1980s – 2006/8
Newcastle has a convoluted Juggling history, with people flowing in and out of it. In 1987/8 Carolyn Mendelsohn and Sian Phillips rehearsed their cabaret act at Newcastle Polytechnic as “Bizzy & Dill” and tight rope walked between 2 chairs. Alex Marshall (from Australia) took over from Carolyn, performing with Sian. Others who trained in the informal practice space in the late 1980s included: Simon Schofield who had a unicycle and Tony Rogerson, as well as fellow students Karen Bell & Michelle Weaver. People were teaching themselves, influences included street theater & juggling conventions eg. Leeds and workshops at Skylight Circus in Rotheram. This informal group developed into the Newcastle Juggling club which held workshops.
By 1990 Newcastle Juggling Club was very healthy. Others associated with the scene at this time include Carlotte Vincent (who in 2013 runs Vincent Dance Theater & who has written some about influence of circus in the NE), Chandra Nauth-Misir, Al Orange (who went onto Swamp Circus & Created Exponential which had an our door rig), Dafe Bullock, and Ross Nobel who at the age of 17 managed to get the club an old crash mat for it’s Brighton Grove space, he went on to be a famous comedian. Brighton Grove is where Michelle taught Karen trapeze. Chandra has photos of Andy Frazer playing unicycle hockey. By the early 2000’s Mike Armstrong, Ewan Crichton, Colin Hopkins & Anwen Cafell were members of the club. When Brighton Grove closed the club (c. 2006) they regrouped at the the Buddle Arts Centre and were there more or less until it closed in 2008. Here members included Nathan White & Sam Banner as well as the jugglers resident at the Buddle. The club’s hiatus was ended when Circus Central decided in 2010 that a juggling club including circus could start. Club Circus Central includes some of the old crew. There in 2013 there is also a Newcastle University Circus Skills Society.