performers' library

Halifax Festival Report (1999)
Halifax International Buskers Festival, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Martin Ewen

alifax 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 bonked 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 their show.

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 to him.

Thats all I've got. I'd review each act individually but whats the point?

Martin Ewen

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 us.

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