Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Traditions Opening Weekend

Wow!  The St. Charles Christmas Traditions event was a truly indescribable experience.  I distributed over 1,000 cards over the course of the weekend, participating for a few hours each day until I ran out of cards to give away.  I cannot imagine how many 10s of 1,000s of cards each official performer must run through over the course of the entire event!  Although I would love to continue being involved, I will have to bow out due to my not being able to keep up with the demand in terms of time and monetary costs.  So I will not be participating outside of the opening weekend, except perhaps to enjoy the festival as an ordinary event-goer.

While participating on Saturday, an event coordinator requested I speak to the mounted police to determine who I was and why I was there.  I was informed that they screen the actors before the event and, though I was doing nothing wrong and they couldn't request me to leave, they would like to do a background check and wanted to remind me that it is a family-friendly event.

I have nothing to hide but must admit the interrogation was somewhat disconcerting, since I had engaged in the activity out of pure innocuous fun and it had never even occurred to me that anyone would do so with criminal intent.  (If anything, I would think that most people considering anything of the sort would do so as a means of self-promotion, but since I know my work runs the gamut and contains some adult content I had chosen to be entirely anonymous.)  The most intimidating and challenging thing was being surrounded by a horde of what must have been 50+ children seeking cards while I was talking to the mounted police.  If the event coordinators had wished to avoid causing a scene, they failed in an epic manner since the scene included a mounted officer, myself and a sea of kids.  (Sadly I don't have any photos.)

Regarding my performance - rather than boisterously taking on a character (acting is truly not my forte), I instead participated in a somewhat low-key manner by handing out cards to those who asked and politely greeting people on the street.  I openly told many passersby that I was actually an audience member and performance artist seeking to blur the distinctions between actor and audience.

The responses I got were really interesting.  Many audience-members just looked blankly at me as though they totally didn't understand.  Some were turned off by my participation and gave me the "stink eye" as though I was some sort of pervert or freak trying to hoodwink them by giving out "knockoff" cards.  Others embraced the idea, saying, "Way to go!," You rock!," "You totally fooled me..." and conversing with me further.  (I may have even inspired a few holiday party themes with my reappropriated tree skirt coat - encouraging hosts to invite guests to wear tree skirts instead of ugly sweaters...)

Anyway, as I'd mentioned, it was an interesting an incredible experience.  The holiday spirit is truly contagious even just as an ordinary event-goer, but even more so when performing and engaging with everyone directly.

No comments: