Well, it seems that over night, some attempt at anarchistic spray-painted sloganeering damaged our friend the Block. These hooded hoodlums couldn’t even come up with their own slogan and instead ended up only quoting one of Banksy’s.
Regardless, this poor attempt at spoiling fun for others coincided with a new version of the Rubix Cube. Over the last week, a number of local textile based community arts groups having been knitting and crocheting away various coloured squares. The reason…?
At 1pm this afternoon, the Shifters covered the block up with a black fitted, cotton coat. The Shifters, I have found out is the name for the men/performers in the workcoats. They’re a comical bunch and remind me somewhat of the kind of characters you’d find in a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film.
Regardless, the black coat was covered with velcro and the Shifters proceeded to attach the fabric squares to the cube. Each square had attached to it a tag with the makers name.
It turns out they were a couple of squares down and so the puzzle ended up taking a lot longer that it should. After numerous attempts, with an audience made up of local shoppers and people who’d come all the way from Mind the Gap in Bradford, they called it a day and packed up ready for the next performance.
As I sat and had a cuppa in the cafe, I watch a new group of folk turn the cube into a theatre set. The back of the cube was turned into a cottage and the front into the Emerald City. Suddenly, a gaggle of actors and actresses descended onto the cube dressed as various characters from The Wizard of Oz.
As Dorothy tried to not let Barnsley’s sudden gale force wind blow her gingham dress over her head, passers by stopped to see why suddenly, fifty or so people bellowed out the lines to We’re Off to See The Wizard. It was well acted and very funny; however, I definitely don’t remember the Scarecrow greeting the Tin Man with an ‘aye-up.’
My highlight was after Dorothy was reunited with Aunt Em; following a hug from her missed Aunt, she turned to the audience and said ‘I don’t believe her. She’s going to crack me one when you lot’s gone.’ Brilliant.
The street theatre group was called May Contain Nuts and is based at Mind in Barnsley. Mick who is a Senior Mental Health Worker there said, ‘we set up a couple of years ago. Since then, we have done a couple of productions at The Civic’s theatre, Kendray Hospital and Moorland Court. It really is a fantastic medium to help people recover from mental health problems.’
I asked if they were one of the groups that had known about the Block before hand. ‘Yes. We had known about it for just a couple of weeks. That helped us get a performance ready and rehearse.’
Mick runs both formal and informal groups at Mind; much of which is arts based. ‘We like to think we offer a range of different interventions that help and support people in the variety of ways that people need.’
This afternoon was another fantastic opportunity to see talented people showcase their abilities to an audience they may have never have had if it weren’t for our friend the Block.