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Claire Crook

Claire Crook

Claire Crook, AKA Madam Mango

Age (you may if you wish give a humorous answer here!):
44 there is nothing funny about being 44!

Favourite discipline:
Rope, obviously!

Years active at Greentop:

In what capacity I was involved with Greentop:
Over the years I have been someone who practices their circus skills at Greentop, a workshop participant, volunteer, aerial teacher, CIP course lead aerial tutor, rigger and performer.

Where I am/what I am doing now:
I have just moved to the North East of Scotland from Sheffield. I am teaching aerial and handstands currently in Dyke for Moray Flying Circus and Aberdeen for Inverted Circus, continuing to train aerial and handstands, perform (pandemic aside), train and make shows as well as work as a freelance rigger.

Favourite joke:
A rope walks into a bar. The bartender points at him and says, “Hey! We don’t serve your kind around here. Get out!” The rope calmly exits the building, twists himself up, parts his hair, and goes back inside a few minutes later. The bartender sees him again and asks angrily, “Aren’t you that rope I just kicked out?” “No sir,” the rope responds, “I’m a frayed knot.”

Please summarise the impact Greentop has had on your life:
Greentop will always occupy a fond place in my heart, I have spent so many hours there doing so many different things over the years, it has provided me with so much. A place to train, to learn, to explore, to rehearse, to create, to teach, to perform, and so much more than that. A place to be a circus performer in a community of others with common cause, it really is a very special place.

My circus story:
I first arrived as a fledgling circus performer in the early 2000’s, Greentop wasn’t why I came to Sheffield but it was one of the reasons I stayed, especially at that time, finding somewhere that you could train your circus skills was difficult and Greentop was a great facility. It was also very friendly and welcoming, with people genuinely interested in meeting you. Initially I just trained at Greentop, over time I progressed to do so many different things there, becoming the head rigger, teaching classes as well as on the Circus In Performance course. When the agency was set up, Greentop also provided me with many performance opportunities, from local community events to really posh corporate events, and has provided me with an income for many years. There have been many gigs, but I think one of the highlights was performing for 1000 completely over‐excited Brownies. Teaching on the Circus In Performance course was also something I enjoyed immensely and provided me with the opportunity to watch students progress and help them along that journey.

I’m really proud of some of the work that I have done for Greentop, and although it’s not the most glamorous of jobs, being the head rigger (twice!) has been one that I am really proud of, between us we have worked really hard to get all the equipment into a coherent inspection regime and ensure the safety of all aerialists in the centre.  It has taken a lot of work and I’m really happy to hand over the baton to the rest of the team (we are an all-female team, and call ourselves The Splice Girls) with things in such a good state, I dread to think how many hours I have spent up in that roof!

I’ve met so many big characters under Greentop’s spire over the years, so many unusual and talented people, it has sometimes felt like a refuge for waifs and strays and it certainly has been for me – the thing we all have in common is a love of circus. I have also made a whole heap of firm friends, and as always in circus we have gone through a lot together; we have held each other up, caught and dropped each other, shared bruises, rope burns and laughs, I’ve formed some great work partnerships and had so many first experiences. It would be disingenuous of me to not mention the bad patch that Greentop went through, however some positive things have come out of that too, it spurred some of us on to get our own building to use for circus training and rehearsals, and it also made me massively appreciate how much Greentop meant to me. I’m happy to see that Greentop is back in safe hands, being forward thinking and a shining light of the UK circus scene, long may that be the case!