STILTS ALL IN A DAY’S WALK
EVERYONE crosses their fingers for good weather sometimes, but for safety reasons it is even more vital when you are walking on stilts as a gigantic roving bird.
Such is the life of performer Eefje de Groot, who controls one of Dutch street theatre company Close Act’s BirdMen, which will roam the streets of Fremantle on the Easter long weekend for the 20th Fremantle International Street Arts Festival.
With a background in dance, de Groot has worked for Close Act for 14 years on performances designed for urban public areas, controlling a dinosaur in Saurus before transferring to these prehistoric bird-like creatures.
“We were performing once during a big storm and the wind blew me over,” de Groot said. “Those conditions and heavy rain or snow aren’t very good but that won’t be a problem here.”
Made from a variety of materials including fibreglass, metal and fabric, the bird costumes are moved by the performer’s body, bringing the bird to life as if it was a real animal.
De Groot said as much as the experience was surprising for people, it was also unpredictable for the performers.
“You need to look out for bottles or cans so you don’t trip over,” she said.
“And people are unpredictable because children run around or people can get drunk and it can get a bit risky for us.”
BirdMen will perform as part of an extensive program that combines buskers, street theatre, bands, local pop-up bars and eateries. Festival goers can see them each afternoon and on Saturday and Sunday evening, where the creatures light up after dark.
“It’s an act where you have to use your imagination because it’s not like anything you’ve seen before,” de Groot said.
Times and places can be found at www.streetartsfestival.com.au.
The Fremantle International Street Arts Festival is on the streets of Fremantle, March 30 to April 2. Entry is free
BirdMen will take to the streets of Fremantle.