altYears ago when I first moved to Germany I wondered at the street performers. On the hottest of days at least one such performer would be in the city center, the pedestrian zone, collecting coins for standing still like a statue and then scaring the pedestrians. Of course, the first thought that came to my mind was, “Is this even legal? Do you need a permit for that or is it like in New York, where you just put your hat down on the ground and start singing or playing?”

Who cares if it’s legal or if you need a permit?! It’s really amazing!

The woman pictured here was in the city center in Hamburg, Germany just a few days ago. It was about 85° Fahrenheit and she stood in the full, blazing sun. She stood on a pedestal, easily seen by passers-by, and “cleaned” the apples on her apron or posed for pictures. Everything she did was in perfect slow-motion and accompanied by witty facial expressions.

Of course she is there to earn some money, so some people throw in some change. The sign below her (see the picture below) says “If you would like to take a picture of me as a souvenir, you should (please) show me a token of your appreciation. Thank you.”

So of course I took some pictures and threw in a Euro as a little token of my appreciation. The woman bent down with her eyes wide open and a big smile on her face, until she had made eye contact with me and I her silent “thank you” had been understood.”

street performer 1I really have no idea what this woman does, if she is studying theatre or if she is simply good at this and does it to earn some extra money. This was common when I went to graduate school in Manhattan; a friend of mine only had enough money to pay his tuition, rent, and subway pass, but not to pay for groceries so he would frequently go to a couple of corners in Manhattan, throw his hat on the ground, and start singing gospels. He is a tall African-American man with a booming voice that everyone loved, and so, too, did the pedestrians in Manhattan. It was more than a few months that he was able to pay for his groceries with that money and he was able to step away from the academic environment and sing for the pure joy of singing. There was no pressure and sometimes even a few requests from passers-by.

What a joy it was to see this woman, performing as she does—I don’t know if one would call it miming or silent theatre maybe—to the delight of those around her, for children, for adults, and for seniors; we all stood in amazement watching her, and for a few moments lost ourselves in the experience.