Street theatre is a truly amazing art form. There is nothing that quite like watching live performances up close and personal rather than from your settee. Whether it’s a duo, small group or a mind-boggling large scale display with huge props you can always be sure of a memorable time. Some theatre is carried out by amateur groups where as some is put on by professional travelling theatre companies. Remember, best doesn’t necessarily mean biggest! These displays are worth booking a holiday around and the best thing for the audience is that it’s all completely free (a god send in today’s economy and with the kids off school).
Seeing a sight like this is something I would plan day trips to France for. Source.
The French street theatre group, Royal de Luxe puts on displays like this Sultan’s Elephant, shown above. Enormous puppets, a 12 metre tall robotic elephant and performers playing the part of Lilliputians in period costume make this the very definition of spectacle. Going for a watery theme, the giant puppets make one heck of an impact ‘at sea’.
Playing up to the stereotypical English fashion of bowler hats and sock suspenders, this pair turn it up for the tourists by adding Union Flag undies and athletic gymnastics.
While these displays are crowd pleasers I’m more for the shows put on near my relatives on the Welsh border over in Shrewsbury. They’ve been lucky enough to have had regular, organised performances since 2005 and I was not let down this year. Read more. Watching someone with sparklers in their pants while doing handstands always evokes a certain amount of inappropriate curiosity. This year’s events were held over 3rd to the 5th of September.
Las Marionetas Gigantes were recently in Carros de Foc. The Company has represented their home country in festivals across the world. These yearly events are competed in with great gusto bringing out the best in European talent.
Cape Town, South Africa
Street performing in South Africa is a strongly cultural phenomenon. It’s colourful, energetic and rooted in history and tradition. For over 30 years the annual National Arts Festival in Grahamstown showcased the best South Africa had to offer has now spawned festivals country-wide. Read more.
The Edinburgh Festival has came to an end for another year and there was no shortage of great talent and variety. Mime artists, typically a French export, were out on the streets wowing and confusing attendees in equal measure.
You don’t have to do street theatre for a living to be taken seriously. Students from Concordia University performed the ‘Rights Here! Theatre and Law for Human Rights’ project on the streets of Montreal.
Impromptu spectacles such as a dancing Spiderman would impress me but these Canadians must have a higher fun threshold. View video.
Compagnie du Funambule
The place: Bucharest, Romania. The date: May 2009. Here a member of the Belgian street theatre group of performing funambulists plays a windscreen-washing gypsy during the locally organised ‘B.Fit in the Street’ event.
The port of Yokohama, Japan played host to the French street theatre group La Machine with their giant robotic 37 ton spiders. Surprisingly these massive 12 metre tall puppets were not made in Japan, but in Europe. They are suspended by ‘invisible’ cables from a crane but have fully articulated leg joints which flex and move menacingly. They can also spray water out of their mouths.
An athletic pair of tumbler and dancing roller skater performed for the gathering throng on the streets of Shenyang in Liaoning Province. This is how a lot of street artists started, putting on a show for free and hoping for a few shillings lobbed in an upturned hat (or similar receptacle). Now is a great time to visit China, between September and October or between April and May you’re guaranteed to see the best the country has to offer. An added plus is that these times of year are most like our own climate so you can be reasonably sure to have temperate weather.
For anyone scared rigid by Doctor Who’s ‘Weeping Angels’ look away now! Fake statues, live drama based on Latin classics and you’ve got a creepy combination of culture carried out with panache.
We’re back in the UK for the Tall Ship Races that started in July, this year. Street theatre performance wowed the crowd with colour, comedy, activity and engaging displays. They usually typified the maritime theme but others stuck to their urban roots. I was most amused by the almost opposite of what I expect of theatre and that is stillness. We’ve seen the painted people pretending to be statues but, what caught my eye was this pair of crazy seagulls.
Guest blogger, Greg Coltman, writes prolifically about the entertainment industry and particularly enjoys the medium of live theatre.