Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Chinese and I do a Little Dance

 This was great, I have the stiltcam to edit in when I get schooled in editing.

Circus helps after Tornado

Not big on Animals in Circus. [an elephant tried to kill me once-I think it was bored]

But this is kinda a feel good video sorta.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Five ball juggling, Plug and go.

more chinese love

All together now! [Chinese mix] #1 all you need is..


C h a p t e r S e v e n t e e n

Queenstown NZ

Queenstown is nestled at the foot of a range of mountains named “The Remarkables” for good reason, towering over Lake Tekapo in the South Island of NZ. Anyone who believes that faith can move mountains should come here and pray, then perhaps lower their expectations a tad.

It's where bungee jumping was invented and young and old and the occaisional twitching parkensons patient can safely jump or get thrown from a bridge tethered to a rubber band.It also hosts the famous shot-over marine jet experience where high powered jetboats tear up the Clutha inches from the rock walls that define the gorge. Additionally tourists tethered to experienced para-gliders go wafting off cliffs to soar over the town squealing. There's a summer luge run down brushed concrete tubes within the town’s borders, and come winter the nearby ski fields kick off. It's an outdoors-person’s dream, and if you like nights spent by the fire there's no better backdrop.

The local population seems at all times to be outnumbered by tourists. Every day looks like the day after Christmas, the visitors proudly wearing Kiwi clothing freshly unwrapped.

A hundred or so years back, gold was found in these parts. Now it's just flushed through the place via busloads of tourists and a large, churning backpacker population. It's interesting to visit certain cafes of an evening to witness the calm, almost post-coital vibe created by those whose bodies have faced what must have felt like certain death, jumping off some hundred-foot bridge with a rubber band attached or some cliff with an instructor attached or gone whizzing at excessive speed inches from sheer walls of rock in a jet boat.
Nick Nickolas, a Covent-Garden-forged, rollicking street magician friend and I had cavorted our way down-country from Auckland at its other end. He drove, I kept tally of the improvised commemorative crosses denoting road fatalities. He was going to get certified as a cliff jumping parachutist and I, as always, was simply at a loose end.

The structure of my life was contained within my clown’s performance and nowhere else, and I tended to be a free associating blunderbuss that my performance friends adopted for interesting company and perhaps, in their own twisted and generous and thus far heterosexual way, because they loved me. I certainly loved them, , in much the same way a leper, diseased and self serving, might get a platonic crush on a nun. My performance friends also tended to be fantastic people to drink heavily with. Leashless, the lot of them.

Both Nick and I had a couple of weeks to kill before that chestnut of a gig, The Christchurch International Buskers’ festival. We were both regulars there, had been since its inception.

The Queenstown pitch was a small pedestrian mall, full of upmarket tourist shops catering to predominantly Asian tourists buying wool-related products. The flow was pitiful—the place would be empty and then one or two people would pass down, and it was odds against whether they'd make it twenty feet before being drawn into a shop. It was a challenge, the longest slow-build test, in which you might work for thirty minutes to gather and keep a minimum of ten people for an audience. The slow build is one of my talents—I can exist in character without attention. My clown justifies its existence easier than I do, pointless boredom being more comfortable with makeup and stilts. Still I struggled, managing one or two shows an evening, earning just enough for the required liquids, beer and petrol. Marking time.

Tourists are displaced by nature. I suppose I should identify with them but I don't. My ideal is to perform in places where my gift transforms ordinary places in people’s everyday lives into something briefly uplifting, and the production of unexpected laughter in public places has been my chosen vocation.

To illustrate:

The most profound compliment I ever received was a shy man who sought me out after my show in a large city and meekly admitted that he had not left his house for some time but had forced himself to re-enter the world that particular day. He thought it important enough to admit to me that I had made him laugh, and what's more, he was driven to seek me out and thank me for showing him he still could. Moments later hidden down an alley, I wept—I actually sobbed with the joy of mattering.

Tourists are already divorced from the everyday. To them, I'm simply ‘entertainment’, competing with all the other experiences that are strands of a quilt their disposable incomes invest in to briefly disguise their lives’ modulated captivity. Still, in Queenstown I did what I could in the county of my birth to defiantly add my tiny thread to their patterns, and in turn I forsook gratitude for amusement and got paid whatever my shallow distraction was worth.

