Life after the Buskers Festival

MICHELE A'COURT
Last updated 09:07 29/01/2014
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BALANCING ACT: Street performers will delight and surprise people at the International Buskers Festival.

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Michele A'Court

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OPINION: As you read this, I will be in the depths of misery.

That's an odd way to tell you how much I loved being part of the World Buskers Festival in your city for the past two weeks. But there it is.

"Post-Festival Blues" is a universal phenomenon recognised by performers everywhere. We're often momentarily surprised by the sudden descent into gloom until we remember, "Ah, it's Wednesday".

PFB is part homesickness for the place you recently called home and the loving pseudo-family you created; part physical and emotional exhaustion; and also a terrible sense of loss once the daily routine of getting ready for the show, doing the show and unwinding from the show is taken away.

Disbanded now, 55 street performers, cabaret artistes and comedians are scattered across the planet like a fragmented tribe of Eeyores, gazing balefully over our shoulders at the good times we just had.

It's always bad after any gathering of fringe dwellers, but it is worse after Christchurch. This is the festival every performer wants to do - the one where we feel the most treasured, respected and supported. Not just by staff and crew (though, good lord, them too) but also by audiences willing to queue two hours before box office opens in the morning to secure a seat for that night, and who will brave extreme heat or icy winds or driving rain (stupid summer) to see what we do.

You need to understand how good you are as an audience, Christchurch. In other cities and in other countries, people stay home in droves. Parking, babysitters and school nights too easily get in the way. You turn up like you've been waiting for this all year. Which, apparently, you have.

We shouldn't be surprised that, after 21 years of this joyful nonsense, you have cottoned on spectacularly to the "bucketing" shtick, reserving your seats with a donation and then tossing more in at the end as your monetary round of applause.

All of us seem to like that direct relationship between performer and audience. You know who you are giving it to and you pay us better than most producers do. And we get to talk to each other without a microphone involved.

In the past 11 days I have been hugged by strangers, caught up with old friends and occasionally been berated for my political views as I've stood at the door of my tent. I wouldn't have missed a moment of it.

I have finally found a hotel so quiet we can sleep till lunchtime and where staff slip in after we've headed to work at 5pm to put out fresh towels. I know of several bars where they keep the kitchen open for dinner at 11pm and cheerfully let you pay for a round of cocktails with $2 coins.

This will be the highlight of my year and it's only January. I am going back to bed for a cry.

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- The Press

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