In 2012 my husband and I moved from Cardiff to Pontypridd in the Rhondda Valley when we bought our first home together. If working on laptops from the kitchen table counts, our circus dance theatre company Citrus Arts, naturally came with us. Where we live didn’t seem so important as much of our work was happening away from home, yet, it was having an impact on us. When we looked out of the windows of our affordable terraced home and gazed upon a valley of cascading pines, bracken and silver birch we felt more connected to the environment.
Six years on, our professional work has grown beyond just the theatre into leading teams on large-scale projects or creating celebratory one-off spectacles for festivals and events. Our love for the outdoors is coming through in our work, not only where we are performing it, but through the design and themes that run through our productions as well. Work that is about nature engulfing ruined buildings or the force of the sea on a man-made vessel, we cannot help but be inspired.
When we are designing and writing our productions we are hoping to create experiences that are memorable and moving for our audiences. In order to create the right environment that has a sense of special occasion, there are certain practices that have influenced us. The use of smoke and fire effects, battery-powered lighting, sculptural design made from found and natural materials all contribute well. Gathering together to share music, performance, fire and food is part of our DNA and helps to bring communities together.
We now have two young boys and so I find myself wanting to work closer to home and make unique and interesting things happen on my doorstep. I have skills that I want to share, and a network of capable, hands on creatives to bring in. Feeling part of my community and contributing positively to it has become very important to me and I want to see families like mine taking part in outdoor creative adventures. This sowed the first seed (or pip) for our Citrus Pips community initiative.
Through Citrus Pips we offer training and workshops where we share how to make celebratory performances in the landscape that bring people together. We promote quality time to re-connect with each other and our beautiful natural surroundings, learning new skills and getting stuck in, whatever the weather. Keeping our children active, creative and inspired away from screens and modern stresses and offering creative outlets for parents too. By offering a range of learning from performance, design and practical technical skills like lighting, rigging and event management, we hope to enable people to make their own community celebrations.
We started exploring this project in 2017, and with the support of Caerphilly Arts Development, Big Lottery, Awards for All and Coalfields Regeneration Trust we have been able grow. We now offer a regular training programme for children, young people and adults in Pontypridd and outdoor workshop event days where the whole family can take part together. Come and join us!
Citrus Arts is a not-for-profit circus company based in Pontypridd. Founded in 2009 by James and Bridie Doyle-Roberts, they create original productions that blend the physical skills of circus and dance with a strong visual aesthetic, poetic imagery and theatricality.
If you would like to get involved contact us, we would love to hear from you. You can find more information on our website at
citrusarts.co.uk/citruspips or follow us on social media: