It’s time to join the circus

05/07/13  KB''The new Broadlaw Walk centre is opened in Fareham. Enjoying the new space with Xavier Stow of Top Banana circus performers are sisters (left to right), Cortney[cor]  Peckett (six), and Kaitlyn Peckett (eight).'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (131885-3) PPP-150701-152706001

05/07/13 KB''The new Broadlaw Walk centre is opened in Fareham. Enjoying the new space with Xavier Stow of Top Banana circus performers are sisters (left to right), Cortney[cor] Peckett (six), and Kaitlyn Peckett (eight).'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131885-3) PPP-150701-152706001

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There’s no need to run away to join the circus any more - you need only go as far as Portsmouth Guildhall.

Tomorrow the Top Banana Circus is starting a series of workshops at the Guildhall for children aged eight to 13.

Circus director Melanie Stow says the workshop will give young people a chance to experience the magic of the Big Top and learn impressive new skills.

She says: ‘They really get a lot out of it, and the participants are always surprised at what they can do. Everyone can have a go and achieve something.

‘We have juggling, diablo, poi, stilts, tightwire, clowning and lots more.’

Sessions are led by circus artist Graham Shackell and a team of assistants.

Many members of the team have been with Top Banana since its beginning in 2010, and have led workshops and drop-in sessions at schools, community groups and public events including the Portsmouth Summer Fair and the Southsea Show.

Top Banana performers have also put taught youngsters circus skills in front of Aspex at Gunwharf Quays and at the outdoor Funky Town Festival last September.

Graham began his professional career in 1993, and has worked as a writer, performer, director and workshop leader throughout the UK, Europe and the Americas.

Melanie says there will be further 75-minute sessions on January 17, January 24, January 31 and February 14.

She says the block of five workshops will end with a performance, where the children will have the chance to show off their newly-learned circus skills to a wider audience.

She says: ‘At the end of each block of sessions we do a little mini-show for parents and friends.’

Melanie says a special all-ages event is planned for Top Banana’s anniversary on January 24 at the Guildhall from 1pm to 3.30pm.

‘That will be in the main auditorium,’ she says.

‘People of all ages will be able to try out a variety of circus skills including the trapeze.’

For more information and bookings, call 07944 286278 or e-mail topbananacircus@gmail.com. Alternatively, visit the Top Banana page of Facebook at facebook.com/topbananacircus.

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