No Fit State Circus rolled into town on Monday 30th April at the end of the wettest April since records began with us praying that there would be a break in the weather that would allow them to perform Barricade. During the set up period it rained and the wind blew and it was bizarrely cold : challenging to say the least. But after twenty-five years on the road there was no hint of anything but determination from No Fit State : the show had to go on ! Because Barricade is too dangerous to perform in wet weather there was at least an alternative plan : if it did rain on the Saturday 5th, the advertised time of the show, they would perform on the Sunday and if they could go ahead on Saturday then there would a rigging master class for professionals and drop in workshops for the general public. Over the get in days the thing that was most looked at was the AP on Ali’s I-phone which forecast the weather. She claimed that she reached for it before she even woke up !
The site for the show in Hove Park was a new one for the Brighton Festival and fortunately sheltered from the worst of the elements. The dog walkers and joggers as is usual with No Fit State after being initially suspicious became gradually pulled into the process of the show being built and rehearsed until they became enthusiastic supporters of the whole project. It was the first time any show of this type had performed in the park and residents and users were fascinated and eventually seduced by the circus coming to town !
The day of the dress rehearsal dawned and guess what it was raining and blowing and freezing cold but the rain did let up sufficiently to do a run through without fireworks and a very abrupt finish to make sure the licence conditions to finish by ten pm were adhered to : it stopped at exactly one minute to !
The day of the show was, yes you guessed, raining windy and cold but Ali’s infallible AP showed the rain clearing in the afternoon and holding off for the evening and it was - infallible ! We had one of the few periods without rain during the previous four weeks. Come 8 o’clock everything was ready but there was no audience. The weather had been so terrible that we were frightened that any potential audience would be tucked up watching the TV. Also because we had never done this type of show there and Hove Park and was out of the centre of town we felt that might additionally discourage people. Come 8.30 we did have an audience, three Japanese ladies sat on a mat and under umbrellas even though it wasn’t at that moment raining. Was this going to be it : a small but select audience. But no at 8.45 they started to arrive, walking through the trees and across the park and they kept coming. Eventually just after the start of the show the estimate of numbers from our head of security was seven thousand and they loved it. As one of the satisfied customers tweeted the next day “Barricade ion Hove Park was brilliant”. They were warm and appreciative and supportive. No Fit State has built up a loyal and enthusiastic audience in Brighton and once again they were rewarded. The show finished the crowd departed and it began to rain. We had been so lucky !
The next day there were supposed to be open workshops but it was raining. Surely no one would turn up ? However No Fit State as true professionals got everything set up. Crazy ! Wrong, over a hundred did and were introduced to circus skills under the trees in the rain and wind but this did nothing to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.
The only question was when will they be back ? We hope very soon.
Text : Philip Morgan
Photo credits : Mark Robson
Pictures of the dress rehearsal and the show in the portfolio !