Soft gestures instead of hard-handed protests: street artists are to try and help solve the garbage and noise problems on Berlin’s party streets. But will they get the message across to revelers in the German capital?
Their pasty white faces and colorless clothes are a central feature in Berlin’s nightlife scene. A group of pantomime artists walks around the lively party area in the city’s Friedrichshain district. They immediately attract the attention of the guests in the busy street cafés.
Their short performances with tiny pillows and flashlights send out a clear message: hey, guys, people live above the cafés. And why is that gum on the ground? Pick up your cigarette butts. But they pass on the message in total silence.
At home in a party district
A pilot project initiated by club owners the local administrators in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, restaurant owners and hoteliers: against noise and garbage on the “in” streets. A creative way of pointing out local residents’ needs to the revelers. It is aimed to run from early May until mid July. On weekend evenings the artists will try to make contact with noisy partygoers. Until four in the morning.
One young woman in a cocktail bar agrees that it makes you start to think about your own behavior and re-consider the “anything goes” attitude. The artists are to be accompanied in party districts by trained, multi-lingual experts who distribute pamphlets and explain what the project aims to achieve.
They say they aren’t there to help people who are hopelessly drunk or try to stop fights. All the participants are young people who know their way around the party scene. The local authorities looked at how other cities are tackling similar problems. Paris has also used pantomime artists.
Pantomimes Replace Police
The team caused some red faces, probably partly due to large media interest. The artists pretend to laugh out loud or slap their thighs like revelers might do. Some passers-by take photos on their mobile phones. The idea is to make revelers aware of the fact that people also live in the party districts. Organizers say reactions so far have been positive. The local authorities are financing the project to the tune of 50,000 euros. The same amount came from EU funds. The aim is to reduce the number of times police are called out to stop noise. They, too cost taxpayers’ money.
Gisela Gross (dpa) / pw