Much like Queenstown itself this story could be a pointless, aimless distraction. Although, some crisp morning as you sit alone by the lake, gazing up to the towering mountains surrounding you with the shale that flows from them as the mountains themselves melt, on a timescale that renders our species as predominant and relevant as lint, the enormity that surrounds can make the seemingly unremitting cacophonous culturally and personally exformative static of your own bipedal computer, as it tries to grasp meaning within and beyond itself, briefly cease.

Insignificance can in its own way be liberating, and I believe within laughter lies this shared, celebrated truth. Dignity dashed, unforeseen circumstantial twists, sudden departures from routine. These are all clues.

That I can share this thought is, if anything I suppose, my point.

We are not here long.

nun front book cover

Panto Damascus, One Clowns Alphabet

I'm about to publish after formatting for kindle either this week or next. No huge expectations but pride in a project completed through trying times. In my own mind I've never had something that couldn't be taken away from me before but my mind was diseased that way. I'm getting better.
This is a high res tif and I'm keeping a copy here for insurance purposes. Feel free to download it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wearable Arts NZ

Sam Hunt NZ Poet

So there was this rough as guts bloke who travelled around NZ as i was growing up, Sam Hunt. He's go into working mens clubs and pubs and read his poetry. The NZ working class didn't know good poetry from bad but admired anyone with the balls to step up and relate their impressions of this human condition malarky while we sunk more than a few after a hard days yakka.

He'd wander round the country, inventing himself as artists do. The thing was sometimes he would recite a poem and it held so much of what you recognised that it sucked you in and you'd start to be transported and then the sneaky bugger would take you somewhere new before depositing you back where you'd started at the bar. He wasn't the only poet but he was the first I ever saw that wasn't in a book.

I once had this thing with someones hand on my brow. I'd be transported. It was so simple and powerful.

Poetry is as close to that.... I'll take it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A comedian/poet of whom you may not have heard,

This mornings bilious correspondence.

I detest corporate middle management peons with a deep molten fury. They are the type of servile clinging leeches who's lives, revolving around banal politics, blind them to the transparent almost radiant fact of their utter superfluousness. They are essentially binary switches with delusions of grandeur convinced that being given decisions to make, preordained by constrictions and dictates allocated from above, actually justify their inflated wages and ghoulishly hollow lives. They remind me of some falsely beaming, neatly turned out 10 year old teachers pet in the making holding a door open with all their obsequious worth, unaware the door is automatic, before smugly returning to sit and giving the class that look that conveys their own sense of gargantuan self worth and superiority.

I dearly wish I could convey to whatever dickwad is involved in this inconsequential piece of fluff that concerns me personally that their inability to be decisive within a timeframe given does not in fact bode well for them within the brittle confines of what they tragically define as their career. The very fact that they lean towards intoxication with the minuscule authority they have been given to the degree that they paralyze themselves and render themselves inert and dysfunctional is as obvious to those who are monitoring them as it is to those beneath them and in fact the only singular person not jaundiced by their pointlessness are themselves.

As far as I'm concerned they have until the end of business today to fulfill their function after which time association with their odious insipid gratuitous seepage in this process makes the process itself for me unbearable. I simply lack the sympathy required.

[in related news I secured the job and feel much better now, I did make the recipient, who was not the subject of my diatribe "Uncomfortable" and I apologised and I suppose the real comedy is that this is all about my employ as a disgruntled pantomime at a major multinationals celebration of itself to be held shortly ]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Undeniably Comic

This copy is really low quality, many copies of it have been purged by presumably Leno's network. But it's a classic, enjoy.

XIHU Revised.

Xihu , or West Lake is a district in Hangzhou, China, . It has an area of 263 square kilometers, and a population of 520,000. The postal code is 310013. A palindrome. Please, please just shoot me.

It was my third trip to China, and China's third International Clown Festival. Out of a cast of 60 each time, there were only seven of us who had done each one. Prior to arriving this had made me feel special; however, arriving at the Shanghai airport alone with no-one there to meet me quickly put paid to any idea that I was anything other than a convenient clown-cog.

This was unhelpful because the Chinese don't like strays in their airports. Less than harmonious was I. Two days before setting off, my marriage had been canceled and I was still and would continue for a year or so to be, in befuddled, self-pitiful shock. Potentially helpful Chinese officials would approach but I had nothing for them. I was a Teflon basket case. Not a single point of purchase could they gain. No phone number, no name, (well ok, a Mr. Wang, go search China immediately) no name of destination, just my passport and case and stilts. Confucius says, someone else's problem.
So I simmered gently, my marinate of woebegonanity becoming richer and more viscous by the moment.
Some hours later I was remembered and the director himself came to meet me. Then followed a four-hour drive to Xihu.

