The things we get asked to do at Natural Theatre! For several years now we have been helping a south London borough with their environmental campaigns. They choose a theme and we devise an imaginative way of getting the message over by means of street theatre infiltrations.
Anti-takeaway litter was easy. We ‘borrowed’ a load of chip trays, burger wrappers and the like (unused) and dressed as our famous Pigeon Poo People. These are half bird half human characters in suits covered in droppings who perch on park benches and try to pinch people’s sandwiches. We simply adapted them to be terribly interested in food-related litter with hilarious results.
Next up was Anti-Chewing Gum Litter Day. We commandeered an old fashioned tea trolley on which was arranged a pseudo-scientific study of fake examples of different chewing gum deposits observed in the neighbourhood. People seemed to find it genuinely fascinating!
The borough’s campaign against dog fouling was more elaborate. We constructed a roll-out zebra crossing on which was strategically placed a selection of plastic dog mucks in all shapes and colours. Shoppers were invited to play hop-scotch along the crossing. On traversing this obstacle course they were met with a glamorous council assistant who distributed goody bags (doggy bags?) containing information on dog transferable diseases. The piece de resistance was a huge resin doggy-do manufactured by the boffins in our workshops!
The performers reported back that although they met many vociferous opponents of dog litter, they met no-one who admitted failing to pick up behind their pooch.
Our latest foray into the mean streets was again part of the war against chewing gum on the pavement. Maybe the first campaign failed? We produced a team of odd-balls who all claimed to have had a gum-related accident. These angry protestors, one of whom sported a classic false broken leg plaster, carried placards on which wayward chewers could stick their gum. The ‘Stick it Here!’ campaign went well, and was enhanced by a giant lump of chewed gum once again produced by our props department.
All these and many more wondrous objects can be seen in my Easter Monday backstage tours at Naturals HQ. Full details are in the Bath Comedy Festival brochure. www.bathcomedy.com