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Let's be honest, historical statues can get a little boring. After all, how many times can one admire the intricate carving or read the plaque etched below? It is therefore no wonder that most people just whiz past them, as they go about their daily lives. But what if they had a story to tell? Would passersby spend two minutes of their precious time to listen?
Colette Hiller, the creative director of the non-profit organization 'Sing London', whose only mission is to make cities 'happy,' certainly thinks so. That is the reason her team came up with the idea of using modern technology and assistance from some creative writers, actors and comedians, to bring to life, the otherwise silent statues of London and Manchester.
The 'Talking Statues' project that launched on August 18th, includes an eclectic mix of 35 statues. Among them are English physicist and scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, and the longest ruling monarch in British history, Queen Victoria. In order to get them to 'talk', passersby use their smartphones to scan a digital code or enter the special web address provided. They are almost instantly rewarded with a phone call, from the celebrity of their choice.
Conversations last just about two minutes and every statue has a different tale to tell. And while the monologue stays true to character, it is interspersed with a healthy dose of humor, making it entertaining for everyone.
For example, the regal Queen Victoria, starts with "Thank you for calling me on this strange machine. I have become very bored sitting here all day holding an extremely heavy scepter and orb." She then goes on to rant about the increasing traffic on the bridge and ends her speech by urging the listener to visit the Victoria exhibition at her childhood home, Kensington Palace.
Sherlock Holmes starts by lamenting about the fact that Dr. Watson is not by his side, and then draws the listener's attention to 'the suspicious looking man that just entered the bureau de change'. Abraham Lincoln who stands proud and tall in Manchester's Lincoln Square, educates his audience about why a British city decided to name an entire area, in his honor.
Though the 35 talking statues are a great start, Sing London is planning to add many more, to this year-long project. To make the city residents even 'happier', they have organized a contest to help craft an appropriate speech for four statues - Among them is world-famous British playwright, William Shakespeare, and everyone's favorite dinosaur, the Tyrannosaurus Rex! We wonder what they will say!
This is not the first time Sing London has brought joy to British residents. In 2009, they set up numerous ping pong tables in the middle of busy metropolitan areas and encouraged passersby to play impromptu games with complete strangers. It was so successful that 'Ping' as they call it, is now an annual occurrence that lasts six weeks and includes 600 tables, spread over 16 cities. Other fun events include citywide treasure hunts and public piano installations complete with music sheets, to encourage spontaneous concerts.
Resources: telegraph.co.uk, news.yahoo.com,theguardian.com