Population, Human,
Numbers, numerous,
Collective telepathic anarchy as road transport system, impeccable.

It's a form of ballet, the way this many people use the roads. It's not black and white; you can drive down the wrong side of the road if doing so increases the greater harmony. Confucius says...um.

“Harmony” is an ideal writ large in Chinese culture.
However, Chinese people do not hesitate in yelling at each other. It's not a transgression to berate someone with any measure of scorn and aggression . It was comforting to see, out the window as we drove, examples of Chinese people yelling at each other. Discordance isfamiliar and cozy. [Adjusts Beret, It is my chosen millieu ] Between cities I saw misty peaks, terraced rice paddies, ox-driven carts, plows and nuclear power stations.

The Hotel we checked into sat across the road from the local prison and mainly housed visiting relatives. It seemed that hotels of any higher status were not interested in the hassle that a large group of international clowns presented. I can sincerely sympathise.

Which was interesting, because at the first of these Chinese festivals, in Liuzhou, we had received an amazing reception. A palatial hotel, two receptions with the mayor, before and after. Hundreds of enthusiastic young volunteers whose devotion to our well-being was as enthusiastically genuine as it was disconcerting.

That event kicked off with a parade downtown, at which (we later learnt) over a half million people attended. It was probably the largest parade dedicated to Clowns in the history of Clown. It was awesome. I had focused on the Chinese elderly in the crowd because personally, I enjoyed giving them a short burst of directed attention just to watch the years drop off their formerly weathered, stoic expressions as childish delight stole across their faces and radiated out. Call me selfish.

Also at our inaugural festival a World Heritage-quality venue was provided, with stages built over a lake. The largest theater in the city was lent to put on a special night-time performance, followed the next day by a performance of breathtaking quality by the province’s main cultural theater company.

We were given an after-hours trip to a museum of found rocks collected over 2000 years. A set of Clown postage stamps was printed in our honor and issued throughout China to herald our arrival, and certificates in both Chinese and English were given us that certified us as cultural envoys for the city. We were each given gifts. A book of photos of the area and a CD with a presentation on the city. Liuzhou is undoubtedly and will always be my Chinese hometown.

Three years later we were in a hotel housing prisoners’ relatives, with rooms that overlooked the exercise yards and turrets manned by armed guards. I was used to social elasticity—it's a perk of the trade—and yet the speed at which China had demoted us was impressive.

Oh well, at least we had each other.

I checked in, went up to my room to find out upon whom I'd be inflicting myself, and sure enough, the powers that be had in their wisdom paired me with Peter Panic. A full blown eccentric with a purist-street-theater heart whom I had known many years, and whose flaws were disguised by a tapestry of sharp wit, reckless creative impulses, a superb gift for storytelling and, for the general public, a skills-drenched juggling show. He's a wonderful friend. His boredom threshold is so high he's devoted his entire life and his impressive, wry stamina to providing himself entertainment, which for this festival meant leaving the hotel every evening wearing a Mexican wrestling mask, a cape, a cap pistol and a padded groin and push-biking out into the Chinese dusk, occasionally shooting at policemen directing traffic as he passed, until he was miles away and could feel, for the first time, fear.

Which was his signal to start the second stage of his nightly adventure. Somehow finding his way back to the hotel to join us all, with a new story to tell over drinks.

He and I shared rooms often; various administrations had nowhere better to put us than together. We are cheerfully incorrigible and that can be distracting to many. I had put (cooked) chicken-heads in his bed, the last festival we shared. He had, suppressing his gag reflex, jammed all the oily heads into his mouth—to his mind, the simplest way to display feigned indifference as I pulled a camera from under my bedclothes. Another milestone of our relationship recorded.

I unpacked and dutifully walked the quarter-mile to a pre-selected restaurant where clown stragglers were just finishing up with dinner. I smiled and greeted those few and ate. I was a couple of hours behind the social dynamic crest and my cohorts were long gone on their first night’s adventures.

