Gatecrasher Festival

7-8 July 2001

UFO hired to Battle of the Bands


In Coopers Field, Cardiff

11 Sept 2001

9/11 attack on Twin Towers

29 Mar - 1 Apr 2002

BJC #15 - blue tent as venue


NoFit State Big top was used for Renegade and Circus School Showcase Show.

BJC in Whitstable

some video on You Tube


Sci-Circus tours in Blue Tent


Go to Show Page

Sci-Circus finished their tour in Cardiff Castle, in July.

The UFO tent had been set up in Cooper's Field, next to the castle, and some of the equipment (like the new rollatrack flooring) was carried straight from one to the other!

ImMortal (the community show) opened a few days later.

8 July 2002

Reilly dies


A 13 minute memorial for Reilly. A film by Govinda, hosted on Vimeo by Mark Morreau.

A poem about Immortality
By J.C.Reilly


You and I are made of stardust
Born before the sun began
Atoms present at the creation
Witness to the first big bang

Cruising interstellar highways
Surfing through the universe
Basking in the supernovas
Forming suns and moons and earth

You and I are made of stardust
Born before the star began
Atoms present at the creation
Witness to the first big bang

Following life's master plan
Boiled up in primordial soup
Spued forth from volcanic flow
Ground to dust in plate tectonics
Evolutions come and go

But you and I are made of stardust
Born before the star began
Atoms present at the creation
Witness to the first big bang

Destined now to be human
We are blessed with conscious thought
We know time will take its toll
So if there's a chance I know what I want
Sex and drugs and Rock and Roll

You and I are made of stardust
Born before the star began
Atoms present at the creation
Witness to the first big bang
Going to where we began
You and I are made of stardust


ImMortal - third Stepping Stone

August 2002

Sci-Circus material goes on mini-tour

Gaz and Dan took the interactive toys and games on a tour of community centres, etc.


Circus Space offers BA (Hons)

Other News

"In 2002 Circus Space became an affiliate of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama (CDD), a specialist umbrella institution coordinating the activities of a small group of well-respected schools, including Rada and the Rambert ballet school. This raised the profile of Circus Space as a provider of higher-level vocational training, and cranked up circus arts a notch. Like English or history, it became the subject of a full three-year BA (Hons) degree.
From a long feature about Circus Space in The Telegraph

2002 - 2003

Office in Clifton Street

Date Unknown

Application to tour ImMortal professionally


Compilation video, from the three Stepping Stone projects, to support an application to the Arts Council of England for funding for a professional tour of Immortal, through the National Touring Programme.