toby philpott last updated: 22 January, 2007
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solo performer, fringe theatre actor and new circus worker
I made a living throughout the 70ís by juggling, magic, fire eating, acrobatics, unicycling and clowning in all types of venues from schools to small theatres to medieval banquets; street markets to children's television. I started out by playing in California, learned to work the streets in Mexico. Later I moved around Europe (from my base in London - a shed at the bottom of a garden where a couple of very generous and patient people lived. They were working on a movie at the time - OZ. Hi Chris! (Sadly I would guess from the dedication on the new DVD release that Lyne has gone).
I was a street performer before it became recognised as a legitimate art (and properly rewarded!) I was also opening up venues - for instance, I was doing shows in Covent Garden when it was still a fruit market. All my props were handmade, all my tricks self invented - or reconstructed from vague memories of live performances (no video replay). It was still a novelty for people to see juggling outside of circus and nightclubs. I was a nonchalant but desperate youth who wanted to travel, never work for anyone else, and do something he enjoyed. An outlaw, but not a criminal...
I also ran a lot of workshops from which a whole generation of jugglers and fools emerged, and supplemented my solo work by performing with various Fringe Theatre groups: Stomu Yamash'ta's Red Buddha Theatre; the wonderfully anarchic Incubus (including Paddy Fletcher (is he with Footsbarn, or a Desperate Man?) and Ric LeParmentier, (now another famous Star Wars person); whimsical Abrakadabra (with the Hannah family - Txi Whizz later went off to work with the Hog Farm, and Wavy Gravy); The Raree Show (with the Trigger family - especially the fabulous and most amazing Crissie Trigger); Cap & Bells Puppets (with my dad's wife Violet); Small World Theatre (with Franki Anderson); Foolproof (with Justin Case). I did some street stuff, and some firework displays with Free Form Arts Trust; I even tried my hand at stage management and techie stuff for Justin and, (for instance) the magical Caroline Noh at the Melkweg in Amsterdam.
After a long side-track into film work, followed by a 'lost weekend' that lasted a few years, I spent several summers as performer, stage manager, front of house and crew with NoFit State Circus, touring the UK in the Nineties. From them I also got odd gigs, like 'being a UFO contactee!'
I also got to hang out with Tony Allen for a while - an astounding stand-up performer. Check out his book Attitude for just a taste of his thoughts and style - or try to catch him live. Why not do a stand up comedy workshop? Look for current news on the New Agenda Trust website. I also recommend his Speakers Corner Journal - now published as A Summer in the Park, from Freedom Press, with an intro by Ken Campbell. (highly recommended...what can I say...)
I only know one bit of existing footage of me throwing things around and it wasn't my act. I am the background juggler in the film "The Tall Guy".
Soundtrack sampled from that great film "Performance", with apologies to Sir Michael Jagger and James Fox