Originally Posted (to the Old SB): Tue Oct 05, 2004 4:35 pm
cross-posted there from the brigade forum.......
Living Statue 101
How To Stand Still and Move People
By amanda palmer, age 28
Human Statues have a long history in the european street theater tradition. In paris you can see human statues in many a park and garden, busking for money in monochrome hues with physical patience and control that rivals most yogis or althletes. The costume is 90% of the battle, the physical control the icing on the cake. I've seen everything from people painted completely gold in intricate costumes that must have cost thousands of dollar to terrible clown-looking losers dressed in dumb costumes with their faces painted a half-hearted blue.
These statues sometimes do nothing when given money...or they come to life and do any of a number of things: give away flowers or candy, blow kisses or bubbles, change poses, wink, glance away, fold origami, etc...
I've found subtle things take on a much larger meaning when coming from a statue.
Getting on google and putting in “living statue/s” or thereabouts will yield some cool photos of people who do this professionally.
1. Choose a Costume/Character
This is the hardest part, but it's easy and fun especially if you're creative and/or wrong in the head. Anything goes and your character/statue doesn't have to be anything or anyone specific. But go crazy. Make up a “realistic”
bronze or white statue (a la something you would see in a park or museum) or come up with something fully fantastic. Monochrome is very helpful (all gold, all white, all blue) and metallic is great. The less skin you have to paint the easier the make-up job and quicker the clean-up. Things to use as props: wings, broken umbrellas, boas, fans, bottles, scales, swords, strips of material, books, flowers, vines, clocks etc etc etc
Did I mention I am fucking crazy about parasols? Don't know why, but they drive me up the wall.
2. Get Your Shit Together
Sometimes just going randomly shopping will inspire the costume and character (and the action). Yard sales and thrift shops and antique shops are best...you'll be bound to find something odd that will spark you...other helpful places for props are home depot (awesome for mechanical-looking things) and fabric & craft stores like jo-ann fabric. They tend to have weird shit and cloth and and armature wire, which is all really helpful for creating things from scratch.
3. Choose an action
When the statue comes to life, it needs to give something away. This something doesn't have to be tangible, it can be as simple as a kiss or a glance, but it needs to be meaningful and it needs to be a moment in which you connect with the human being in front of you and look them in the eye and tell them silently that the world is beautiful and absurd and full of love despite the chaotic fucked up nature of suffering and everyday life. If you have a talent, use it. Blowing bubbles, origami is great if you can fold it, small flowers are wonderful, coins, keys, notes wrapped up in ribbon with nonsensical quotes from your favortie author....it doesn't matter. We have a friend in harvard square who sings opera. Give away nails. Rivets. Anything. Or don't, Or just dust the person with foot powder.
4. Make up
Yes, this is essential. Makeup provides the artifice which is key to this art form. If using a white or non-metallic color, I suggest using waterbased cake-makeup as opposed to oilbased. If you use oil, dust it with a finishing powder so it doesn't smudge. Dark colors don't work as well as light unless your costume is very specifically geared towards that. White works best, silver second. Metallics can be bought in a bottle or a cake for use with a sponge and a little goes a very very long way. Anyone working in a costume shop should be able to advise you. All costume shops carry makeup lines like mehron and jack stein, just look up costume in the yellow pages and go.
Make sure that your eyes stand out, you may want to line them in black with a regular eyeliner so they don't get lost. Adding extra make-up (like lipstick or rouge, etc) ontop of your solid base may be unnecessary, but keep in minimal unless the makeup IS an essential part of the costume. Hair is always a problem. What to do?
Hats and wigs work best. Natural hair can spoil the look. Sometimes a headwrap (ie for a greco-roman statue) can look good.
5. Find an Accomplice/Assistant
This is also really important. Not only is it lonely to do this by yourself, it's a pain in the ass. You need someone to help you pin that dead roadkill possum to your back! Teaming up and helping each other with costumes and makeup is best, or if you have a friend who is shy but very artistically inclined, keep your costume simple and your body very bare and offer yourself up as a canvas. The painting of your body (bring a dropcloth and towels so the club doesn't get pissed - or do it outside) can be a performance in itself. If you're comfy enough in your own skin, invite the audience to paint you. All you need is simple body paint, also known as liquid makeup (attainable at said costume shop) and brushes.
Statues mustnt stand alone, a concept using two or three or more people can look stunning if it's really well executed. I saw an awesome group statue in new orleans...about six people posing as an alien nuclear family, with children and those bugged out alien eyes. It was brilliant.
4. Be High
It's essential that you find some sort of chair or pedestal or footstool or ledge to stand on. It just does not work to do this standing on the ground. Bring what you can carry or scope the club beforehand and see if there's a spot that's viable, sometimes there's a box just waiting to be stood upon.
We saw the lovely liz in chicago perform a lying statue (vomiting small babies!) Which worked well, just make sure you carve out your own space and aren't getting trampled.
By the way, don't feel like you need to stick to any of this. This was written to inspire you. There were some beautiful people who showed up in seattle to be statues but ended up doing bizarre interpretive dancing against a fence in the bar. Fucking awesome.