Thursday, March 3, 2011

The most artfully simple street show.

There was a woman, decades ago, with a show that was simply profound.

She wore a dickens style formal costume, trousers, waistcoat and jacket. She had a top hat but it stood beneath her. She stood on a small black box with her name in white letters on it and she herself was in whiteface.

Her act had two parts. She was unhappy. However she had an extensive collection of unhappinesses to use. She could be sad in many ways and she would direct specific sadnesses to specific audience members. Having a relationship based on that sadness with each and fostering each as she built up her symphony. She would break off an esculating disappointment with one audience member to kindle a sympathetic sadness with another, then switch to a brooding unhappiness with yet another before returning to each of her developing relationships where she had last left off.

She had a masterful catalogue of sadnesses and each was distinct and universal in it's own way.

The second part of her act happened when people approached her to put money into her hat.

She would stare at them balefully but in the moment where money was put into her hat a transformation occured.

She would smile at the donor and it was the most beautiful loving smile. Her smile was her work of art and it would radiate firstly directly into the person as they faced her then simply at them as they usually either walked away or walked back into the audience.

Her smile would last and then it would dissolve as the moment passed and context returned, and she would continue where she had left off with her individual and general sadness.

It was the most powerful, witty, profound and masterful street performance in my extensive searches through this small secialised world I inhabit.

Technically it is very hard to go from genuine sadness to joy. It is perhaps the hardest thing. The reverse is easy. I still practice sometimes. I would love to be able to master it. It would for me be like mastering life itself and so I still practice.

1 comment:

Martin Ewen said...


"Small secialised world" should read 'small specialized world'

Still cannot edit due to screen issues but getting better overall at checking each line as I go because there's no going back.