Hey everyone. So, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been actively updating my website for the last month. You’ve also probably checked in to notice it was DOWN. Well, we had a bit of a run-in with some international hacking terrorists..you know: the kind that disable your website and then attempt to extort you into taking *their* security company to ensure it “never” happens to you again..
Needless to say, this was very devastating to me, as a one-woman show, as the bulk of my business HAPPENS over the internet and through my website. I’m now super behind on festival applications for over the winter and will likely suffer from a huge dry patch as a result. Rather annoying, but, what can we do about it?
As it has been, I’ve been quite busy with related endeavours; dancing on music videos and in commercials, and shooting a series of photos in really cool locations for a super amazing international publication that will feature an interview with me which I can’t reveal too many details about right now, so, if you haven’t seen me on the streets very much, rest assured I am not wallowing in some horrible pit of self-pity of the disabled site. Ha.
As I prepare myself for EastCoastTour2012, I’ve been working a new pitch in the city. I think it’s very important to constantly be challenging yourself with regards to where you work: as a busker, SO much of our job is in the nuances in demographics, interaction, timing, location… and honing one’s skill in these areas are what separates that local dude who never grows from artists aspiring to achieve a world-class show.
Last week, a curious thing happened to me. I had a couple of successful days down at the new pitch and the last day of my work-week, I was met with a very angry local statue. This is not uncommon in new cities; lots of locals are afraid that you’re “stealing” “their” spot and confrontations are usually calmed through explanation that I’m only passing through, or, I work a different schedule, or whatnot. Usually, people respond amiably and everyone is happy since schedules or pitch selection tends to work out on their own.
The notion of “my spot” or “your spot” is curious to me; especially in an industry that is celebrated for being SO open and transient. It smacks of insecurity and generally (if I may be so blunt to say) the acts that tout that they have a special spot reserved to them…well, I hate to say it, they are usually crappy shows. Typically, when I travel, I adhere to the ‘first come, first serve’ rule. It’s a very long-held tradition that is very strictly observed in places like Covent Garden where I would show up at 5am to claim my pitch for the day. While the rules vary between circle acts and roving acts (circle shows rotate on the hour, rovers are generally resourceful enough to find a new pitch), the one constant is whoever shows up first gets first pick of the pitch. So I found it curious that I was in an altercation with a local who approached me–firstly to accuse me of not having a license, and secondly to call me disrespectful for working “his” pitch (while he himself completely ruined my circle)… I explained to him how the rules typically work but as our interactions grew more and more drawn out, I realized that the dude was just angry because he felt that I was an economic threat to him. So, we chatted about that, as I really wanted to get to the bottom of it. Crowds respond to whatever they honestly feel is better: I’ve had my fair share of getting schooled while on tour in Europe (European statues can be, on occasion, absolutely stunning and incredible works of art, among the influx of over-saturation that is plaguing my facet of the industry) and it’s made me a better performer for it: don’t get me wrong, I felt terrible at the time and had to exercise as much resourcefulness as I could to ensure I made ends meet, but, I am SO grateful for those experiences. It’s because of that I have learned how to listen to my audience for their genuine reactions, and why, as a result, I continue to grow.
As a local street performer who works a regular pitch during off-season, I feel that we are ambassadors to the rest of the world; if a performer from Australia comes to Toronto to work a pitch that I frequent, I would hope that they return to their country with positive stories of how nice the artists in Canada are: even if it means suffering for a bit financially in the short-term. After all, I work in a global industry and I need to think globally to survive.
There is respect, however, to have to other performers if they feel as though you are encroaching on their comfort zone. While, I personally don’t find much to respect in assauging somebody elses’ comfort levels, what I CAN do is ensure that while I’m performing, I make sure we both have enough space in between us, that I do not play to a crowd that they have gathered and that if we make a mutual decision to swap off, I keep track of the time and honour that commitment. Personally, I can get a crowd anywhere, so, I generally shy away from the swap-off (a practise that statue acts generally don’t do anyway from my own experiences–other travelin’ statues, correct me if I’m wrong!) and simply find a new pitch for myself to carve out if I have shown up late and cannot get the “spot” I’d prefer. There is courtesy and respect to observe, for sure!
Anyway, all in all, I’m loving the new pitch and am sad that I only recently happened upon it. Too bad I’ll be heading out on tour this week! And, now that my site is back up, be rest assured there will be more posts from me in the near future. So much has been happening and I feel overwhelmed at where to start!
Hope you guys are having a wonderful Monday: I’m off to take the day and spend it on the island in good company before I skip town for a month.