This article was written by Stacy Zang on behalf of Dolphin Creative

When David Aiken or the Checkerboard Guy, started the podcast series Stories From The Pitch in 2011, his purpose was simply to document the life stories of artist Robert Nelson, also well known as ‘the Butterfly Man’ in the circle of street theatre. A street theatre artist himself, David has always looked up to the Butterfly as a mentor and as inspiration. After being diagnosed of cancer, Robert relocated to Pahoa in Hawaii with his wife and spent his last few years there. During this period, David initiated a project to arrange and record ‘interviews’ between Robert and his friends either through Skype or in person. After Robert passed away, the project continued and grew, with a clear vision to create a living oral history about street performance and to honour its greatest practitioners.

Street theatre is a form of performance and entertainment in outdoor public spaces. While it is arguably the oldest form of theatre in existence, street theatre is perhaps the least studied and least recognised, and it is often excluded from the history of theatre. Theatre, from ancient Greece to the postmodern era, is considered as high art, high on the pedestal. However, street, usually associated with peddling, the traffic, and graffiti, has the connotation of being crude, vulgar, and banal. No wonder people who are not familiar with street theatre tend to misunderstand that it is for performers who are not good enough for the stage, or for people who cannot get a sit-down job.

It is indeed a huge misunderstanding. Different from other types of theatre performed for a specific audience at a specific time, street theatre is spontaneous and unpredictable. In addition to crafts perfected over years ranging from juggling, clowning, acrobatics, mime, and magic, a street performer must also have the capacity to grab the attention of passers-by and to make them stay and laugh. The audience of street theatre are random, with mixed interests and expectations, and of diverse cultural and social backgrounds. A good show always invites participation from the members of the audience, and therefore, each show is unique and just for that moment. Another characteristic of street theatre is that it is open to all. Street performers always give before taking any voluntarily donations. They are so generous that they are ready to bring happiness to you for free.

Having said that, no matter how unstable and insecure the profession may appear, street performers can be financially very successful, i.e. making thousands of US dollars per hour. In our time, there are myriads of jobs on the market and many of them offer similar travel opportunities and certain autonomy, so why people choose to become a street performer?

David explained jokingly that most street artists felt neglected by their parents when they were kids, so they need to get approval from strangers to feed their ego. David enjoys reaction from the audience and the interaction with them. ‘Their laughter validates me as a human being’, he said. At the age of 13, David started teaching himself juggling. The 80s witnessed his heyday when he gained great popularity at festivals around the world. Nowadays, David mainly performs on cruise ships. ‘Street theatre is young people’s game. You need to be very driven and focused. But I am getting softer and older,’ he chuckled. Now he prefers to spend more time with his wife, two sons, and their dog in their home in Vancouver.

Magic Brian, based in New York, is from a younger generation of street artists. He is David’s colleague at the Busker Hall of Fame, a team of street artists who also help to produce the podcast series Stories From The Pitch since its formation. Different from David’s experience, Brian started off as a professional circus performer. About 16 years ago, he moved from the stage to the street. Growing up with supportive parents, Brian did not have any similar childhood issues. He simply thrives on instant approval from total strangers, just like David. Brian evinced that, ‘being a street artist means you need to always become better to survive’.

At its core, street theatre is about happiness. For street artists, they feel happiest when they make people happy. However, as David points out, in today’s media, happiness is much undervalued. Indeed, if we look around, we are surrounded by news of earthquakes, political scandals, social injustice, family violence, and animal rights. Happiness rarely makes headlines. We are more used to conflicts and anxiety. Happiness seems so superficial, and sometimes, it is just not cool enough. Or is it?

Imagine, a random crowd is drawn together by a single man’s performance. They do not know each other, nor do they expect to meet each other. However, both the performer and the audience immediately establish unconditional trust among themselves, suspending all their worries and doubts and just relishing the happy moment together. David admits that he is addicted to communal happiness. He sees it as an exchange of humanity and a larger-than-life experience. Each show creates a positive force on the world. There are all kinds of boundaries in the world, but we are really not that different. At least, we all enjoy a good laugh. In each show, everyone gives their time, attention, and love.

Nevertheless, street theatre is facing new challenges. While technology has facilitated our communication, it has paradoxically decreased real personal interactions: face-to-face and heart-to-heart interactions. People are less open to unexpected events or strangers on the street. Moreover, since we can find anything online without waiting, we all have much shorter attention span now. As Brian observes, people get jaded by TV shows like America’s Got Talent. They want spectacles immediately. A street theatre act normally takes 30 to 45 minutes, artists nowadays have to be more aggressive to attract interest and make people stay.

