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crosswalk olympians

street theatre's easier than you think


when i learned that the drama paper i'd enrolled in this semester at uni auckland was going to include a street theatre project, i was apprehensive. and our haphazard, short rehearsal process did little to calm my fears -- although i usually left rehearsals strangely exhilarated, even a little excited.

and then we performed them.

the first piece happened in the quad. the group, decked out in lab coats, cleared a grassy section, expelling a pair of students eating lunch at a picnic table. they moved the tables, staked out the area, and threaded the stakes with caution tape. after they hung a sign that read "PIGEON ERADICATION IN PROGRESS" they proceeded to spray the area thoroughly with liquid from a container clearly marked corrosive. they took notes and samples, and sprinkled bait (bread crumbs from a bag) on the ground. when some pigeons actually appeared, they lured them closer with bait and sprayed them with their corrosive liquid.

a man looking on: "what the fuck did those pigeons ever do to those fucking nerds?" pause. "that's what's wrong with this fucking country."

then one of the scientists began to act odd. he tried to peck up bits of bait. he tried to flap his wings. the other scientists' eyes widened in terror. he came at them. they flurried and fled, scattering through the quad. a bit animal farm at the end of it.

i missed the second piece while helping the pigeon eradicators clean up, but it had something to do with a cult.

the third piece took place in albert park. we sat on benches around the empty fountain. a woman in a tall wig (think marge simpson hair, only neon pink) led a troupe of four girls in flowered bathing caps and striped suits down the path. they halted at her whistle and she placed her giant yellow bag on a bench, producing a boombox that she placed on the edge of the fountain. some fifties era music played from it. the girls got into formation and dove into the fountain. there, dead serious and supremely committed, they executed a synchronized swimming routine that lasted for a good five minutes. when they climbed out, their pink-haired coach gave them each towels. (remember the fountain was empty.)

my group was last. we headed down to the queen street crossing in front of the whitcoulls -- it's a big, crowded crossing with animated walk/don't walk signs that feature loud beeping and strolling green or frozen red men. our three athletes, representing france, nigeria, and new zealand, stripped off their track suits to reveal their spandex unitards and numbers while rebecca (the olympic official) and i (the coach) set the props. kayleigh looked particularly stellar in a hot pink unitard over a fatsuit.

when we were prepped, we waited for a crossing light while the olympians continued to warm up. at the light, rebecca and i ran out into the crossing, a ribbon stretched between us: diagonal crossing first. rebecca blew her whistle to start the race and the three athletes sprinted through the ribbon.

from the next corner we had a relay race, the next slow-motion, the next a hurdles race (involving crates!) and the last, an egg-and-spoon race. the fat olympian dropped her egg.

our medal ceremony was last, and i think a picture will speak louder than words:


i'm off camera, throwing the confetti.

and verdict? it was awesome. so much fun. it makes me want to do street theatre all of the time. we got countless stares. some guy stopped us to take our picture. we were being cheered on from various corners. we also had a donut thrown at nigeria and we got called fags and fairies, but that's part of the fun, too.

Posted by ctamler 23:45 Archived in New Zealand Tagged events

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