Doin’ The Pigeon.
Hello Pigeons is a formal meeting between two species whose lives have been intrinsically linked for thousands of years. It’s a 3 act participatory public performance.
Act 1 is a crash course in pigeon history and how they hooked up with humans. It takes place at The Performance Arcade. The Performance Arcade is art in a box. Shipping containers of experiences strewn across the Wellington Waterfront.
We are met by Kedron Parker. She is dressed in grey and wearing red Chuck Taylor high tops. The reason why is not immediately apparent.
Act 2 is a walk and talk en-route to Pigeon Park. Attitudes are explored as we share our pigeon stories; the good, the bad and the horrific! Myths are debunked and interspersed with pigeon trivia. The issue of pigeon ‘control’ leads to a discussion about ethics and human/wildlife conflict.
Act 3 is where all the action happens. Pigeon Park is the waka-shaped wedge between Dixon Street and Manners which was once part of a thriving Te Aro Pā. It has been a park since 1910 and officially named Te Aro Park since 1992. It’s also the site where 80 pigeons were mysteriously poisoned in 1999.
We are met by Adam Ben-Dror. He’s wearing grey with red high tops like Kedron. Side by side and surrounded by pigeons, it suddenly makes sense.
Adam gives us a safety briefing, a bag of bread and a group herding task that gets us interacting with the park’s resident pigeons and observing their behaviours.
The next task, in pairs, has us concentrating on just two pigeons. Now they are no longer a flock of generalisations and broad perceptions. They are unique with distinct quirks and personalities. Kind of like… humans!
The finale begins when we are handed and taught to hold our very own domesticated pigeon. These are racing pigeons from Paraparaumu. Now we’re actually bonding with a bird. I’m looking into its eyes. I can feel its heart beating in my hands! I want it to know that it is safe. I want it to know me!
The crescendo comes with the release of the birds. We did this in a circle, arms outstretched, one by one. Now it was a joyous celebration of spirit; theirs and ours. We watched as they winged their way home to warm nests on the Kapiti Coast.
Hello Pigeons is not pro-pigeon. It’s not anti-pigeon. It is an exchange of ideas about a species we share our city spaces with. A species who have helped humans expand across the globe. A species we brought with us.
Hello Pigeons is a part of The New Zealand Fringe Festival and runs in conjunction with The Performance Arcade 2016 until Sunday March 6. It is free to participate but it is essential to book your bird in advance.