metropol » buskers

Tag: buskers

Juggling priorities


The first foot juggler to come out of New Zealand, Emma Phillips is an expert in twirling, whirling, and tossing umbrellas, carpets and even tables using nothing but her toes, arches and heels. A pandemic-induced return to New Zealand saw her settle in Christchurch, where she recently starred in the Bread and Circus Backyard Buskers Festival. Metropol catches up with the
talented performer.

 

Tables are Emma Phillips’ speciality. She juggles them with her feet, deftly kicking and spinning the large dining necessity in the air, while also tossing and whirling umbrellas in her hands.

Emma is the first known circus performer to come out of New Zealand specialising in foot juggling, and has gone on to blaze a trail in the esoteric art.

She is one of the only known Western artists to perform Chinese-style foot juggling in the world, and the first to combine umbrella and table juggling simultaneously.

A career which began, despite her Whangarei upbringing, in Christchurch. The now 30-year-old was introduced to the world of foot juggling while studying a Diploma in Circus Arts at Christchurch Polytech in 2008.

Inspired to take her foot juggling training to the next level, she then applied and was accepted to the Beijing Acrobatic Arts School and Wuqiao Acrobatic School in China.

“My real training didn’t really begin until I got to China,” she says. “And then I realised how hard it was!”

She was taught the traditional art of foot juggling “by China’s finest”. And while it remains her speciality, she is also trained in and regularly performs contortion and aerial hoop, too.

Emma started performing while studying, but it was after graduation that her CV really picks up. She has performed throughout China, Australia, Europe, Russia and the UAE, and most recently accepted a contract for the German and Austrian tours of Roncalli Circus Theatre.

Unfortunately, the contract which she says was “the biggest of my career” was thwarted by Covid-19.

On the night of the press premiere, the show was postponed for five weeks.

“I definitely considered staying in Germany,” she says.

But the opportunity to see her family in Christchurch won out. And the five weeks turned into the remainder of 2020 and, now, into 2021.

“I’m so glad I came home, spending the year with my family and my sister’s kids has been an absolute highlight,” she says.

A highlight the recent crowds at Bread and Circus Backyard Busker’s Festival can attest to, when Emma took her glamorous, vaudeville-styled performance to the streets.

“The New Regent Street Spectacular was amazing,” she says.

“It was such immersive street theatre with the opera singers and the musicians, and I was juggling a table in the middle of everyone!”

She also loved performing with the Topp Twins at the Isaac Theatre Royal gala, “which has always been one of my dream theatres to work in.”

Emma says her favourite part of the whole festival “was the community side of it” as she felt incredibly fortunate to be in one of the only performing festivals in the world.

For all the impacts of Covid-19, the fallout for the performing arts sector has been particularly harsh. So for 2021, Emma says she is trying to spin the lack of strict performance
schedule to further refine her craft.

“One thing I would like to do is have a little bit more fun with performance to just play and explore that creativity.”

 


 

Backyard buskers delight


International border closures have not dimmed the lights on Canterbury’s inimitable Bread & Circus Buskers Festival, which is this year celebrating talented performers from Aotearoa’s own backyard. Until January 31, the vibrant street festival will showcase more than 30 energetic artists and performers at venues across Christchurch.

 

The line-up includes award-winning comedians like The Topp Twins and Jarred Fell, cheeky host and acclaimed entertainer Rutene Spooner, cabaret superstar Nomi Cohen, and world-renowned clown Fraser Hooper.

Other acts include interactive shows like Blackboard Theatre’s musical quiz show, What the Quiz is this?!, The Biggest Little Circus, a five day workshop for aspiring teen buskers, and a busker-filled brewery tour.

Festival Director Scott Maidment says the 2021 lineup is a silver-lining to the disruption of Covid-19, as organisers can help locals rediscover the circus and musical talent here.

“The sheer breadth of artists available to us has meant that despite losing the ‘World’ in our title for 2021, we’ve not lost the ‘world-class’ from our programme.”

