Philipe Petit, famous as the man who walked on a wire between the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Centre (1974) visited Newcastle & Gateshead to plan a tight wire walk across the River Tyne from Newcastle Quayside to the Sage to mark it’s opening. He said “To me this is theatre in the sky.” The walk was to be accompanied by Sting and the Northern Sinfonia. Event manager and Philipe’s chosen local ally, Alan Hillary recalls that Petite’s fee was very expensive (enough for someone to retire on), and the council decided against the expense. The project had been in planning between 2001 – 5 with Petit visiting frequently over the period of a year. He is also practiced in the Great Hall at Discovery Museum.
Instead the circus which was performed at the opening of the Sage was by Fidget Feet’s aerialists on pale blue silks. Other small circuses have performed acts for corporate and public events since it’s opening. In 2012 a free-runner did a handstand on top of the building. This was reminiscent of the photo of the worker who was sacked for doing a handstand on top of Tyne Bridge in the 1980s.