This is going to be one post, expanded over the period in which I go through my soon to be tossed pads before Flying to NZ.
It will be by design disjointed.
I have decided to reasearch and analyse data between the spectator, (everyone passing by) and a street performer...Why people stop. what makes them stop. Why do they pay or not pay. and what it does to them.
Unless you interview a statistically significant number of actual audience your research and analysis will rely on collated anicdotal evidence.
Statistical analysis has been employed in theatres but not street.
Japan had a theatre where each chair is wired to collect heart rate to measure attention, electromygraphic response (EMG) to measure cognitive processing and emotional reactions and skin conductive response (SCR) to measure arousal
Programmable perception analysers that collect and graph audiences moment to moment responses.
Some Unis have versions of these setups for use in 'Communications studies'
Poems written at 14
The fabric of life
the loom of ritual
the rewards of startled harmony
the fabric of life
casts off rule.
Time flows on
sometimes passing burnt bridges
In my canoe, non flameable but leaking
I paddle on, scanning the horizon for
islands, obstacles and still water..
Pick up line
"Excuse me I couldn't help noticing you exhibiting signs of vapid boredom with this social setting, I'm guessing your tedium stems from the fact that you have been bred as an object and can't spot a buyer in your price range possibly coupled with the fact that your cavernously empty mind is sort of scary when theres no-one to distract you from it. Perhaps we could cooperate and I'll do and say things that will at least be vaguely distracting while I pursue my own agenda which is a hardwired
disposition to increase the species, you have to admit that even being in public and appearing available sort of brands you as a bit desperate but the good news is I am too and thats the sort of basis that all the best relationships are based, did you know antoney and cleopatra met at a bar? Could you buy me a drink? Do you own a car or house or anything? Do you have any younger sisters?"
I was a roady in a small van driving down the Kiakoura coast in the middle of the night and the sadistic driver would not stop talking and we had not slept in days and we had begged and pleaded for him to shut up and he had just laughed and kept on talking shit and then we had all started punching him quite hard about the back of the head and it only encouraged him. Even after we'd drawn blood he'd just kept on prattling (remind you of anyone?) and then the guitarist had the first epileptic fit of his life and we had to pull over and drag him onto the road and watch him thrash.
The guitarist eventually cleaned up and is now a Yoga teacher with his own studio in Cuba mall overlooking one of the main pitches in Wellington.
We were 12, Stalker stilt theatre, antigravity theatre and a band called 'not really anything' (parts of whom went on to be the "headless chickens')
Rex Visible was our driver, Rob Maclaren who some might know was there also. David Clarkson was the leader of Stalker. We had travelled down the east coast of the north island, then east coast of the south island and were now making our way up the west coast of the south island. We'd been on the road over a month. Our prepublicity woman was always about a week ahead of us, arranging radio interviews, poster runs, confirming venues etc, She'd then leave a report somewhere outlining what she'd arranged and what we had to do re appointments with press etc. She was very organised and we we less so so she was always a little pissed at us but she also took that as part of her job. the alphas in our group (this is before I graduated) used to resent her and complain bitterly but they were intimidated by her also.
She had been my girlfriend a couple of years and had calmly ended our relationship just before the tour. So she would get me on the phone and complain about the specific inconsistancies in the crew and I would have to digest these talks so i could diplomatically relate them to our group in a way that was effective, and the crew would grumble and grumble about her criticisms and what they percieved to be her faults and i would have to translate those. I did all this because it was the only form of communication left to me between myself and someone i still loved desperately.
So I'm sitting in the open doorwell and the bus is tootling up the west coast and there are 2/300 foot cliffs a muscle spasm away. I sat there for some time toying with a fatal twitch but what saved me was my youth and my curiosity as to how much worse my life could get.
Thalidmide, how armless are these kids?
I have information that a terrorist cell of fully grown Thalidmide babies (now in their 30s)have begun to target and maim people who use their own arms exccesively.
They have a particular hatred of jugglers.
If you see someone missing limbs watching your show I would advise keeping your upper body movements to a minimum until they have gone.
Does anyone else have any hints on dealing with bitter, deformed dangerious medical tragedies?