ChristchurchNZ General Manager Destination and Attraction, Loren Heaphy, says: “At a time when cities around the world are struggling to hold public events, Bread & Circus is an epic celebration of arts and culture, and we welcome Kiwis from across the country to Ōtautahi Christchurch to see what the fuss is about.”

Browse the programme and find showtimes or buy tickets at
www.breadandcircus.co.nz.


 

A grand palaver!


Local comedic favourite Shay Horay presents his latest busker’s baby – Palaver Grand. With a handful of showbiz buddies, in the style of Graham Norton, riotous banter and sparing of wit will entrap the audience in the Spiegeltent on 14 February. The two-hour show promises hearty belly laughs.

 

Photographer: DEAN MACKENZIE

 

It’s for one night only and it’s going to be one heck of a line-up,” he says.

Shay is best known at the World Buskers Festival as Rubber Band Boy and, in 2019, packed the house with busker show The Revolver Club.

He recently hosted his inaugural Palaver chat shows in Lyttleton’s intimate Wunderbar – delving into the minds of colourful kiwi celebrities, one on one. Peter Rowley, legendary funny man and co-writer/sidekick for the Billy T James Show, was one of his victims.

“Shay’s a great smooth-talking, cool, good-looking guy,” Peter says.

“The show was sensational. He delved into drawers from the back of my mind that I never knew existed!”

He will be under the microscope once more for Palaver Grand, uniting with an eclectic cast of four on the couch – in front of a much grander audience.

Other guests for the R18 show include favourite television host and comedian Dai Henwood, actor Jonny Brugh, aka Deacon the Vampire, of film What we do in the Shadows fame, and from Daredevil Chicken Club from USA – sensational improvisers and regular busker act. House band Lawrence Arabia will entertain.

“These are all people I’ve loved performing with in the past,” Shay says.

“Palaver means to talk unproductively at length – exactly like the open and free-flying nature of the show.

None of it is scripted, I just cut and edit a loose script as it goes on.

These are stories the audience wouldn’t normally get to hear – personal information and funny bits. And because it’s from the horse’s mouth, it must be true!”

As the Rubber Band Boy, Shay has smashed two Guinness World records for the most rubber bands strapped to a human face, and took the stretchy show to 30 countries.

He asked a plastic surgeon if it was OK.

“It was a great thing for my skin, he assured me, and would probably keep me looking younger!”

Hailing from Geraldine, he cut his comedic teeth at Burnside High School, where his parents sent their talented son to for the renowned drama department.

In 1996, while still a student, he hit busker bigtime.

Now a quarter of a century later, he’s just turned 40. “I’m over the hill now – so I’ve got to start ticking off all the boxes.”

He lives in Lyttelton with Riley the dog, who also has a few talented tricks.

Shay’s a wicket keeper for Heathcote Cricket Club, where he also volunteers.

Always having a side-splitting project on the go, he recently starred as butcher, florist and masseuse in NZ on Air shortlisted The Woolston Complex, filmed at The Tannery.

Aspiring to launch Palaver as a live-audience TV series, he loves the concept of a chat show.

“There’s nothing on TVNZ like it at the moment. It is closest in format to This Is Your Life”.

Except this show will be a grand palaver of life’s more funnier follies.


 

The Influencers: Paul Lonsdale


There is a lot happening in our city and one of the key things that differentiates us from the suburban shopping centres, aside from our unique retail and hospitality offer, is our ability to activate the streets with events, festivals, buskers and street performances.

 

Mainstreet Management Ltd Managing Director

We are seeing new businesses opening every day filling in the gaps and progress has now reached tipping point.

From 23 January to 16 February our central city streets will be full of colour and spectacle. Building upon 25 years of history, the Bread & Circus World Buskers Festival will garner our streets providing a platform for a diverse range of local, national and international performers.

This is an opportunity to experience some of the best street performances the world has to offer and to explore your new city. We are seeing new businesses opening every day filling in the gaps and progress has now reached tipping point.

There are a lot of myths about how much parking we have in the city but to help break that myth, I can tell you we have way more parking than pre-earthquake with over 15,000 parking spaces available… and access is easy. See you there.