The Need for Absurdity

The Need for Absurdity

With the Streetdiversions Festival, I sought to fill the streets with unexpected, provocative, humourous and absurd spectacles; all at once transforming the public into an audience.

All events are transient and although this festival took place over a matter of days, my hope was that performances would impact upon people’s thoughts for far longer.

The power of the event actually lay in its fleeting nature – a day where members of the public encounter unfamiliar, bizarre and often baffling acts. These acts, though transitory, cause pedestrians to stop in their tracks and shift their focus to something fun and uplifting. This is street theatre at its best – diverting and engaging people as they go about theior daily business. It is this diversion that makes seemingly light-hearted performances so important – their power to break the mundane and open our eyes to fresh sights and new positive encounters to change our perception of a familiar environment. The very streets that we tread on a daily basis become stages for the unexpected – and allow us to see, not only our city, but also our fellow inhabitants anew.

The magic of street theatre is its communal nature – previously anonymous shoppers are now allies as together we face everything from imposing 10ft tall musical insects to a smartly-dressed troupe of serenading bellboys.

We can too easily become oblivious to the daily routes we take to pay our bills, head to school, to the doctor, to work. We navigate and weave past market researchers and leafletters and rarely stop to consider our all-too familiar environment. The professional artists who take part in the festival exert the opposite effect – they attract us with novelty, skill and peculiarity. They are specifically chosen to gently disrupt your day. This may happen simply at the sight of them, the sounds they make or by some subtle behaviour. Some are unmistakable, whilst some you may pass without realising. The more subtle acts, if we notice them, make us look not just at their behaviour but also at our own. The talent of these actors is to mimic reality and shed an amusing light on our perception of normality.

In a world where there is much to be weary about, anything that can make us pause, puts a smile on our face and encourages us to connect with strangers is surely worth celebrating. It is on this note that I extend my deep-felt thanks and admiration to the wonderful performers I had the privilege to work with over the life of the festival. These artists represented some of the best in their field. And thanks to the spectators as it is their willingness to engage that made the spectacle come alive.

The serenading bellboys of Les Grooms
Les Orbilys from Belgium
Insects from the Neighbourhod Watch company