I'm not a nice person, heavily disguised nazi war criminals are embarrassed in my company, cockroaches think I lower the tone and dandruff has more friends than I do.
America's a lovely place with a huge variety of personalities, the
ability to reinvent yourself is an unalianable right and its nieve
adolescent mindset can stretch from the cradle to the grave.
Part of the performance variety industry is dedicated to the
preservation of all that is fleetingly interesting and comfortably
familiar. Entertainment can be a form of prosac, 'art lite'
Whereas "art" examines the human condition, variety entertainment is proactively distracting.
Boy theres a huge market for distraction here and I've only ever briefly
skimmed the surface because to fully immerse yourself requires a
titanium ego uneffected by surroundings of such middle class depravity
with cynical 8 year olds and buildings that are actually party
factories with dual rooms hosting events weekend in and weekend out, and
the overweight smokers feigning drunken wit outside sucking on their
cigs while inside and the utter utter utter lack of innovation that to
survive this longterm would require a heart of darkness (or produce one)
that I myself only manufacture for entertainment purposes.
You have to remind yourself that at heart these things are about
community celebrating itself and that that plus the fee are good things.
First up an Italian Party where I was replacing a performer who had
begged off sick (because he had found a better paying gig for the
I rang and let them know that I and not he, would be attending. "stilts
ok...what else do you do? do you do fire juggling? Do you do any magic?
Can you do any mime without stilts?"
"um no..I sort of specialise, I just do stilts and mime and I have a character piece."
"Well the other guy did a bit of this and a bit of that and had a few
things he would do. Are you sure you don't have any other SCHITCK?
(Could someone please tell me exactly what schitck is and where it lives so that I can hunt it down and kill it.)
"Well I'm not sure your going to be any use to us but there no time to
find a proper replacement and we've already sent the fee away so you
might as well turn up."
"Thank you, I really really really really really really really really
really really appreciate it." (I wondered if he caught the sarcasm)
I turn up , get glared at and told to "go down the stairs and first door on the left and tell them you're the replacement"
I go down put my stuff on, go back upstairs and mingle a bit and dance a
bit, get given an Italian Flag and take part in a strange 'Parade of
nations' then the national anthem is played. Everything changes, I'm OK
now because..well...actually I'm doing a great job. I'm strange but a
fantastic dancer and you can watch me without me needing you to and
really I'm quite funny in my own way.
So thats done and I'm congradulated and given pasta and coke and drive
off thinking, 'Well you know that really wasn't that bad, another 100 of
these and i could buy a mini.'
The next day, at the Manhatten childrens museum there was a party for Dr
Seuss's 100 year birthday (I suspect he'd dead, I told nobody)
There were a handful of us employed to interact with the kids and teach
them things like juggling and stilts and I don't know..How to survive
their parents smothering expectations. I had 2 pair of childrens stilts
and Lurk (me) didn't have his own stilts on. I never usually do this
after a pathetic spanish nightclub experience, so lurk (me) was on edge
and ready to snap at the slightest provacation.
I thought I'd hide behing juggling for the 3 hours (Justifying it to
myself thus, At least its not my whole career and the fee martin the
But the massive box of juggling balls were made of foam and had the
tendancy to bounce straight out of your hand, no-one could use them let
alone teach anyone them, other performers were lobbing them at kids who
would attempt to catch them and fail and they're parents (who had paid
$70 a kid or $200 per family) would blanch in horror at their offsprings
pronounced deteriation of hand eye co-ordination and would rush them
away to a private clinic for a cat-scan.
My dictum has always been (and I'm so very grateful to Gustav Mensies for teaching me this)
Whether a performer or not, your first responsibility is to keep yourself entertained.
So what I did is I started jamming these spongy foam juggling balls into
my front pockets one at a time, I could jam 77 balls into my front
This would take a while and then when it was done I would take them out
one at a time and throw them back into the box until my pockets were
empty then I'd start again.
I did this for 3 hours, I took no breaks and I was always singlemindly either stuffing or unstuffing my pockets.
I will spend the money wisely.
A wounded worldweary clown with an astute gift , an articulate inner curiousity, who makes observations and tells stories [better words for 'to be useful']