Kicked off in Asheville Nth Carolina, A small city on a series of hills with a deserved reputation for the tolerance of street theatre. The policewoman I talked to said that street performance was recognised as an integral part of the cities culture and the right to that expression was always a consideration in evaluating situations. So at the very least you know you’ll be tolerated up to a point which is all you can ask for really.
It’s a low level meander of an inner city, low to briefly busy foot traffic and small pitches, 30/60 max, mostly the lower end.
There is a central square, it could be worked for a very focused long build circle show, I worked as I do around the edges. Every fri night there is a massive crowded drum circle that fills the place for about three hours.
It was the first venue I employed stiltcam, one of my projects for the season.
I have that footage but it needs to be edited down to bite size chunks and my notebook cannot cope so I am a little stalled with a backlog of footage from the season.
I am working on gaining access to a powerbook to address this.[Whistles innocently]
I also, along with springtime street theatre, worked 100 miles further on over a couple of weekends in Charlotte for Micheal Jordans NBA team as pregame entertainment. I have Steve Langley to thank for those gigs and a strange gig that followed.
I received notice that someone had seen me at one of the games and wanted me to perform at their one year olds birthday party. This was somehow related to the team itself, one of the players or staff, it was their one year old.
Ringing the mum I explained that I was still recovering from the post traumatic stress inflicted by my last one year old birthday party which was 15 years prior. All the children had to be led from the house screaming when I arrived and the only person not able to escape was the birthday boy because presumably he couldn’t walk yet. As I stooped and entered BBoys room he saw me and his jaw dropped and he started drooling and went catatonic.
What we call in the clown business ‘a limited success’
There was a long pause, [I think it’s my NZ accent but it could also be that I naturally am quite hard to fathom]
I continued. “If this event is 80% family focus and 20% or less dealing directly with the one year old I’d be happy to do it.
and so it came to be. It paid well too. Enough to get me to Dundas Canada for the first festival of the season.
Here’s the story.
I drive 130 miles to the gig, I’ve been trying to get hold of the client but they have not been available so I just carried on as agreed. Arrived at an upmarket park with private venue setups with a large covered permanent roofed area and facilities.
The young mum was one of a few people setting up.
She was embarrassed, she said she’d been trying to contact me for days as she had some high school kid who was going to do stilts for free. She pulled out a wad and offered me $300 for gas.
I just smiled at her and said, “You know I’m very good at this, I’m just going to do the gig anyway.” and walked off to get ready.
I talked to the agent involved on the phone and he rang her and while I was still putting my makeup on the mum returned and gave me $750, told me she’d just had a very unpleasant conversation on the phone and that this was my fee in full but my services were not required.
again I just took the money, smiled at her and said,
“You know, I think I’m just going to do the gig anyway.”
She mumbled something annoyed like, “I guess I can’t stop you.” and walked away. I knew I was an embarrassment to her administratively but I knew I had something to offer and I’d already been paid. I needed to do this for my own generation of clownpower. Plus it was some NBA players having a party!
The Top Shelf SUV’s started sometimes three to a player, arriving the drivers lolling around the vehicles as the players and entourage as well as lesser vehicles spilling family and children started to flow in.
I have a unique attitude towards children, I barely tolerate them, they enjoy it, I still have games they can play or I with them, I’ve been doing this for 20+ years.
I work on the principle that kids bore me, they usually come up with some attempt to engage me and I improvise from there. I’m very self contained at these gigs.
So I worked the kids first and prowled around generally and then the sound system kicked in.
Great big chunky melodious Rap.
I am in my own humble opinion one of the more funky 11 foot personages on the planet so I just jumped on that beat and cut loose.
Glances were exchanged, the clown seemed to be exceeding his natural perimeters.
But I worked it and within short order I was approached by one of the Alphas who gave me a terrorist fist bump and said the loveliest thing anyone said to me all year. He said,
“YOU are a PLAYAR! Your GAME is TIGHT!”
I came up to the same dude in the carpark after the gig and in my funny NZ accent I asked him.
“You know that thing about me being a playar and having a tight game?”
“Yep” he said
“Is that good?” I asked, milking it.
He grinned, “Yep it means that you are a PLAYAR and your GAME is TIGHT!” he said once again.
I drove off, interesting day.
Causes martin ewen Supports
The Enterprise Foundation
Solar Neighbors Program