I ate and reconnected with Mia, a Chinese/American resident in the States, a professional cat-herder, trouble-shooter, maelstrom-surfer, calamity-wrangler and stress-devouring circumstantial Jujitsuist with the outward appearance of a master poker player or Buddhist monk. She is a seriously powerful harmony generator and her receptors are tuned like a shark to perceive the faintest wisps of her diet, the disquiet of others, over astounding distances. I was to her, I suppose, as an abattoir washed into the sea. She absorbed my self-centered monologue while I absorbed the minimum of Chinese smorgasbord. She listened. I needed that.

Shortly afterwards I went back to my room, still Panic-less, and found respite in deserved and well-earned unconsciousness.

Morning came, no day off for anyone, straight to business. Peter informed me of three set times for shuttles to the venue and which floor had breakfast. Still jet-lagged, I headed for a dining room to ingest the company of fools, which has always been rarer and more nutritious than any simulation of a Western breakfast some well-meaning but unqualified prison hotel could manage.

I've learnt better since, but was still at the stage where food itself was an abstraction. Dangerous in my physical theater business, but I'd survived twenty odd years on my abused body's reserves and in my then internally-dank condition the idea of doing myself any favors was a theory that lay beyond my horizon. That said, the ‘coffee’ provided at the hotel was an insult to all brown liquids that had ever existed.
With a cup of industrial slurry (once sipped never again ventured) , the seed from which that day’s self-hatred blossomed, I walked into my vocational element, a roomful of Clowns. Old friends and new, .

We were the mother-load of international career journeymen Clowns, a group 60-strong collected from America, New Zealand, Canada, Holland, France, Spain, Japan, Israel, Argentina, Belgium, Russia and Mexico. I had met many of them before, either on a prior Chinese gig or simply wherever it is in the world Clowns congregate. I'd done Circus rarely, mostly working as an international street theater Clown, but I’d done my share of corporate and private mercenary clown gigs around the world and so had bumped into both the North Americans and the Europeans. I had been and continue to be a free agent, lending my absurdity to whoever required it. On reflection—and with all due humility—I suppose I'm one of the few trudging street-based globalists of my generation.

The Ringlings (Ringling Clown College-trained) were a clique; the New York clowns were interwoven with them. The Europeans were a cabal . Also mingling were the heavy-drinking brigade, combative chemical masochists from both sides of the Atlantic who met over vast quantities of liquor to spill and spin tall tales that, in a Clown’s world, tend to be based more on actual events than imagination. One thing we do well amongst ourselves is tell good stories; we have high standards for legitimate hilarity but a lifetime of surreal potential to collect our shared stories of note..

Six clowns had secured the dubious but financially secure tenure of being ‘Ronalds’ back in the US. They are sworn and contracted to secrecy; you only ever find out via some other clown’s loose lips. One ex-Ringling clown was also a police officer back stateside. Ages ranged from late twenties to approaching sixty. All they had in common was barely perceivable voids in their narratives. Such is the fate of a Ronald.

Some had come into this clown dimension late, some were born into it. Training ranged from self-taught to Russian circus school. There were also a smattering of professional international eccentrics, a master face and body-painter or two, and additionally, from Scotland, Holland, France and Japan, the world’s best balloon artists and their lithesome models, who were to put on a surreal fashion show.

What a relief for me to be here.

I was a realist. My opinion was that China, much like Japan in the late 80's-early 90's, had created enough internal wealth that a means was sought to educate populations and create a generator of wealth flowing back up to the proprietors of society. [Governments being little more than revenue generating media mechanisms run by a select few.] A standard, by-the-numbers, template middle class was instigated.

A middle class is defined essentially by disposable income and a means of being seduced by non-essentials packaged as freedom of choice and sold for profit back to the stratum that invented them.
Clowns (in my experience in Asia anyway) can be used as the shock troops of this campaign, along with more general commercial concepts like Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Christmas.
Events are manufactured in which pan-cultural experiences are sold at a profit to that portion of the public newly seduced by the reality of having more money than they need to feed their families.
Hence products and experiences that we in the West are born with access to (and so rarely examine) are provided, and a newborn middle class is defined, expressing itself in a commercial dance choreographed by its paymasters.
Think of a mining town’s company store and apply that to an entire country. A profitable new seam opens up, and the mining company opens a pay-as-you-use activity center. Spend a moment ceasing to be abjectly grateful for the doo-dads acquired via Third World slavery and you may see what I mean.

This is the reality I perceive. That does not blind me to the universal truth that laughter itself transcends any trite system that seeks to yoke it.
We all need our faiths. That is mine. Bite me.

