Company History


NWSI Wizards of WOW 21 years old @2014

The story in brief.

In 1993 Paul Miskin was inspired by Artristras and Burbuka, two Catalonian performance ensembles. He decided to create a stilt theatre based site specific event for the last of the ten street festivals that he directed in Newcastle upon Tyne. A team was trained in samba and stilts skills, and a Bergmanesque piece of theatre, based around a giant chess set and the local military museum, was created.

Following the success of this event, the new group met regularly for extreme stilt sessions that took place across lakes and rivers, up rocky faces, in the sea, through the snow by moonlight and through the woods. Early rehearsals in the park with stilts, hand held fireworks and extreme costumes attracted some curtain twitching in nearby streets. That was how we acquired our name.

With this initial team, and others we devised our large scale shows and interventions which subsequently have toured 40 countries.

In March 2002 Maysie Sharp became a partner in the company.

NWSI is:-

  1. A Partnership of Paul Miskin and Maysie Sharp who are two artists/administrators/makers/performers.
  2. A core of around 25 performers /musicians/ inflatablists/ pyrotechnicians/ stilt-walkers/aerialists etc.
  3. A Network of performers and technicians that have worked with the company in the past and will again in the future.

Many of the performers have performed with the company for all its duration.

NWSI produce street theatre and music, make art and run workshops. Art for NWSI is `oxygen` and for everyone.

The performances cross genres and playfully promote public ownership of space, reinvention of the urban context, freedom of expression, valuing of the environment, other species and of difference. Some of our larger and fierier shows require barriers between audiences and spectator but, in general, it is our aim to remove these divisions and to concentrate on theatre `of` rather than merely `in` the street. We aim to create a hybrid theatre in which the fictional and factual can meet face to face, an ontological theatre in which the context is incorporated into the performance.

History 1993-2014

Since the first site specific performance in Exhibition Park, Newcastle in 1993, more than 500 shows have been performed in Britain and 40 other countries; throughout Europe and world-wide including China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Venezuela, the Middle East, USA, Canada and Turkey.

The British Council

NWSI are included in the British Council UK brochure `Performance in Profile` and on their website. The Company and has been booked by the British Council to represent the UK as cultural Ambassadors, performing many small to middle scale shows worldwide.

International media presence

A half hour documentary about NWSI was made and broadcast on Polish national TV Poland.

NWSI were seen by some 50 million on Globo TV whilst in Brazil and appeared on CCTV, Chinese National News, broadcasting to .8 billion people.

Large-scale street theatre

NWSI has worked at the truly large-scale. We have provided the opening or closing show for many festivals including Poznan and Gdansk, Poland; Singapore; Stockton IRF, Greenwich, Camden and Leeds, Britain; Terrason and Dunkirk, France; Kortijk, Belgium.

Multi-disciplinarity and innovation

NWSI perform a high impact unique blend of fine arts discipline, athleticism, carnival, theatre and music. Some of our activities are:-

Giant puppets the size of buildings

Abseiling on stilts (abstilting) in a giant spider costume down the side of a church tower

To celebrate Salvador Dali’s art our performances have featured the burning of temporary sculptures `fallas`; kinetic theatrical fireworks; fire drawings; and on stilts Catalan style hand held fireworks.

An abstract expressionist ballet ‘Chromarama’ that utilizes on 2 metre stilts and stretch lycra. Performances have taken place outside the National Gallery,  London, Stockton, Gateshead, Glasgow, and Cardiff; Washington, Detroit and St Louis, USA; Singapore; Vlissingen and Delft, Holland; Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Poznan, and Gdansk, Poland; Libourne, France.

NWSI have used both performers and puppets suspended over the crowds below their own light aircraft… a helium balloon.

In `Grand Magix` NWSI created an insect orchestra on stilts, performing original cross cultural fusion and classics. This unique orchestra has been to Stockton, Durham, Kirkcaldy, Inverness and Leeds; Doha; Genk, Belgium; Sibiu, Romania.

A smaller surreal new Orleans/street theatre ensemble, ‘The Mute-Antz’, has also been created and played to great success during the Durham Brass Festival.

NWSI’s band Soznak recorded an album of original multicultural fusion music (released by Harmonia Mundi). See national reviews

NWSI won first and second prize in a Northern Film & Media Music for Film Competition with the music for the film `Breather`


In the spring and early summer NWSI run free, open weekly and bi-weekly workshops in Exhibition Park in the skills relating to our performances. We record skills learned and workshop attendance. Each year some of the attendees progress to performing with NWSI and other groups. These workshops are the creative core of the NWSI. They are both hard work and enormous fun and create a whole new community/family, touring together and creating new shows.

When a large performance is imminent these workshops become rehearsals

Throughout the year NWSI run bi-weekly drumming workshops, musical workshops and rehearsals for all our musical ensembles and also for beginners who aspire to join an NWSI ensemble:-

The Ant Orkezdra, The Mute Antz,Soznak (multicultural fusion ensemble), The Drumming Ants, The Drumming Robots

These rehearsals take place in the NWSI base, Blackfriars Square and in Exhibition Park, Newcastle

With support from the Arts Council NWSI have acquired several sets pneumatic stilts and are still learning new skills.

NWSI are working towards a dramatization of Jonathan Swift`s ‘Gulliver`s Travels’

NWSI are The Wizards of WoW.