Street fest pumps to busker beat

A grow­ing fes­ti­val draws per­form­ers from around the world to this eclec­tic West Aus­tralian city, writes Sarah Ni­chol­son

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - Vibrant Fremantle -

FRE­MAN­TLE, the bo­hemian city just out­side Perth, is pul­sat­ing with Easter ac­tiv­ity as peo­ple ar­rive from far and wide to en­joy the sun­shine by the In­dian Ocean.

Ta­bles at the restau­rants on the Cap­puc­cino Strip are oc­cu­pied; the aisles at Fre­man­tle Mar­ket are flooded with shop­pers search­ing for a quirky sou­venir; there isn’t a space near the front bar at the Sail & An­chor; and rugs car­pet the grass in The Es­planade parks in prepa­ra­tion for pic­nics.

Most of the peo­ple in town on this Easter long week­end are here for the an­nual Fre­man­tle Street Arts Fes­ti­val, a three-day event that draws buskers from around the world, and there are per­for­mances hap­pen­ing all af­ter­noon on the 10 pitches’’ dot­ted around the streets.

Crowds gather at the makeshift stages – there’s one by the mar­ket’s side en­trance and an­other at Vic­to­ria Quay; three more are scat­tered along South Tce; one is set un­der the Nor­folk pines in Es­planade Park and an­other sits near the restau­rants on Fish­ing Boat Har­bour – with per­form­ers do­ing their thing in the cen­tre of each cu­ri­ous cir­cle.

A woman in red spins hula-hoops at the top end of Es­sex St; a pair of rau­cous Amer­i­cans draw in­spi­ra­tion from the au­di­ence in a pedes­trian lane; an en­sem­ble is belt­ing out wild African beats in front of the Cap­puc­cino Strip cafes; and an army of pink peo­ple have in­vaded Lit­tle Crea­tures brew­ery.

A lad us­ing rub­ber bands to re­shape his face is en­ter­tain­ing the folks feast­ing on fish and chips at Cicerello’s; an Ar­gen­tinean per­former dressed in a black suit is in the park; and a sar­cas­tic ac­ro­bat is do­ing tricks with a lad­der and a be­mused by­stander out the front of the juice bar on South Tce.

This year’s Fre­man­tle Street Arts Fes­ti­val is on from March 30 to April 1. But don’t ex­pect to see the rub­ber-band boy from New Zealand, the pink peo­ple from Slove­nia, the woman in the red leo­tard from the UK, or the mod­ern-day clown from Spain.

We try not to get the same acts back year af­ter year be­cause it’s im­por­tant to keep push­ing the bound­aries,’’ fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Alex Mar­shall says.

In 2013, we cel­e­brate the 15th an­niver­sary of the event that started out as the Fre­man­tle Buskers Fes­ti­val, but we changed the name to the Fre­man­tle Street Arts Fes­ti­val a few years back and I think it started grow­ing into that new name in 2012,’’ Mar­shall says.

We changed the name be­cause we wanted to broaden the scope of what the au­di­ence un­der­stands to be street the­atre, be­cause there’s so much more out there than just buskers, and in 2013 we will have ev­ery­thing from com­edy and cir­cus acts to ac­ro­bats and cabaret.

We have one foot planted firmly in where we come from and we’re

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