Accelerator - Vee Smith & Sadiq Ali

Costume design illustration by Cleo McCabe for The Kelpie and The Phoenix
Costume design illustration by Cleo McCabe for The Kelpie and The Phoenix
It's so exciting to have been chosen by Accelerator to develop a piece of work that is really important to us. We're looking forward to having the opportunity to grow as artists and show what Scottish Circus can do.

—Vee Smith

Vee Smith and Sadiq Ali were selected as the 2023 Accelerator artists after an open call out.  They talked about their performance idea, The Kelpie and The Phoenix, at a discussion event about making queer work as part of the Children’s Festival this year. They then shared their work in progress at a sector event in late October.

Vee is a queer woman who grew up an only child in the countryside south of Edinburgh. Sadiq is a mixed-race queer man who grew up in a large Muslim household in numerous Edinburgh schemes. Both felt like outsiders growing up. When they found contemporary circus they found a world where they could be accepted and flourish. Vee could be strong and powerful, Sadiq could be delicate and beautiful; they could be whatever they wanted and they learned tools both physical and verbal to express themselves and their ideas on stage.

They graduated and made fun, queer, quirky acts and short, experimental performances for adults and late-night cabarets. they never thought that making work for younger audiences was ever something they would be able to do…. Then in 2021 they were awarded a small commission by Catherine Wheels Theatre Company to begin to explore making work for children and young people. What emerged from this period was the beginnings of an idea for a show that they are really passionate about called The Kelpie and The Phoenix.  Their idea is to create a circus show using a Chinese Pole, aerial rope and ambitious costuming to make a piece of performance that celebrates weirdness, friendship, otherness, silliness, imagination, and how amazing it feels to live your true self.

Here is a short film by Donald Dalziel from this initial development.

Costume design illustrations by Cleo McCabe for The Kelpie and The Phoenix