Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Street theatre politics

I’ve posted a piece over on RAGEBOT - Rage in a Cage – the latest foray into political street theatre by my brother Robin. Robin is inclined to civil disobedience to make a point, but is finding some strategic dressing up far more effective.

The Convict echoed cages erected to block pedestrian access to street crossings. We didn’t get the media we were seeking with this one, but the cages were removed within a week.

The other two efforts pictured here where Robin’s comment on our recent federal elections. Each costume selected has some sort of historical relevance to our region. Port Macquarie NSW, for instance, was a convict settlement.

The first, in his long johns, was a slap at the government taking our shirts. He’s pictured with a statue our first Prime Minister, a drunken sot who was probably shirtless on many occasions.

The second, the undertaker, was in relation to the death of our hospital system in this country under the Howard government. We had originally planned on engaging some nurses in skimpy outfits and an assault on our local, understaffed, emergency section.


Each of these approaches has made an impression, either on the media or the real target. The approach not only assuages Robin’s anger on various issues; while bordering on civil disobedience the underlying humour is actually very powerful.

Robin didn’t come to this out of the blue. Over many years he’s used a clown (Catweasle), not a terribly sympathetic clown, but effective as a marketing tool. He’s also dressed up as an eagle for a pizza place, a penguin for a radio station and a dog for a TV channel, among others.

10 comments:

D.K. Raed said...

Great pix! And good result to have the cages removed so soon. Media would've been nice, but I suspect word-of-mouth got the job done.

Your bro has a gift for the visual. What do the arrows on the "convict" outfit mean. To me, it looks more like a kitchen worker's whites, but I guess that involves some history unique to your area.

ps, what do eagles have to do with pizza?

Cart said...

Henry Sidney, Earl of Romney, Master of Ordnance to William and Mary (17th century), was asked to mark all government property to reduce theft. He chose to use his family emblem which is a broad arrow, or Pheon, and this is still in use today by the UK government 300 years later.
I lived in Tasmania for many years and it was common to find fired bricks with either the arrow of the convict makers thumb print impressed in it.
The outfit Robin was wearing had a few problems, not the least for him was short sleeves. Never see him in short sleeves. But it is a tourist item from nearby Norfolk Island, and early convict settlement.
The eagle, well if I had explained it was Eagle Boys Pizza - Aussie Eagle might seem more relevant.

Kvatch said...

That's a damn fine representation of an undertaker. :-)

Not his chosen career I take it? Having been to the more tropical sections of Australia's coast, I don't think those duds would be very comfortable.

Cart said...

He didn't think they wee very comfortable,but that's what they wore. I had a grandfather who used to fight bush fires dressed almost like that.
Robin thinks a plentiful supply of OP rum secreted in the folds would make the outfit easier to wear ;)

D.K. Raed said...

wait a minute ... Earl of ROMNEY ??? I wonder if Mitt knows anything about this. He would certainly crack down on any rum secreted in undertaker's clothing, that's for sure. Ahhh well, if the Aussie branch of the Romney family goes back to the 1700's, they are pre-mormon, so probably not all bad, even with their penchant for thick arrows pointing up a convict's pant legs toward his crotch & beyond.

Cart said...

Sorry about the Romney, the name didn't twig. If they actually came here they were probably be wearing broad arrows.
Robin enjoys a good OP rum. I can't be in the same room room with it. But the old undertaker was partial to it as well.
I won't go into the crotch bit, but the bro doesn't think he would qualify being a male over 14. His comment, not mine :)

D.K. Raed said...

OK, I profess ignorance on why being over 14 means you don't qualify for a crotch joke. Aren't they rather timeless? I'm sure I've seen some on those Lascaux cave walls.

And I must note while the arrows on the pants point toward the crotch, the arrows on the shirts point toward the neck. maybe these are target points, you know, like for firing squads? isn't it ironic that these arrows were meant to reduce theft of govt property, and now they are a hot tourist item?

Cart said...

d.k. first up we are antipodeans. The vision of the Mormon thing is a bit jaundiced here with some of us.
We see blokes collecting young girls like Aussie blokes collect muscle cars. Can't have too many of them...
Some of us have other pursuits beyond simply collecting. If that makes sense.
One woman is pretty bloody close to a wonderful surfeit. You don't need a collection.
The significance of the arrows, i shamefully admit, never entered my mind before. We just grew up with that image.
But I agree about the fact that a convict outfit could be turned into jimmy jams - so to speak.

D.K. Raed said...

don't tell me you got momo missionaries over there, too. is no place sacred? but, polygamy is not part of the mormon religion for over 100-yrs now, so I don't know why you would be seeing it practiced by any mormons there. we do have isolated pockets of polyg morms here, not LDS but FLDS. They are nuts who follow some prophet. They live in close-knit communities along the Utah-Arizona border. I have the "pleasure" of seeing them shopping at Wal-Mart and Costco. They don't have more than one legal wife, but let me assure you it is not a collection, it is more like mind-control slavery. Sorry, I seem to have drifted very far from your original subject.

Cart said...

I have some wonderful stories of those missionaries here in Aust and in Canada. Well not so much the latter because it seems like I have a major momo beware sign hovering over me since I confronted a couple of dumb bastards who approached me on a busy friday afternoon when I'd finally found a parking meter and was trying to scratch up the change.
I believe my eff-off was heard around the globe, I wasn't happy.
But they upset my ex some years earlier, a couple of gel momos. Allowed into the house and getting a hard time one turned to me sweetly and said; "I love you Dennis..." She was out the door in about two seconds.
But its no diversion, just the theatre of life. If you don't live it and play it then there isn't much else.