Monday, November 1, 2010

Performers in the Streets

I was reminded by fellow blogger, Tim, of something which we often encounter when driving through the busy intersections in San Salvador -- street performers. I always have mixed feelings when we witness these quick performances. The performers are usually male, often appear to be young teens, and their abilities and showmanship are many times quite amazing! Yet it is sad to me that the young ones are not in school, and it is worrisome to me when they dart out at the change of the stoplight, sometimes late at night, hoping to entertain and hoping to receive a bit of compensation in appreciation of their performances.

I can envision jugglers with bowling pins, boys maneuvering balls on pairs of sticks, a few clowns, and lately, musicians. So, I went on a mission, looking for photos of performers among the many thousands of photos in my "Everything El Salvador" folder . . . and I could only find ONE photo. Of course, I might have some from the pre-digital era, but it really surprised me to only find one in my computer search.

Upon reflection, I think that there are a couple of reasons for this. It's hard to take in a performance if you are too busy snapping photos of it. I am also often stuck inside a bus with the inability to pay the performer, and I really don't think it is right to take a photo of a performance without offering some kind of compensation (and I do pay performers if I can). I'm not sure if local authorities try to restrict performers, particularly children. I once visited a center in Managua which worked with families to encourage kids to stay in school by setting up classes in the morning, extra help in the afternoon, and safe supervision of street performances during rush hours. In an economy which lacks jobs, especially for those without sufficient education, performing in the street is, maybe somewhat sadly, one way in which to put basic foods on the table.

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