‘Running away with the circus’ often conjures up the idea of romance, a pipe dream or a fantasy world for those living the life of nine to five. So when we met Ellis at NoFit State’s Narberth performance of the 2019 LEXICON tour, we took the opportunity to hear his story; from Carmarthen based student to tightrope walker, in a show of international standing.
NoFit State was formed in Cardiff in 1986 by five friends, as a creative response to a politically charged world and time of recession. They specialise in contemporary circus, combining live music, dance, stage design, text, and film with traditional circus skills.
Today, 250 years on from Philip Astley’s invention of circus, NoFit State is the UK’s leading large-scale contemporary circus company, producing professional touring productions and a wide variety of community, training, and education projects for people of all ages.
So how did a boy from Carmarthen find the opportunity to travel the world with a world standard circus community?
Prior to meeting Ellis, we watched him open the show with an incredible, powerful and at times, teeth-clenching tightrope performance as headteacher of the dusty classroom. Later, in true form of the multi-talented circus family, he took to the drums to perform exceptional live music with the NoFit State band.
After a standing ovation finale, which we were wholeheartedly part of, Ellis popped over to say hi, looking dapper in braces and bow tie and a smile oozing from ear to ear having just closed the curtain on their first Pembrokeshire performance.
Ellis was keen to share his story.
He told us he had an early interest in forming a creative career, his talents supported and perhaps influenced by artist mum and musician dad. At 16, he was studying at college following a path into broadcast media, when he saw a project called Parklife happening locally.
Parklife was a community engagement project run by NoFit State in 2009/10, where locals up and down the UK were invited to come to learn and share circus skills with their family of world class artists.
Ellis who was part of South Wales based youth circus, Organised Kaos immediately engaged with the Llanelli based project and his Parkour skills were welcomed by NoFit State. It was at this point he seized the opportunity to travel with Parklife on their UK show circuit and participate as a member of the community in several large scale outdoor shows.
His experience with Parklife led to other NoFit State projects and he joined the crew full time, volunteering and practising circus skills whenever he got the chance.
It was in 2010 that Ellis was invited to perform in a NotFit State show as a tightrope walker. He modestly shared the iconic moment of when his friend and circus colleague Tanc Ingram, the company’s current tightrope performer literally handed him the ropes.
Tanc’s main focus was working as a show rigger and Ellis’ ability to ‘walk the wire’ coupled with his natural affinity to work as part of the circus family, opened up a spotlight role.
“OK Ellis”, said Tanc, Ellis reminisced to us, “You’re good enough to take my place, so go for it, it’s all yours.”
10 years on, Ellis, now 25 is still youthful and at his fitness prime. He tells us how thankful he was to have turned up at the Parklife project as it was this that opened the door to circus life.
We are honored to have shared Ellis’ story. You see, we really did hear about a boy that ran away to the circus!
What’s most important to note here, is that Ellis took the initiative to find that door. If you really want something in life, the door doesn’t necessarily come to you.
Thanks Ellis for taking the time to chat and we look forward to seeing you next time (in fact we’ll be back a second time before you leave Narberth), looking down from one of the most unique stages in the world.
LEXICON 2019 Tour
[photography credit Mark J Robson (ineptgravity)]
02921 321 021 /
Performances 24 May – 9 June
Matinees 2pm or 4pm
Evenings 7pm or 7.30pm
Bluestone National Park Resort, Canaston Woods, Narberth, Pembrokeshire, SA67 8DE
LEXICON is commissioned by the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle under Lyme, and funded by Arts Council England and the Arts Council of Wales.
Co-produced in partnership with: Les Tombées de la Nuit, Biennale Internationale des Arts du Cirque, Cirque Jules Verne, Pôle National des Arts du Cirque et Arts de la Rue.
Presented at Bluestone with Support from Theatr Mwldan & Torch Theatre.
This story is part of the Life Seeker newspaper