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London has the planet’s most  popular pitch ‘Hundreds of years ago, performers would have just walked up to Covent Garden. Nowadays, artists audition for 40-minute timeslots,and the different  pitches are allocated at the start  of the day by a draw.’  Ev
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you're a Covent Garden performer

By
James FitzGerald
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…according to Corey Pickett, 26.

London has the planet’s most popular pitch

‘Hundreds of years ago, performers would have just walked up to Covent Garden. Nowadays, artists audition for 40-minute timeslots, and the different  pitches are allocated at the start of the day by a draw.’

Even fools have their rivalries

‘The way I look at Covent Garden is that all the idiots from all the different villages have got together. It’s amazing  and horrible! I’ve made the most incredible bonds, but there are people who say to you, “hey, you stole my line”  or try to push other people’s shows into the dark by overrunning. Fortunately, Covent Garden is very good at keeping that under control.’

The best acts hold fire on the pyrotechnics

‘A guy on a 12-foot unicycle juggling with fire has been seen before. You have to find a balance. My act is a juggling unicycle show, but I also improvise games with a kid volunteer to create physical comedy.’

Not all statues are art

‘I’ve worked alongside some amazing statue performers. On the other hand, some people put on a basic mask and have a cheap “levitating” trick. Personally, I don’t see a Yoda mask as a statue. I see that as someone trying to make easy money.’

Events elsewhere can shape a day’s earnings

‘If there’s recently been a terror attack in London, say, then there’ll be fewer tourists. On the flipside, sometimes you’ll do a show at what seems like the worst time of year – then all of a sudden three tour buses from Manchester turn up.’

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