Over the next seven days, I was to once more immerse myself in the mirth and levity only collective comic engineers/alchemists can muster. I do love my professional tribe.

The venue itself was a temporarily walled-off, ticketed section of a public park. Three main stages, each with back-to-back programming. There were also roving clowns, roving models in balloon dresses, and for a fee designed to heavily bruise but not lacerate your Chinese wallet, you could get your child's face painted by an international artist in that field.

The days were spent hiding a genuine suicidal depression behind my makeup while being a backdrop for hastily contrived family photos. The crowds were too dense for anything else. Forty minutes at a time maintaining a brittle internal vigilance, while mobbed by competing family units fighting for the opportunity to crowd around me and flash the universal peace sign at the camera. Oh, the romance.

In the evenings, a gang of us had discovered a nearby improvised restaurant, a converted ad hoc concrete storage area, run by a local Chinese family. The prison guards ate there, and after the first evening our collective internal hilarity as we bantered and spun tales and giggled earned some general tolerance. We adopted that family and they fed us and provided limitless beer. We gave them gifts and tipped heavily and they stayed open as long as we wanted while the mother sat against a wall creating ornate needlework pictures on purchased quilts. We bought all those as well.

Whatever the venue, wherever we meet, however we happen to be exploited in our chosen pursuit of making strangers briefly gleeful—
these are my friends, my workmates, my brothers—

Whatever my life contained to get me here, with these people, these unstoppable, unquenchable flames of absurd eccentric incandescence who will not, who cannot simply grow up and stop playing and laughing and finding new ways to thumb their noses at that thing we all know, that thing that visits and attempts to devour us, that feeling of a life half lived, while they, blithely, for their own sake as well as for us all, test the borders of possibility and imagination and bliss, too, as Peter Panic did every evening in Xihu, return to show us that in fact there are no borders but fear—Whatever despairing inner provinces I've ever been stranded in have been worth enduring, simply because I have the companionship of this fraternity that loves me as I love them. Imperfectly, disfunctionally yet with a humor that cannot be quenched and with a collective faith in that humor that is redeemed in the laughter we create.

I am so very, very profoundly grateful.

I had also collected ‘X’. My arbitrary alphabetical quest was over. A sense of achievement settled for all of two minutes. I needed something else to live towards. I decided to write these stories. In the order they were achieved, and in the order they were written, this was the last.
I wonder what my future holds?

I hope there's Clown in it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

9 out of 10 stiltwalkers are handicapped.

I've been doing this stilt thing 30 years, I've built many many pairs of stilts for myself and others. I'm just about to attempt to make a pair out of chinese waxwood and the pegs are so slim it scares me. Once inch square Hickory is what I've used the last decade. While I have this going on I thought I'd write down some info that I parrot out to interested stiltpeople and others about the prime importance of the fitting process.

You are not symmetrical, you might like to be but you're not. Grab a piece of newspaper and stand on it in a neutral stance [if you have a movement background] or a 'putting stance' [if you are new to this]

Don't look down throughout, focus on a horizon and keep your chin facing forward and just stand as naturally and as comfortably as you can. Ideally your hips and shoulders should be on the same plain.

Have a friend trace the outline of your feet and then step back and look down.

Yep, you're a freak. You will see that the way you naturally stand is far from symmetrical, there's all sorts of variation going on.

It is these individual variations applied to symmetrical equipment that handicap the vast majority of people who use stilts. You will be doing your movement vocab and your body a huge favor if you accept this. I'm talking here specifically about 'Peg' stilts, as that is my speciality.

I move very naturally and that is a large part of both my appeal and why I have physically survived using an apparatus that by design applies undue stress to the body for as long as I have.

Here's what I do in the fitting process.

After you have done the newspaper tracing exercise keep it for reference.

At the point where you have both the shafts and the braces on which your footpeg will stand grab a ladder or platform and a friend. It's important both your feet are at the same level as you fit first one stilt then the other. You need to be able to put your weight on the stilt you are fitting without stepping up or down from the secure position you start from.

You should be standing on some sort of secure platform with the ability to shift you weight entirely on and off one foot with minimal movement.

Put [have your friend] the unsecured footplate on the stilts bracing and position the stilt as directly as possible under you. You are looking to have a straight line shoulder, hip, knee, foot.

Have your partner issue two instructions, "Weight on" and "Weight off"

You should be focused on keeping a straight stance and being aware that there is a positional spot you are seeking wherein your weight will transfer directly down and into the ground.