Therefore, the Stories From The Pitch is a very timely project. David and Brian not only aim to document the history and tradition of street theatre, but also to record guidance and advice from more established artists for newcomers. The audience of the podcast are mainly performers from the same tribe of street theatre, and sometimes fans who have chanced upon their performance somewhere around the world. While David spend about 10 hours on editing each episode, which lasts between one hour and one hour and half, he does not get instant approval as he does in performing. They occasionally receive enthusiastic emails about an episode released months ago. But it is all good. ‘Sometimes the destination is the journey, and I am enjoying the drive’, David said. He believes they are doing goodness, and goodness will give rise to more goodness.

David’s office where he edit the podcasts. Image courtesy: David Aiken.
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All the podcast episodes are available on the website http://buskerhalloffame.com . For people who are interested but not sure where to start, we have asked recommendations from David and Brian. You search for specific episode from the ‘index’ section.

Who’s been your favourite guest on the podcast personally?

David: Robert Nelson. We made 3 episodes about him.

Brian: I enjoyed my conversations with Charlie Caper, Clarke McFarlane and Master Lee the best. Interviews I did not do that are some of my favourites are Captain KeaneO, Johnny Fox and Mat Ricardo.

Who had the best bit of advice?

David: For me, the best advice comes from the interview between Robert and Al Millar. They talked about one should always try to contribute to the world in some way and to do something new.

Brian: I think Silver may have given the best advice because he talked about “paint by number” shows (generic) and how terrible it is. Not so much advice but hopefully encouraging people to be original.

Who had the funniest story?

David: I laughed at every episode. I spend a week to edit each of them, and it has been a great way to connect with the community.

Brian: Shay Horay has the funniest stories. Both of his short stories are great.

Stacy Zhang is the regional manager for Dolphin Creative in China. She believes that ‘beauty is meaningless until it is shared’. She also writes a monthly column for Buddhistdoor Global.

Stacy@dolphincreative.org

 

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关于Stuart Every

我们的创始人兼首席执行官Stuart Every拥有30年的制作经验。从18岁开始,他就参与了许多不同种类的制作其中包括音乐、戏剧、芭蕾、视觉艺术和喜剧。Stuart于2009年创立了Dolphin Creative。

名字背后的故事

如Stuart解释道
在2009年的一个夜晚,我与一些英国的老朋友们共进晚餐。他们都是一班不拘一格的戏剧制作人和马戏团制作人,其中大多数人是我认识了数十年的朋友们。谈话间掺杂了轶事,过去所制作的演出以及未来的计划。过了一会儿,其中一位朋友的客人发出一声叹息,似乎有些难以置信。“你们真的是一群鲨鱼。” 她感叹道

对此在场的众人都自豪的笑了,戏剧制作以及娱乐是个高风险行业,不是胆小的人可以涉足的行业。然后她站起来指着桌子周围的每个制作人。 “你是一只鲨鱼。”她指着一个人说道。 “你是个鲨鱼。”她对另一个人说。 “你是一只鲨鱼。”她一直顺着座位的顺序说道,直到我的时候,她稍微降低了声量然后说:“你更像一只海豚。”

众人顿时一阵狂笑。

在一群鲨鱼中被称为海豚并不是一种恭维,然而一番话似乎点通了我。我想她是对的,我确实比较像个海豚。
在一群鲨鱼中被称为海豚并不是一种恭维,然而一番话似乎点通了我。我想她是对的,我确实比较像个海豚。
我喜欢共赢,喜欢成为一个公平,富有同情心的人。我喜欢以创意且知性的角度去制作一个项目。
我是海豚 (Dolphin)。我有创意(Creative)。
合二为一,我就把我的公司命名为Dolphin Creative。

经过九个成功的年头,这个模式仍然有效。
如果你厌倦了与鲨鱼打交道,那就给我们打个电话吧!

Decades of creative management experience ensuring the latest in concept planning.

