Festival Report (1999)
International Buskers Festival, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
was well-oiled mayhem. The administration sets it all up, pops the performers
in at one end and then plays pinball with 15 balls in play and the flippers
thwacking like crazy. The wheelbarrows are taken to the bank, just about everybody
gets drunk, feels good and disperses globally.
It was my first time there but I got the impression that for public and performer
alike it was considered a cast iron gig. Crowds were big, hats were big, weather
held up until the last day rained out and gave everyone extra time to pack.
The festival seems to have been going long enough for it to develop into a
slick, well-run, forgone conclusion. But that said, all credit goes to the
administration: Kim, Angela, Brian and Robyn for making all the big decisions
and Bob, Lori, Dave and Howard for making all the small ones that seemed so
big at the time. (Gasp--as he retracts his tongue from the collective sphincter.)
The ever-present volunteers fell into two camps, doe-eyed debutants and drama-proof
veterans; all helped lubricate our experience (rumour has it that one even
used her own fluids, the names will be furnished in my next article; 'Halifax--Who
The acts themselves were varied: magic, mime, movement, juggling, unicycles,
juggling, unicycles, juggling, unicycles, singing, balance on tight rope,
slack rope, chairs and sundries, percussion, facepainting, instumentalists
and clown. This is the major advantage to performers in festivals, there are
so many contacts to be made, styles and philosophies to digest, collaborations
formed, information shared, new friends made. For me, this was the point of
the exercise and I think all the performers gained in some way perspectively.
My only (ONLY!) gripe, and it's personal as well as administratively political,
is with the management of the historic properties site who's behaviour towards
performers was not so much anal retentive as anal redundant. Armed with security
guards with Caligula complex's and one particularily evil retailer, who in
a past life was quite possibly one of those incredably deep sea fish with
a lamp stuck on his head that didn't work and hopefully in the next life will
return as an anorexic's bowel, all made life difficult and in one case impossible
for any of the site-specific acts put there. This whole site needs to be taken
out of the loop.
Tom Comet, who had been frighteningly ill the week before, never missed a
show and powered through the peoples' choice prize.
Unbilled arrivals Les Nereides; Heloise Deporas and Genevieve Lechasseur,
were stunningly blue and 'out there.'
Dow and Pearson deserve the 'high art of proffessional stupidity' award for
I found Bubble Boy to me to be the most simply beautiful act but then I'm
just an old mime softy.
Hardest working act I would give to magician Steven Elve (rumour has it he
cheerfully palmed his own afterbirth.) If there was a gap in the showers,
he was out there, if there was a spare stage, he was out there. Over 10 days
he must have performed 80-100 shows. I imagine him on the tilting deck of
the Titanic, thinking 'I still think there's time for one more.' All credit
Thats all I've got. I'd review each act individually but whats the point?
Martin Ewen and his 3-meter-tall
stilt character 'Lurk' have been traversing the globe for the past ten years
observing the world from a slightly different perspective than the rest of