Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Street performers - sometimes creepy, always entertaining!

Have you heard the expression

"The job was handed to him on a plate"?

This probably wasn't what you were thinking of ...
photo credit: D.Watson
or perhaps the performer had received advice on

"How to get ahead in your career"!
photo credit D.Watson
Are you talking about me behind my back?
photo credit: D.Watson

Various careers require excellent balance and poise, though some might say of this man -

"He was sitting down on the job"
Bad puns I know, but street performers seem to bring that out in me ;-)

Seriously though, these artists are worth their weight in gold (oh dear there's another one) and I have huge admiration for them; I also thoroughly enjoy watching the audience discussing the show and trying to work out how it's done.

The performer above not only managed to hold the pose, and cross and uncross his legs, but maintained his composure when one woman practically crawled under him to look up at his bottom to see how he was "magically" sitting in thin air!
A tiny stage, some props and confidence
-  almost all you need to begin!
These modern day performers providing walk-by entertainment are following in the footsteps of an age old form of employment and although the costumes and makeup might be different from what was seen hundreds of years ago, they still need to pull an audience and encourage them to give money, to enable them to make a living.

A fine Jazz group on the Charles Bridge in Prague are not only performing, but selling CDs to an appreciative audience.
A delightfully random piano recital at a railway station ...
This gentleman's kit included a quality sound system but unfortunately there were very few passers-by when I saw him.
Ulm. Germany
All jobs have their particular challenges and street performers are no exception. I found myself wondering how a job advertisement for a mime artist would be worded:

The position

This free-lancing job provides a daily adrenaline rush, inconsistent hours and unpredictable income. You'll be your own boss and must have good planning and financial management to sustain you during the lean times. There is the potential to be 'discovered' and take the world by storm. Would suit a person who thrives on unpredictability, works well alone and has the ability to think on their feet.

Key selection criteria

  • Excellent body control
  • The ability to remain motionless for extended periods of time
  • Proven ability to engage the attention of a distractible, fickle audience
  • The ability to engage people of different ages and nationalities and encourage them to part with money, using only gestures and facial expression - ie outstanding non-verbal skills
  • Enjoy working at different ourdoor locations (known as a pitch) and able to assess pedestrian traffic to gain maximum exposure with as few other distractions as possible
  • Desire to work in varied and changeable weather conditions
  • Have a repertoire of poses to deflect hecklers and those determined to get a reaction
  • Self belief and confidence
  • Skills with make up and costume design
  • A willing accomplice to assist with the set up and dismantling of the equipment
  • Be prepared to put in a lot of time "out of hours" to fine tune the act

  • ... and most of all, excellent bladder control is vital or you'll be scampering in a most un-angel-like way, down from your pedestal, intent on finding a suitable location to find 'relief'.

More information for those wanting to enter the profession: 





Bruce Hammerson said...

Yes!!! you are right. I like their posture and creativity.

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Sue Travers said...

Hi Bruce, Aren't they great!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. the last bullet point is one I'd fail at! I certainly couldn't sit like that either .. completely nobble me .. and honestly walking underneath him - still it takes all sorts and good for him for remaining as is. This sort of job is not one I'd apply for - great admiration though for those who do .. Cheers Hilary

Sue Travers said...

Hilary I think I'd need a massage after performing like that. I'm glad people do it and really hope they're well received - they deserve to be paid well too!