5 performances


When the Arts Council declined to fund the 1995 tented tour we decided to cancel it and do something else. Working with Welsh National Opera on Cinderella and Kalaf's Quest had left us the legacy of having our own community circus group- Splott State Circus. By this time, only Ali and Tom were left of the founder members. Ali wanted to create a large scale community project that would be circus led (without the Opera) and Tom had just started at Newport Caerlean Campus to study Interactive Art. They combined their interests and political leanings to propose the show Autogeddon, a poem by Heathcote Williams for August 1995 giving them 6 months lead in time to raise the money, find the venue, activate the community and artists, find a director and put together a production team. From the outset we knew it would a challenge and we roped in Tim Hudson who had become a good friend of the company after the WNO projects. He agreed to production manage the show. Ali took on the producer and community role and began fundraising and Tom and Tim worked on the technical and production aspects of the show. Tom wanted to create an environment for the performance and managed to persuade his college to allow students from his course to create art installations as part of their course work. We knew we wouldn't be able to afford seating in the warehouse so we needed to create an immersive environment for the audience and so promenade circus was born.

The first thing we did to raise awareness of the project was to invite Roy Hutchins to perform a reading of the Autogeddon poem. This was the launch of the project, a fundraiser and a good way to spread the word to local community about how they may get involved. The response from the community was immense, everyone from Splott State Circus committed to doing everything they could to support the project, we signed up other community groups Rubicon Dance, Community Music Wales, Patua Dance, The Underdogs, and many individual artists. Realising we also needed some great circus, we persuaded the flying trapeze team from circus space to come down and join us. A professional element to the performance was essential , so group from circus space worked with some the nofitstate team to became the professional core of the show.

Fundraising was on going and we'd raised around £40,000 about half of what we needed to pull off a show of this size. Ali went to back to the Arts Council who gave us £5000 but more importantly recommended Firenza Guidi as a director that would be good for a project of this scale. We met with Firenza, who had just completed a large scale community performance in Belfast and discussed our aims for the project. By June 1995 we had some money, a mass of community action with groups rehearsing specific parts of the parts of the poem, a director, we'd done a dodgy deal with a ware house owner, and it was full steam ahead. We blagged some lights with the help of Paul McGuinness, who was working at the Cardiff festival and just kept them on hire for a bit longer. ASW our sponsors gave us access to as many scrap cars as we could get our hands on and away we went. One month of planning, 2 weeks to install and build set and structures in the warehouse, two weeks of rehearsals and one week of shows (and post show parties). The end result was stunning and pushed the company's theatrical language to a new place. The world of installation art, promenade performance, using projection and video technology and combining professional and community performance was something we would definitely pursue in the future.


Hazel Bryan (11 mins)
Hazel Bryan

I heart tents..so says the Tent Master

Tim Adam Part 3 (6 mins)
Tim Adam

Talking transition times, Autogeddon, acting lessons for the founder members courtesy of Jamie Garvin because according to the Arts Council (at that time) no one could bl**dy well act!!

Sion Lewis, Andy Kenny and Della Rees, Part 1 (10 mins)
Siôn J. Lewis
Siôn Lewis

Talk about the early days, Autogeddon, and the work with the Welsh National Opera

Andy, Della, and Sion Part 2 (10 mins)

At 8.40mins lovey stuff about Reilly's bridge in Autogeddon. Also Andy's story of taking workshops up the valleys and the fire show and Della talks about set making for the Alice tour.

ALF - John Connor (13 mins)
ALF - John Connor

Early juggling club days, hairy bits and playing with his gear lever in Autogeddon and a job designing the Alice poster

Della Rees (2.17 min)
Andy Kenny talks early Balls Up days and Kalaf's Quest