For people who are fans of buskers, it’s time once again for the biggest outdoor festival, the World Buskers Festival in New Zealand. Most of the shows and activities will be in Christchurch. Hundreds of street performers from around the world will gather for the biggest annual fest, Bread & Circus 2019. Centered in Arts Centre te Matatiki Toi Ora in the South Island’s biggest city, the fest runs from January 10 to February 3, 2019. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the festival, and the event organizers promise that it will be more than double the length of the previous years (close to one month, compared to the previous 10-day event), with more award-winning shows and a variety of free shows for the public.
Managing the event this year is Strut & Fret, an Australian company that has staged many successful events worldwide through the years, including the Rebel Heart tour of Madonna.
While the festival will retain the heart and soul that people have loved through the years, the organizers will be adding more twists and bigger spectacles to attract more audiences and gain more revenue.
Christchurch’s World Buskers Festival
It is the most loved and awaited festival in New Zealand, where 40 plus artists from different parts of the world gather to bring fun, laughter, pandemonium and chaos for the appreciative public.
Performers often come from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Brazil, the United States and Canada. The Botanic Garden, the Arts Center, Cathedral Square, the City Mall and several streets around the Christchurch Central Business District have become the venues for the fun and entertaining shows from 12 noon until 7 in the evening. Great for the whole family, spectators will be treated to acrobatics, fire stunts, hula-hoops, music, breakdancing and other acts. Day shows are staged daily, while the night shows are available from Friday until Sunday.
The more adult comedy shows, the Fire Show and other ticketed events are staged inside selected venues for mature audiences.
This year will have 527 performances. Twenty-nine buskers will stage free performances on the streets, which is double the number of buskers who performed last year.
The World Buskers Festival requires the audience to have a huge sense of humor, not only because of the humorous theme of the shows, but in some of the shows, performers get volunteers from the audience without warning.
Spectators should bring plenty of loose change, as the buskers are not paid. They rely only on the donations from the audience.
World Buskers Festival – the beginning
The idea for the World Buskers Festival came from a group of street performers from New Zealand. They complained about being excluded from other festivals in Christchurch. They said they wanted an event where they could be featured. The idea of having another international festival for street performers was hatched by the director of The Festival of Romance, Jodi Wright and the past mayor of Christchurch, Vicki Buck. In 1994, the World Buskers Festival was born.
Through the years, the international festival grew in attendance and in the number of participants. New Zealand has played host to more than 1,000 different international performers for 24 years. The types of events have evolved as well. The evening shows grew from stand-up comedy to more variety and fringe shows for the entire night.
What exactly is busking?
Busking is a street performance, where the buskers, or performers, perform in public places for donations or gratuities. In most places around the world, buskers are rewarded money for their performance, while in some places, gifts, drinks and food are given.
Busking is an ancient type of entertainment and practiced in many parts of the world. The types of performances vary, as long as they are entertaining. The buskers may do the following:
- Sword swallowing
- Street theater
- Painting and sketching
- Musical performance
- Living statue
- Reciting poetry
- Snake charming
- Fortune telling
- Flea circus
- Fire skills
- Balloon twisting
- Animal tricks
The first record of the term busking being used was in the mid-1860s in England. The origin was buscar, which is a Spanish word that means to seek. On the other hand, the Spanish term originated from bhudh-skō, meaning to conquer or win, which came from the Indo European language.
In ancient times, busking was a common way to earn money. It became a form of employment for many aspiring artists and performers before the establishment of music and entertainment production. In the old days, the most common instrument used by buskers was the organ grinder.
Busking was somehow associated with Romani people because they used to stage performances such as singing, dancing, reciting folklore, prose, poetry and fortune telling as they travelled around Europe.
Many names and styles of busking
During the medieval times in France, the buskers were called jongleurs or troubadours. In northern France, the buskers are called trouveres. In Russia, they are called skomorokh and they have been around since the 11th century. In old German, the buskers were called Spielleute or Minnesingers,
Although there are many groups of buskers, other musicians also do their own versions of busking, such as the mariachis of Mexico, who sometimes perform in bars, restaurants, plazas and streets.
Chindonya is the Japanese version of buskers, often used for advertising, that were seen around Japan in the mid-19th century. During the Edo period, there was a Japanese street performance called the Nankin Tamasudare. The performer, with the help of a bamboo mat, created large figures for entertainment.
During the 19th century, traveling potion and elixir vendors in the United States staged medicine shows, using buskers for entertainment. The potions and elixirs were purportedly for health improvement. So performers helped the potential buyers feel better, so people associated the products with the feelings of wellness. The buskers would then ”pass the hat” among the people gathered after their performances.
For a time, one-man bands became a trend for buskers. They were solo performers using several instruments, including a tambourine, drum, harmonica and guitar. In later years, mime became one of the common busking performances.
Is mime language universal?
Mime is a universal art. It is comprised of easily recognizable acting through gestures, with no language barriers to cross. While it does not require spoken language, it is comprehensible to every person who sees it, without any risk of misunderstanding and mistranslation.
A mime performance is a dramatic expression that is part art and part definition of a person or an inanimate object. It can express the most hidden or deepest feeling in a stylized way.
Viewing it in this context, you can say that mime is a universal language. Of course, the component parts of the show are based on gestures familiar to a specific culture.
How can you translate humor?
Humor is one of the most difficult projects to translate. One of the constraints in humor translation or humor interpreting is the cultural differences, as something funny in one culture may not be funny, let alone understood by another.
The funny element in humor is a complex mix of linguistic and cultural references, including places and things, local persons, taboos and customs using codes, jargon and idioms that are unique to the locality.
When trying to translate humor, it is vital to hold fast to the message of the literal content while using a bit of artistic license to ensure that the desired effect for the target audience will be achieved.
It does not need much adaptation if you are translating universal humor that is recognized by many cultures, such as facial expressions and gestures that even make babies smile.
However, if the jokes and puns are cultural, it is important for the translator to find the most appropriate equivalent. At times, the artistic license and creativity of the translator extends to transcreation instead of just translation. In transcreation, the content will be linguistically and culturally adapted, making the content an original and fresh version.
It may take four people to translate humor: a native speaker, an expert in the source language, an expert in the target language, and native speaker of the target language.
Translating for entertainment purposes
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