INTERVIEW: From Welsh Valleys to NoFitState Circus

May 1, 2018

Eric Page catches up with fellow Welshman Lyndall Merry from the fantastic NoFitState Circus who’s a world-renowned trapeze artist and also chief rigger.

Lyndall Merry
Lyndall Merry

Hi Lyndall, where has circus taken you?
“I ran away to join the circus, to escape from  university and the confines of rural Wales, school was full of farmers and rugby players and I craved adventure, thrill and the possibility of flying.  After touring some incredibly beautiful places, I am now set on returning home to Wales. Wherever I go I am always saddened to see the effect of humanity. To see so much greed, waste and pollution.”

Being gay in a circus, is there a link between sexuality and creative expression? “Being gay in contemporary circus is fully accepted and totally mellow. There are different types of queer in life, sexual preference, personal identity, mental state, physical ability. What counts is the individual’s capacity to share, in and out of the big top. It is about working and living together and being generous as a performer.

“There is a link between personal identity and creative expression, which for many people does involve sexual identity. Specifically to do with an individual who has explored their own identity and experienced the freedom of expression, leading to the realisation that a career in creative expression is possible.”

Is No Fit State your home?
“It’s one of my homes, and when on tour home is wherever we are. I have had many homes with different circuses. The circus always creates a safe haven – I lived in east London had gun and knife crime on one side of the gates and open doors and kids running free on the other. My real home is still the Welsh hills and this is where I retreat to.”

Who inspired you?
“As a child I watched the outdoor circus shows at Glastonbury festival. Tout fou to fly, Archaos and Turbo zone had impact on me. Many artists and teachers have continued to inspire me to train hard there are many generous people in the circus who share their experiences to better the art form.”

Is there something you’d love to stage which is still waiting for the tech to catch up?
“Anything is possible with time and money, there are ideas we have left behind because they weren’t finessed enough for a slick and punchy show.  Rather than the tech catching up with our ideas it would be more us catching up with the tech. We have only just started on rigging practices that have been used in film for and sailing for 20 years. Working with projections also we need to explore the potential this technology can deliver.” 

Any words of encouragement for younger LGBT+ people?
“My absolute goal is to inspire people, to see what is possible through sacrifice and commitment.  To become a circus performer start training as much as you can as soon as you can. Keep the horizons broad and look as far away as necessary for the best people to help you achieve your goals and channel a know everything there is to know attitude.

“Nothing is black and white, everybody has a different life experience and some people struggle harder than others. Try not to be confined by the journey and discovery of identity. Be compassionate and kind to others and learn how to exist and share the world with people of all spectrums, and above all think carefully about the planet, we only have one.” 

Where’s your favourite gay bar?
My best is the NYC Downlow, which travels between UK festivals, open and obscene, excellent music and good people. The other is Tubesteak at Aunt Charlie’s, San Francisco, tiny, old school, narrow gay bar, brilliant genuine characters, great music and welcome atmosphere.

See Lydall fly along with the rest of NoFitState Circus performers in the World Premier of Lexicon on Hove Lawns from May 3-14.

To book tickets online, click here: