Our Artist Spotlight blogs are a weekly feature where we focus on one of our performers, giving you the chance to find out more about the people behind the performances, and offering an insight into the world of entertainment.
I’m officially unsuitable for normal work. I had a proper job for a few years in a theatre and would get so bored that I perfected the art of sitting at a desk asleep with a mouse in my hand ready to spring into action should anyone by chance come into the office (which rarely happened).
“I opted to make a living out of doing nothing so packed my bags and headed to London to become a busking Human Statue and the Hedge Men were a natural extension of that”
I learned everything I know on the street in covent Garden as a busker. I did some drama training but I didn’t train at all in mime or street performance.
“I always say the street is the best learning ground for this sort of work because if you’re no good nobody gives you money. Money is a great incentive to get better at what you do – the more you perform, the better you get and the more money you make.”
I’ve worked in theaters and with all sorts of artists and I can honestly say that some of the most talented and gifted performers I’ve ever known are street performers The nature of their art makes them so precise yet be able to appear spontaneous which vitally is important for a crowd.
The Hedge man have met many celebs, including Royalty!
The events industry is often indoors so it can be much warmer than performing on the street. Plus you get to go to some fabulously exotic places and encounter wonderfully daft situations. “We always laugh about how we don’t know what is going to come next”
I remember once missing my connecting train back from a gig somewhere and having to sleep rough in a freezing Stevenage train station, a few days later I was sipping cocktails after a job on Miami Beach. I don’t think you can get two more opposite situations.
If I had to give a piece of advice to somebody who wanted to get into my line of work, I would be: don’t copy anyone and don’t do it if you don’t enjoy it. Audiences are very savvy and if you’re having a miserable time they’ll pick up on that and they won’t like it. My best event for Contraband was when The Hedge Man did a funny mini music festival at a shopping centre in Farnborough last year. We were up to our normal antics whilst one of the bands was playing and amongst the crowd we noticed a few (ahem) slightly too mature ladies in hot pants twerking and waving their bits about.
We imitated their wobbling’s in what we thought was an amusing manner before one of the singers on stage leapt off to grab us and take us up on stage. On closer inspection it turned out the band were two members of 90’s heartthrobs East 17 and we had been twerking with their hard core supporters.
“When a thousand of them rushed at us for photos the Wembley security guards had a little panic and we were ushered out of the stadium and received a severe ticking off – it was worth it though”. My worst experience was being called a loser by a kid!
We like slapstick, especially the old stuff like Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd and Chaplin. All those movies are a guidebook for mime and comedy. I love the big street thatre companies like Royal de Luxe, Plasticiens Volant’s, Compagnie Off and a hundred others. They show us that anything is possible and that the street can be as great a stage as any theatre of opera house.
It’s very tricky to have a family or social life around what we do. It’s hard to make plans because a gig comes in and you’re off. I think I have to learn to say “no” more often as being away all the time can be a big strain on the personal life.
I’d do away with all late payers and cheap agents. Some people expect us to work for nothing in return for “exposure” which always receives a solid F.O. If we needed exposure they wouldn’t have been able to find us in the first place.
“contraband is always lovely though and pays very well and on time (just covering my back here)”.
I’d love to do more walkabout acts,The Hedge Man are so fun to perform and we’ve built some really fun and cheeky characters with them. I’d like to grow them into one of a collection of monsters and beasties that visit events and cause a bit of chaos. Hopefully I’ll get the time to actually create them rather than just dream endlessly about it.
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