Macnas: Saturday March 12
Macnas from Ireland decorates SXSW 2016
There is a giant sculpture of a rhinoceros in the middle of the street. It’s ominous. The early evening light has cast a particularly eerie shade over everything. There are several other giant sculptures rolling up the street.
People are dancing at the foot of the statue. They are wearing colorful costumes. The audience is joining in. What is happening here? It’s “Macnas,” according to one of the performers. The word translates roughly to the frolicking of the spring lambs.
It’s an appropriate term. There is a spirit of whimsy here. This performance by the Macnas theater troupe is supported by IDA Ireland and Culture Ireland.
Ireland’s had a pretty strong showing at SXSW for the last couple of years. At SXSW, representatives from countries rent out a venue or organize a series of events to promote the culture and businesses of that country. Representation ranges from a booth at the Trade Show, to a series of concerts, to elaborately-decorated venues with free sushi and talking robots. These countries include:
Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Spain, and the UK.
Ireland frequently is categorized with the rest of the UK’s SXSW events. For the last couple years, the UK reps have rented out the same bar just off 6th street. They have several days of music programming there. Usually there is a day that particularly promotes Irish music. So there is some differentiation.
Also, St. Patrick’s day happens to occur during SXSW. It’s pretty crazy then. Weird things happen. Probably super offensive. If any Irish people are reading this. Sorry?
The performance continues. The crowd is getting denser. Other costumed characters are getting closer. Small children are gazing in wonder and inebriated adults are being forced to doubt their sense of reality. This is a fascinating spectacle. Which has to count as some form of success.
There are other places to be on Red River Street. The performance goes on, nevertheless. The rhino statue has eyes that follow you, wherever you may go. It’s Macnas.