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Friday, 25 April 2014


So, in what is starting to feel jarringly like a regular commute, I got on another long-haul Emirates flight back to sun-kissed and spider-infested Australia. To Fremantle, just outside Perth, this time, for the Fremantle street arts festival. I was looking forward to this one. I'd played it a handful of years ago with my old double-act, and had a great time, so I was excited to be going back.

Photo by Hugh Marsh

It didn't disappoint. Flawlessly gorgeous weather the whole week, lovely big juicy audiences, and a delightful gang of fellow performers to twat around with in between shows. This, as Chris Tarrant used to say, is what they want. Gigs like this are always precious for the gift of hanging out with old friends and making new ones, and this weekend, happily, I did both.

Thought it might be nice to talk a little about some of them.

Noa and Uri

I'm not sure if they know how poetic they are, both in their work and in their off stage lives. I first met them at a long gig in Germany and was Immediately charmed into submission by them and their beautiful act. Their chilled yet sunny outlook (as underlined by the name of their act "Cirque No Problem"), their "fallen through a wormhole from a steampunky alternative Edwardian gypsy word" costumes, their duo trapeze routine (on the street!) which tells the story of their love while hanging upside down on a rig supported by volunteers. It's an amazing routine, which includes brilliant acrobatics, stepping on genitals, and some rather excellent relationship symbolism (balance, mutual strength, carrying each other, oh yes) to create something that pretty much always, literally, brings a tear to this weary vaudevillians eye. Oh, and their daughter Hally (Named after the comet!) wins the award for most adorable small child currently in the international street performing scene. By a mile.

Jessica Arpin

There's something lyrical and perfect about the prop that jessica has chosen to become a mistress of - The circus bicycle. I've never seen it used in a street theatre show before, which is crazy, bearing in mind how many bloody unicyles infect the circuit like one-wheeled herpes. A bike, though, is different. People have bikes. In the same way that I like to use props that people have experience of, in the belief that when I do something unexpected with, say, some spoons, it means more to an audience because, y'know, they have spoons, there is something ideal about a performer using a bike on the street. Bikes belong on the street. it doesn't look out of place, or special, until she slides, effortlessly, onto it's saddle, riding it backwards, or upside down, or sitting on the handlebars looking nonchalant as it describes big lazy circles around the edge of her audience. Blissful. Jessica also talks backwards. Fluently. In six languages. I love that my job lets me  know people like this.

Pete Mielniczek

I've known Pete for nearly 30 years. When I arrived at Covent Garden in the late 80's, fresh faced and with a young brain full of the dream of somehow being able to make a living out of performing, he was already there, being hilarious and silly. And here he was, still being just as silly as he's always been, if not more so. His is a gentle, subtle form of clowning, if you can say that about someone who smashes plates, swears loudly at a dustpan and brush, and encourages his audience to chant loudly about how he doesn't make them chant loudly. Off stage, he's chock-full of understated style, but on stage, with his over-sized, shapeless grey suit, red beret and absurd, massive white boots, he looks like a man drawn by an over-excited child on a tight deadline.  His is one of the acts that the other performers watch. Always a good sign. People often talk about a good clown as being a master of controlled chaos. Pete shows you that the control part is wildly overrated.

 Here are a few more things my camera saw while I was there.

Finally, here's Pete's drawing of the band he saw one night at a cafe in town. I take photos, he draws pictures.

A lovely time was had by all, then. Hoorah for that. And while we're on the subject of lovely times, I'm ridiculously busy this month. Very excited to say that I'm the sole support act for Brian Conley's brand new UK tour, which starts next week! Full details here. I'm also doing a few dates of "Showman" in the UK this year, the first one is coming up on the 24th of May in Dorchester, with special guest Sarah Bennetto - click here for info and booking.  There are more dates to follow, so I might well be coming to your part of the country, or indeed world, soon. Ooh, cryptic. Get me.

1 comment:

Noa hartman-weiss said...

Hey Matt, just loved what you wrote. thank you, it made me blush. it was a pleasure to get together as always but it was actualy one of the best festivals. weather, public, accomondation and offcourse, good friends. x Noa