It was one of those calls that every event manager dreads. “Can you come immediately! I have an audience member who’s demanding to speak to the person in charge!”
As Andy walked through the festival his mind was racing to all the possible scenarios; what could have gone wrong, what did one of the artists say, could they have offended someone, could someone have got hurt?
It was a busy festival back in 2005, with over 50 international street shows in one of the iconic malls of Dubai. Outdoor roads were closed off and the crowds surged to 10,000’s a day. Everything was going well until the radio call.
Out of breath, Andy was directed to a small woman; a small boy by her side. She had tears in her eyes.
“Are you the manager of this festival? Are you responsible?”
Andy’s heartbeat started to spike as he nodded uncomfortably
“Our family arrived in Dubai 3 years ago escaping the conflict in Syria.”
“Our son has not spoken in 3 years. He never laughs”
Andy looked at the child. The child smiled back. The woman continued.
“Today he watched one of your shows and started laughing. He came to me shouting ‘Ma Ma, come see!”
By now the women’s tears were falling down her face
“I just wanted to find the person responsible and thank them. You have no idea how much this means to us”
The woman was crying, Andy was crying, everyone in earshot was crying.
To understand Street Theatre, one needs to go beyond the performance qualities, and understand the empathetic skills of the individual performers. During a show, there is nowhere to hide. The artist is engaging directly with the audience and taking them on a unique journey that will only happen at that present moment.
Artists train and hone their skills over years of dedicated passion for these moments.
This is Street Theatre.
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