Your assistant should be focusing on only one thing, where your foot is on it's brace in relation to the top of the stilt up where it's later going to attach to just below your knee. Depending on where your foot is positioned, the top of your stilt, once weight is applied, will pull either towards or away or forward or backward and what you are seeking is for when the weight is applied it does not pull in any direction at all.

It doesn't matter how non symmetrical this ends up being. You will feel that once weight is applied it transfers straight downwards and your assistant will feel no counter force at the top of the stilt. When this is achieved mark the footplates position and move onto the same exercise with the other stilt.

Using the markings, screw the footplates on and then I repeat this exercise with the shoe that gets bolted to the stilt as a second layer of balance fitting. Same same, "weight on" "weight off", again when the conditions of the top of the stilt remaining stable when weight is applied is reached, then mark the shoe placement and bolt on accordingly. Your assistant should be simply able to rest their finger on the very top of your peg stilt without it moving as you put weight on and off at the final stage of balancing.

Fixing the attachments below the knee can affect the linear line of balance later in the construction but if you fashion it with it's original placement in relation to the outside of your leg to mirror that of the fitting process above then that's ideal. Alternatively you can construct the tops before this fitting process so the whole thing is integrated in the one process.

I typically do my top bits second and have never had any real issues.

Having a well personally balanced pair of stilts will allow you to transfer a great deal of your movement vocab from the ground up to your stilt movement.

I watch many stilt practitioners handicapped by bad equipment. They are hip driven or always leaning either back or forward and it greatly limits the movement available to them as well as putting uncalled for stress on their lower back or knees.

The real test of a well balanced pair of stilts is to be able to pirouette without compensation or traveling anywhere.
Other tests are being able to hold one leg up next to your head while standing straight. [You can see in the above photo I'm not doing that, I'm forward and to the left a little, this is bad form however it's a snapshot and I was probably in the process of straightening, no really!]

email me if you have further questions.

Visual Peacemakers.

You're interesting to look at.

MANY STEPS from Takayuki Akachi on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Australian Banter Humor

ALSO, you can say 'fuck' on Australian TV after certain hours and in some/many ways the culture is far less pretentious than other English speaking countries.

Here Carrie Fisher is refreshingly treated like a 'mate'

one more

The Study of Humor is Uplifting

Friday, May 20, 2011

Have a good weekend...

Street to internet to 11 million hits.

So you're walking about on a sunny day in the weekend in Fremantle, the Port of Perth Australia and as is usual there are various creative tinkerers plying their trades on the sidewalk. Here's one guy playing a 12 string and the atmosphere round him is palpable as others have stopped to listen and are being transported elsewhere while listening.

So you stop yourself and watch but watching fades to listening and then listening becomes all for an undefined period and you fight it with part of your mind because this after all is just some busker and this is just part of your afternoon on a sunny day in the weekend but you cannot move on until it's over and when it is and the musician looks up and smiles at his job well done you are once again back where you are, yet it seems that undefined period you went to a far away place and have just returned. You might drop him a coin, you might not but part of you has changed forever and that's the power of being open on the street.

Now translated to the internet and this same piece by the same person gets eleven million viewers.

Words rarely fail me....

The best I have is "Oh Boy"

Close your eyes.

Probably better if you go full screen for this or better yet just close your eyes.

My frame of reference seems unique and unhealthy. There's been so much laughter, so much joy. I've worked at the coalface of it's production with some of the most intrepid miners of my generation. Gusts, gales of merriment are produced in otherwise barren public spaces by folk who unlock gates and swing them open and orchestrate glee in the moment.

Yet decades of melancholia weigh on me and it's increasingly uncomfortable. What do I have to let go of?

I'm cradled in a facility. I cannot function properly it seems. I have to force myself to eat because my inclination is not to. I think I try really hard. I cannot be given what I need. People who try stagger off exhausted. I'm aware that I live in a paradise and yet this self pity is just blightful.

The world sails on and the best I can do is close my eyes and listen.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

gamarjobat. Modern Pantomime

A solid international street theatre background, very high level slick isolation mime skills and a playfulness that gives them clown chops.
Their timing is well honed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Anthony Livingspace- Street Performer

Anthony Livingspace turned his back on society 25 years ago and has been in its face ever since.His neck aches. Nobody seems to care.

Out of this frustrating void Tony pulls laughter.

