Treasure hunting on the streets of Sydney

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Puma Social

Finale

Street performers are transforming Sydney’s hidden parks.

Sydney’s Inner West. Stomping ground for all the city’s freaks, geeks and heroin chic. So why not make theatrical displays official with a series of shows called ‘Micro Parks’, performed in the tiny green spaces of Newtown and Erskineville.

First challenge, can I actually find them? It’s a theatre treasure hunt that has me hanging out on street corners, the edges of train lines and poking my nose down narrow, suburban streets.

Stop one is Benched set on, you guessed it, a park bench. The clipped, neat lawn and graffitied walls, with trains whipping past in the background make for a surreal theatre setting. Performers Martin del Amo and Julie-Anne Long have turned their dance partnership into a trio, the bench acting as mediator and stage. Along with some strains of classic Italian film, inspiration for the piece was apparently taken from “a series of sitting positions observed on TV, during sporting games, courtroom dramas and talk shows.”

Heading towards Erskineville train station I find a gathering of people waiting for the show to start. But their sea of faces are what separate performers Jess Olivieri and the Parachutes for Ladies from one another, in a piece titled I am an Island. Siren singing begins, and it won’t take long for the three lovely ladies to find one another.

But the reunion was short lived, and soon the hipster mermaids melted away. So it was off to the Wabi-Sabi Afternoon Tea, just a few blocks away. It turns out tea-drinking and biscuit-eating make for the perfect spot to spy on fellow underground theatregoers.

The adventure closed with a more literal treasure hunt. Kate Mitchell wanted to give us Some Extra Luck with her artwork in which she’s planted a handful of lucky four-leaf clovers in a patch of ordinary ones.

Here’s to getting lucky in 2013.

Puma Social, January 2013.