Stirling Times - - What’s On - Tanya MacNaughton

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.stree­tarts­fes­ti­

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.

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