The word on the street is that over the past few years tourist numbers to Stratford-upon-Avon have grown. If this is true I can only assume that the more visitors we get in Stratford then the less money they spend. Otherwise, why else would there be so many empty shops and according to the press, more to come? Someone somewhere, I’m afraid, in an effort to make us feel better about the town’s economy, is telling porkies. However, putting that to one side for a moment, let me refer to something that is definitely, increasing. Street Entertainment.
The humble Busker.
Over the past few years there had been a growth in the numbers of ‘entertainers’ on Stratford’s narrow by-ways. Some talented, most not. The noise levels have increased with the advent of battery-driven amplifiers that are constantlyreminding us what a golden age the 60’s was for music. But not only that…
If I hear Nessun Dorma one more time or another selection from Lloyd-Webber musicals (I use that term loosely), I shall scream and get down on my knees to pray for a return of the Morris Dancers that jingled and jangled on the pavements before the plaque wiped them all out a few years ago. I refer of course to that larger young gentleman who stands opposite the Garrick on a Saturday morning, and with the aid of a microphone, shouts.
[It always amazes me, that the British General Public go misty eyed at the sound of popular opera and bear no resentment to the fact that they are not allowed into the bigger opera houses to watch the real thing. It’s almost as though they know their place].
Anyway, it is the most recent addition to this so-called street entertainment that causes me the most concern. I worry about the proliferation of the ‘Living Statue’.
The ‘Living Statue’ requires no perceivable talent at all. Unless of course one considers the ability to stand still and not require the lavatory for long periods of time, a talent. What is required however is what appears a small monetary lay-out. There’s make-up to buy, how much depending on what character one chooses to ‘play’. Some rapidly hardening paint, hard enough to render the costume as much like stone as possible. Possibly a sword (character-led) but most definitely a box to stand on. And that’s it. From my own observations it would seem that out of all the street entertainment in Stratford-upon-Avon, the ‘living statue’ is the most lucrative.
So impressed am I at this lazy way of raking in the cash from gullible citizens, I myself have formulated a plan to improve upon it. A fool safe way of relieving the Great British Public of even more of their hard earned cash.
It took much thought and was not without its failures. My first idea was to replace my ‘living statue’ with a dummy. Simple enough I thought. Why had no-one thought of this before I asked myself? The answer of course was obvious. There would probably be a good chance of fisticuffs at the end of the day especially when it came to clearing the er…’performance area’. Spotted by your ‘supporters’ and you could guarantee that most of your audience would want their money back by fair means or foul.
But then…it came to me.
My ‘living statue’ would be a portrayal of The Invisible man. All it would require would be the box and a sign stating identifying what the audience was looking at i.e.…’The Invisible Man’.
That, and a large hat to receive the never-ending contributions from an adoring public.