Thursday, November 07, 2013

An Intern’s Trial by Stilts

For two weeks, Michael patiently taught my boyfriend Dave and I to stilt walk. To my surprise the distribution of weight and maneuvering of extra-long legs came quite easily to me. That might be attributed to the fact that I myself am quite a lanky individual and am used to dealing with awkwardly long limbs or maybe that I’ve had a number of years practice in climbing colleagues bodies and finding balance in precarious places. Either way, I have definitely, with the help of stilt guru Michael, discovered a skill I hope to develop and perfect.

The real test of my new-found abilities came on October 31st, when a team from Bond Street Theatre (Anna Zastrow, Josh Wynter, Elizabeth Frascoia, Marshall Nichols and Dave Southwood) strapped on their stilts and waved, walked and danced the length of 6th Avenue in the famous Village Halloween Parade, alongside the very impressive Le Velo Rouge (driven by Michael). After a number of pre-parade wobbles and close calls with photographers struggling to see through their view finders, I found my feet and couldn’t believe where I had found myself. 16,000km (or 10,000m) from my home in Sydney Australia, in one of the most iconic cities in the world, stilt-walking alongside some fantastic people I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with. Who would have thought?! The sheer size of the event was something I couldn’t quite get my head around. It wasn’t until we had a moment to stop and take a breather that Michael suggested to “Turn around!” and I was able to get a glimpse of the wonderful puppets, floats and swarms of parade-goers that followed. The city was illuminated, not with headlights of cars, and changing traffic lights, but a wonderful glow of creativity and celebration.

It was an incredible experience to witness the number of people who braved the cold and sprinkle of rain to cheer and bear witness to the wonders that passed them. People of all ages enjoyed the event from small children squishing their faces between the bars or held high on their parents’ shoulders, to elderly friends sitting comfortably in their wheelchairs sharing a laugh and a dance.

Halloween is not a widely celebrated occasion way down under in Australia. My one and only experience of Trick or Treating involved rolling around a neighbour’s garden in the dark, fearful of ‘eggers’ and teenagers with water bombs who made it their mission to ruin the fun of those in costume. You can imagine how interesting it was for me when shop fronts, restaurants, apartment blocks, buses and even dogs (or maybe really their owners) embraced Halloween.

I’ve been told and have read countless times that participating in the Halloween Parade is on the list of ‘Top 100 things you must do before you die’. I’ve got to say, that stilt walking the parade with Bond Street Theatre now stands at number 1.