He's adopted the junctions of two bars and a church on banked cobbles in the old part of Granada on the hill in the south of Spain.

His show is built on pain so Tony has to build up sorrow misfortune and woe in useable quantities to even consider going through the agony of comedy.

Tony's genius is that he provides industrial quantities of sorrow misfortune and woe and many other, equally sterling qualities by the use of a simple tool that is his lifestyle.

He's an anarchist, a comic anarchist whose laughter is drawn from those who recognise in his show and thus in his mind, and briefly theirs, that all this seriousness and convention and dignity and rigidity, is laughable.

He has a free apartment, his own pitch and nuns who lock up the church (with them inside for the night) in the middle of his show to play with.

He puts a cloth over his head and in Spanish pleads to be let back into the nunnery,
"It was only one movie",
"The people were only pretending",
"It wasn't real love."

He skips up to the church with soccer ball underarm and shouts repeatedly for Mary at the door, he waits loudly, asks if Jesus can come out to play soccer, then starts kicking his ball against the steps.

He's walked in the church clothed and out the church naked within seconds to thunderous applause.

He's been experimenting for years.  One of the last great street theatre purists. He can and does do shows inside, on stages, in theatres, but just for variety. He is the only performer I know of his quality who's married the street form rather than using it as a springboard.

Originally Australian and a dishwasher, Anthony confronted his own boredom in public places as a young man, and in this self induced state he has carved a small career consisting of his trousers. amp,mike, suit and a multitude of small ever changing props.

In small part, Pepe, and Lee Ross have been influences although in my mind Tony goes further. He takes Pepe's physical impro further and Lee Ross's improvisational commentary further still having codified it in a small sampling unit connected to an amp.

For those unaware Pepe was the king of Covant garden improvisational mischief for a while, legendary in the risks he took, physically and socially and comically before tragically succumbing to his alcoholism, while Lee Ross was a graduate of some NY theatre arts unit who spent time internationally on the street before taking three roles at once for cirque du soleil touring Asia before retiring to be a conceptionalist of sorts in LA.

However no-one else to my knowledge has spent time consistently getting obese men to take off their shirts in public and vamp.
Or eats a flower so wistfully.
Or created so many inspired original comic 'bits' in the increasingly template d and regulated world of street theatre.

His show is contrived madness dedicated to simply and briefly making people happy.

Figuratively, if you were to imagine the outskirts of society and from there walk a day and a half, then have on hand a very powerful set of binoculars, you may, in the distance make out what looks to be a putrid swamp.
Tony lives just on the other side of that but returns to do shows for the folk.

He has a rare full instinctive sense of comedy coupled with that second sense of where the crowd can be taken and innate timing, all counter balanced by a romantic disdain for success or safety.

Many years ago we shared a hotel room, a cheap room in a converted victorian house downtown Christchurch NZ.
Anthony confessed that he was actually painfully lonely but held a belief that somewhere out there was a woman who was perfect for him and that gave him strength.
It was pitch black and I let the moment hang before stiletto-etting his soft underbelly with my scorn.
“Do you have any idea of the amount of compromise that goes into a relationship?” I asked.
“This fairy tale you use to ward off weeping yourself to sleep, this article of faith of yours, you realize your unrealistic hope dooms you to a realistic hopelessness?”
There was a weighted silence and then the wounded retort.
“You know Martin, when I'm your age I'm going to be a lot more successful than you.”

I laughed. Yet twenty years passes and while Tony is still living month to month, in Australia now but still working Europe which is the better fit for him and having just returned from Japan from a post apocalypse Tokyo street theatre festival I concede that as a street performer he does now hold an advantage. He remains fearless and at heart still a practicing optimist .

Already an accomplished technical mime he bounced up to me once after years apart and excited confided.
“Hey Martin I've been studying a lot of this clown stuff, doing classes in Europe.”
“Really” I returned guardedly.
“Yep, did all these exercises, getting in touch with my inner child, that sort of thing.”
“What came of that?” I asked.
“Well what happened was I found my inner child...and raped him.. and got sentenced to 15 years in my inner prison.” he delivered with a deadpan expression but an evil grin in his eyes.

Anthony's beyond successful. He's an uncompromising public comedian and while it could hurt his feelings to be told this, he is indeed a clown of exceptional quality.

The next link might be external. It's stored on facebook but open to the public. I loathe facebook but this is an entire show staged on the street in Edinburgh and captures the energy and the glee Mr Livingspace creates.