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Old 03-22-02, 07:39 AM   #1
martin ewen
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Default Auckland streetfest 2002

Auckland Buskfest 2002 Feb. 19-24th

An adventure, now in its second year, where Nick Nickolas grabs NZ’s largest city with all its self conscious, sprawling focusless charm, by the throat- and shoves his performance friends down it.

Lucky Rich
Nick Nickolas
Silly People
Dave Sheridan
Miss Behave
Debbie Robinson (pavement artist)
Gary Animal

(Imagine us all doing a cruiseship together, or a crippled supertanker , trapped in a submarine, in a mining disaster.)

We were all put up centrally which meant work was always close at hand and the staff at the backpackers seemed to get used to the fact that everytime they visited the second floor that in the hall Amy (Miss Behave), was either covered in chains and writhing or buried in a large mailsack writhing.
(Lucky had gifted her Unused mailbag, Heavy duty padlocks, chain and the knowledge.)
It was a generous festival in that way, I immediately borrowed $20 knowing I’d never pay it back.

The festival programmed 4 pitches this year (down from 6 last)
Viaduct, Aotea, QE2, and Vulcan Ln.

A little history, Auckland has always had a downtown that suffered in design by being one long corridor with drafty deserted open spaces at either end. With a decline in late night trading and the emergence of suburban malls it also lost its prominence as a social magnet.
Lately there's been developments downtown like the americas cup village.
Flatulently rich now congregate to watch motorless planks being blown across open water.
Once every 2 years the Barons and multi-corps battle it out on the water, parading their commercial confidence as they plunder expense accounts in a death defying game of financial chicken.
Ordinary people then gather and oogle at the objects they’ve helped purchase by consistently buying overpriced things they don’t need.
So the culture in Auckland city is a strange hybrid a sort of time-trapped corporate 80’s sheen lightly covering vast expanses of insecurity or indifference.
(being tortured non-entities is what makes kiwi’s interesting)

Vulcan lane, an intimate little pocket pedestrian lane in the middle of downtown , probably the oldest pitch in the country, has always been a small constant pitch for whoever found it.
Aotea Square and QE2 Square although generally sparse windtraps book-ending the main street have been made viable pitches over the last 2 years due to this festival.
The Viaduct , being as its designed as a viewing platform for the public to watch the pornographicly rich is a good pitch on the weekends but sparce during the week.
Each stage had a volunteer with bottled water (In case anyone gave birth during a show I was told)

A lot was learned between year one and year two, most notably the media were punctually fed on day one with a range of visual stimuli and so the fest kicked off with lots of free publicity, four or five colour photos and an article certainly helped the profile of the fest and had people hunting the acts.

Fremantle, Christchurch, Singapore , Whangarei and every major carpark in Japan are some of the festivals I’ve been involved in the formative years as audiences ingest then adopt a festival over the first 3 /5 years.

This was year 2 for Auckland but response or “following” for want of a better word to describe audiences who have committed to travel into town on the premise of catching performances increased markedly from last year to this.

By comparison the Christchurch festival is the largest and most consistently organized and successful street theatre festival in the southern hemisphere. (9 years)
It took at least 3/4 years before it reached anything close to the critical mass it takes to have the population adopt it as their own.

Auckland is at its second year and there are already people with programs in hand waiting to watch the shows. 4 well defined pitches daily, consistent audiences formed.
Critical mass reached with a measured expansion into a night stage at the viaduct next year or the year after is my bet.
It has the potential of being the largest street theatre stage in the country.
A bar, a huge courtyard, bring in tiered seating, lights, thats the potential of the viaduct, evening shows.
Blatent politicing aside

Hilby has captured the essence of Teutonic humour in the words “Fruity Jubes”
spoken in a german accent.
He has also been approached by the german embassy to work for them and that would in fact mean that he worked as a humorist for the german government.

Gary Animal started his show before anyone arrived and held a crowd of 10 or so while paying various brain damaged streetpeople to leave him alone. “You want a dollar?, excellent ,here, now go away.”
Approached by a shuffling wreak he put a paper bag over his hand before shaking hands and drowned rocky the raccoon (stuffed animal) in the fountain while disinfecting it after the shuffling wreak touched it.
“This has chlorine in it yeah?”
It was admittedly a slack time of day and the pedestrian rate was spare and inconsistent but Mr. Animal reconfirmed the fact that you can’t really blame the pitch and that its possible to pull a show while relishing adversity and having fun and having it pay for itself because although he spent large paying a passing flute player to provide accompaniment and a succession of psychiatric interludes costing 1 to 5 dollars a pop, he more than broke even after a rambling 40 minute set.

Lucky broke in his new 13ft uni outside nicks place off the lampost while teathered to people by rope round midnight.

Apart from nick nickolas’s consumate manipulation of casting, scheduling and duty free liquor import requirements the festival is coordinated by Pam Glazer, ‘Crackerjack Productions ‘ and mediaized marketed and council coordinated by Liz Lastnamemissplaced and a crew of chipper volunteers.
One handy tip passed from admin was that high res pics tucked somewhere on your web site saves being hunted down over promo images
I’d love to see it evolve up to the Denver model where you each have suites at the Sheridan and it could.
And really, glue sniffers and shambling, barking, cerebal husks with glaring eyes and that cunning for attention that performers often recognise.
Remind you its a street festival
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