Shipwrecks with Citrus Arts and Walk the Plank

Earlier this month our Spotlight Youth Circus Troupe (a group of 14 – 19 years circus performers) were invited to take part in a three day project with the Circus Company Citrus Arts. 

“Citrus Arts are a performing arts company based in South Wales. We create shows that combine circus, dance and drama with our love for the great outdoors.”

Day One

‘Meet the Director’ workshop, where the founder, James did a short talk on his journey to where he is today, who actually started his circus skills here at Skylight Circus Arts many moons ago. Our group had the opportunity to see how to make a career out of Circus and Performance in the professional world, and other avenues such as directing. James then led a series of tasks which involving developing ensemble work, and creating puppets out of paper. 

Day Two

We were invited over to the fabulous space Walk the Plank in Salford, where Citrus Arts were rehearsing, this is when our group met the cast for Citrus Arts current production of ‘Shipwrecks’. We were welcomed with open arms by all the staff at Walk the Plank, and the Citrus Arts cast and production team. 

During this time the group took part in games with the cast, and then had the opportunity to see the cast rehearsing for their performance, this was a great opportunity for our young aspiring circus performers to see how professionals work in the circus industry, how they put together a timeline of the performance and learn from one another. One young person from the group said “I really enjoyed seeing the mind map and how they put together the show, I think it was very helpful for the cast to see that and then how you can develop and tweak it.”

James then gave the group the exciting opportunity to explore the shipwreck itself, sliding, climbing and hanging off the equipment the group really enjoyed themselves, despite the battle with the weather, they made the most out of the opportunity to play and explore. 

Day Three

We were invited to watch the final dress rehearsal of Shipwrecks. This was a very welcoming and enjoyable experience not only for the youth group but Skylight Staff too. We were all inspired so much by the incredible skill and strength of the performers, the creativity of movement, the costumes and beautiful music that helped bring together the story.


Shipwrecks is still being performed around the country, I would really recommend seeing the performance if you have the opportunity. Click here to see their performance dates.

We were all very grateful for this fantastic opportunity to work with Citrus Arts, and have learnt some very valuable skills in circus in the professional industry. We would like to thank everyone from Citrus Arts for giving us their time and knowledge and hope to see them again sometime in the future. 

Dementia – Reduce risk and improve health at Skylight Circus Rochdale

We started Silver Circus to expand our classes to over 55’s.  People come to socialise, make friends and learn circus skills.  Over the last two years, it’s been great to see big improvements in our participants’ health and wellbeing.  From coordination to balance, the levels of improvements are notable.  “When I’m using diablo, I think of nothing else.  My coordination has improved and I’m laughing a lot!” Our participants enjoy the social aspect and even bring lunch for an indoor picnic afterwards!
Here’s Greta Green story – Silver Circus Member

I started going to Silver Circus about 2 years ago. I’ve always wanted to learn to juggle as my mum used to wow us with her juggling when we were children. She could juggle 2 eggs, one handed, a skill she taught herself during her RAF days in the 2nd world war. So having seen a poster advertising the sessions, off I set.

What have I gained from attending these sessions? I have learned such a lot. Admittedly my juggling isn’t the best, but I have learned other skills. I have rediscovered my love of diablo, which I loved as a child and hadn’t even thought about for 60 or so years. I tried flowers sticks and can ‘ticktock’ quite well, at times. I still have to master starting my plate spinning with the stick, not twirling it with my hand, but I’ll get there, I’ve given myself till I’m 100 to master it all!

I have made new and good friendships with staff and other members of the ‘Silver’ group, but also with some of the younger ‘Skylighters’. I have had the pleasure of being involved in 3 productions. The Christmas 2017 production based on Scrooge, Generations (this is when I met and worked with the younger ‘Skylighters’), and Mr Kite, the production based on circus in Rochdale and involving most of the Skylight groups, thus meeting new people. I cannot stress how important it is for people in my age group (I’m 70 yrs old) to meet new people, and oh what a joy to be involved in this way. As adults we go to watch and support our own children, then our grandchildren, but what an overwhelming pleasure it is for them to come and see and support us. I never imagined that I would ever have the opportunity to be involved in this, or any, production, or in fact that I would want to. The Generation production was special as we performed at Skylight’s base, at Touchstones, Rochdale, and the at the Lowry, Salford. I jokingly told my grandchildren that Granny was on tour, they were well impressed. We also performed the juggling part of Generations at Rochdale’s Feel Good Festival 2018 and at the Royal Exchange in Manchester as part of their Elders Event 2018.

Being involved with Skylight gives a brilliant start to the week, our group is on Monday morning. I believe that it gives a good, positive start to the week. We are made so welcome by Brush, Gill, Martine, Charma, Olivia and Jim. They are always eager for us to try whatever we wish and are very positive and encouraging, and are always there to offer tips and advice. Last year I had some knee problems, ongoing really, but that’s an age thing. I went for physiotherapy and when I told my physio about the circus sessions at Skylight he was very supportive of me continuing going as he thought the exercise, the learning of new skills, the fun and friendship was so important, especially for those living alone.

I have also had the opportunity to join the staff in their outreach work. I went to sessions at Woodclough Day Centre, Middleton and Willows Dementia Hub, Rochdale. I believe that this inclusive work is so important for all. I have had the pleasure of seeing people, sometimes with limited understanding and mobility, have fun and try new skills. It is fantastic to see how ‘circus type’ activities can be adapted so that everyone can try, and importantly, succeed. Thinking of this reminds me of the look of absolute pleasure on one man’s face when he could balance a peacock feather on his rather arthritic hand. And the look of impish pleasure on another man’s face when his balancing was successful because he has pushed the end of the feather between his fingers, such fun.

I hope to be going to ‘Clown Club’, as Julie and Maureen lovingly call it, for many years yet. I cannot imagine my week without my Monday morning boost of exercise, fun and friendship. Life would not seem the same without it. Many of the group are hoping to be able to be involved in another production, whatever is decided, we will be there with enthusiasm in full force.

silver circus performing with Skylight Circus Arts in Mr Kite 2018 Rochdale
silver circus performing with Skylight Circus Arts in Mr Kite 2018 Rochdale
Silver Circus warming up to perform in Mr Kite at Skylight Circus Arts Rochdale
Silver Circus Skylight Circus Arts Rochdale
Silver Circus learning to juggle at Skylight Circus Arts Rochdale
Silver Circus member learning plate spinning at Skylight Circus Arts Rochdale
Silver Circus performing Generations at Skylight Circus Arts Rochdale
Silver Circus performing Mr Kite at Skylight Circus Arts Rochdale