Anyone who has ever stepped foot onto a busy city street knows how hectic and madcap such a location can be. Every day in places like Manhattan—the heart of New York City—there are a great many people hustling and bustling to make meetings and meet friends or to finally get home and have some time to relax. To most people who live in such busy locations the streets are simply a means of getting from one place to another yet, for some people, the streets offer an opportunity to make a living.
Anyone who has ever been to New York City—especially Times Square—has undoubtedly seen their fair share of street performers. Street performers describe people who earn their living by entertaining crowds in some way. Jugglers, acrobats, and musicians are popular forms of entertainment that street performers use to amuse people and subsequently draw a crowd (and get the tips that make up a days wages). Yet one of the more elaborate and delightful forms of street performers are known as “Living Statues.”
Living statues are street performers who dress in elaborate or ornate costumes and amuse crowds by interacting with them while pretending to be a statue or some other kind of object—like a tree or a mermaid. Most living statues dress in costumes that resemble real-life statues. For example, some living statues dress in Roman-style clothes and paint their bodies white in order to resemble marble statues. Other performers will dress in more modern style clothing but paint their entire bodies silver or gold/copper to resemble more modern-day metal statues. In New York, living statues frequently dress a la the Statue of Liberty. Some living statues look so much like actual statues that they surprise passerby’s when they move!
Living statues are generally well received among crowds because the costumes usually take a lot of time to create and thus have a very impressive visual effect. Being a living statue is hard work and requires the performers to stand in one (or limited) positions for long periods of time—sometimes in excess of six to eight hours! Yet the profession is gaining popularity and even has contests and championships! “The World Championship of Living Statues” is held annually in the Netherlands. In 2011, the event attracted approximately 3000,000 visitors and 300 living statues! Buenos Aires, Argentina, has hosted a similar event every year since 2000. Even famous artists have started using the concept of living statues to promote performance art (see video).
Although being a living statue is not a career choice that most children aspire to, it is still an interesting art form that illustrates how theatrical concepts can be incorporated onto even the busiest of city streets. If your children are starting to learn about theater and the performing arts then interacting with a living statue might prove to be a very eye-opening and enjoyable experience.