Everything you need to fulfill the marketing communication process. Our services can include:

  • Event brand guidelines
  • Event logo designs
  • Event site maps
  • Event programme guides (physical and mobile Apps)
  • Event merchandise
  • PR briefing documents on content
  • Social Media content

Our PR consultation services can work directly with local media, or happily partner with local PR companies to provide additional support along with PR and Editorial interview formats (for Print, TV, Radio and Online) In addition, Dolphin Creative has connections to provide international PR and marketing opportunities

The world’s largest agency for Street Arts ensuring the best choice of shows with experience in multi-platform schedule planning.

Our scheduling experience allows us to create a flow for an event from start to finish.
Schedules are an invaluable asset for creating the communication process between visitor and event, and can be designed to fill both physical space and time.

Whatever the scale of an event, Logistical and Technical management are at it’s core for a successful. Global experience, working with local suppliers, delivered with confidence.

Management responsibilities can include: site design and layout, power requirements, security, audio and visual, latrines, signage, information tents, production facilities, technical crew, public assistants, staging, F&B, and of course all Health and Safety requirements.

Our logistical team also manage the behind-the-scenes details including; transport management, accommodation management, tax and accounting systems, freight, visas, and licenses.

Decades of creative management experience ensuring the latest in concept planning.

Dolphin have a large range of games specifically designed for public events and festivals. The Giant Games are visual, enjoyable to play, and enjoyable to watch.

Games include: Giant Chess, Giant Jenga, Giant Buzzer Game, Giant ‘Connect 4’ and many more Dolphin also can produce a range of traditional side show stalls for guests to test their skills and win prizes

Children’s workshops add a learning and edutainment. Children can engage in activities to open their minds to the creative process, and workshops enable families to participate in fun activities together.
Dolphin has a wide range of different workshops for children of all ages.

We work with professional artists who can pass on their enthusiasm through specifically designed workshop programs.

  • Examples of our workshops include:
  • Music workshops
  • Puppet making workshops
  • Balloon animal workshops
  • Clay Making workshops
  • Circus Workshops

Dolphin Creative work with our partners to create decor and visual arts to integrate with festivals. Agents for the most creative talent; pushing the boundaries of space, art and visitor engagement.

From small licenced children’s productions to large scale West End extravaganzas: Dolphin has it covered. We have years of experience in producing staged shows whether it be for a public open stage, theatre, or large scale seated arena.

Dolphin has the global connections to source hundred’s of the top shows through our theatre agency, and specialists in Box Office management, ticketing, accounts, marketing, technical and logistics to assist you along the way.

Our creative team can curate the right shows for a festival theme; be it a puppet festival, a children’s edutainment festival, a storytelling festival or any number of of themes.

Dolphin Creative also has extensive experience in producing and staging Circus productions whether within theatres, or producing Big Top venues.

Global leaders in producing Street Theatre events with over 1,000 professional artists. In 2016, SuperStars of Street was created to showcase the very best artists for tours and special events around the world

Dolphin Creative are experts music production for festivals.

We help our clients navigate through the myriad of genres and options to select the acts that will enhance the uniqueness of the festival.

Dedicated specialist team programming the best of the global busking talent.

About Stuart Every

CEO and Founder Stuart Every has been a producer for 30 years. Since the age of 18 he has worked across multiple production genres including music, theatre, ballet, visual arts, and comedy. Stuart founded Dolphin Creative in 2009.

Dolphin Creative:
The story behind the company name

As told by Stuart
“One night in 2009, I was having dinner with some old friends from the UK. The guests were an eclectic group of theatre and circus producers, most of whom I’ve been friends with for many decades. The evening progressed and the conversation mingled with anecdotes, and stories of past productions, and future plans. After a while, one of my friend’s guests let out a huge a sigh of disbelief: “You’re such a bunch of sharks” she rued.

To that the whole table burst with a kind of prideful laughter. Producing theatre and entertainment is a risky business and not one for the feint hearted. She then stood up and pointed to each of the producers around the table. “You’re a shark” she said as pointed to one. “You’re a shark” she said to another. “You’re a shark” and so it went one in order around the table. Until she reached me. She lowered her voice slightly, and said: “you’re more like a Dolphin”

The table erupted with laughter.

Being called a Dolphin within a group of Sharks was not meant to be a compliment.
However, something instantly clicked inside my head. Yes, I thought. Yes, I suppose I am more of a Dolphin than a Shark.
I like doing business that benefits everyone. I like being fair and compassionate. I like producing with a creative and intellectual approach.
I am Dolphin. I am Creative.
I’ll name my company Dolphin Creative.

After 7 successful years; the formula is still working strong
If you’re tired of dealing with Sharks: give us a call