Playful walking in a street show

2015-12-01 06:00
 Actors and mimes took to city centre streets last week to raise awareness of pedestrian safety. Their theatrics featured some wiley characters, such as old women.              PHOTO: nicole mccain

Actors and mimes took to city centre streets last week to raise awareness of pedestrian safety. Their theatrics featured some wiley characters, such as old women. PHOTO: nicole mccain

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Gogos, go-go girls and a few fairytale favourites are helping to make Cape Town streets safer for pedestrians.

This as a group of actors and mimes descended on city streets to teach pedestrian safety. Different theatrical activities took place at five busy city centre intersections last week.

The event, named Streetiquette, was organised by Open Streets. The organisation is a citizen initiative, working to change how streets are used, perceived and experienced.

Streetiquette is inspired by a popular activity in Latin America in which colourful performances and interactive theatre are used to tackle unsafe and irresponsible behaviour by motorists and pedestrians on city streets.

“The campaign aims to trigger self-observation, self-reflection and, ultimately, self-education, and has been adapted for local audiences,” explains Open Streets’ Marcela Guerrero Casas.

Over 2800 pedestrians were hit by cars in central Cape Town in the decade up to last year, which means a pedestrian has been struck in the area about once a day for the past 10 years.

More than 450 of these cases resulted in serious injuries, according to the Western Cape department of transport.

The department has partnered with Open Streets to roll out the pedestrian safety awareness event.

“The need is now more pronounced than ever for continued innovation in changing poor road user behaviour, through initiatives such as the Streetiquette campaign,” says Donald Grant, provincial minister of transport and public works.

“Raising awareness amongst motorists and pedestrians on how to use our roads properly and safely, will undoubtedly go a long way to addressing this very pressing issue.”

The pilot project last week used different approaches to find the type of language and format that can serve as the basis for a long-term campaign that can be taken to other parts of Cape Town and the province. The theatrics were directed by Mandisi Sindo, artistic director of Theatre4Change Therapeutic Theatre, and Jason Potgieter, who runs Instant Arts Collective. A final performance will take place during First Thursdays this week at the intersection of Bree and Wale streets.

“We hope Streetiquette will start an important conversation that everyone becomes a part of,” says Guerrero Casas.

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