Aurillac Festival International de Théâtre de Rue

I guess you could consider this as a ‘holiday’ post, but really I thought the concept of the Festival International de Théâtre de Rue at Aurillac in Central France was relevant to what is happening in theatre everywhere at the moment.  There’s something about Street Theatre that makes it fascinating to watch.  Perhaps it’s the sheer variety of what’s on offer from one street corner to the next – theatre, comedy, dance, mime, spoken word, circus, acrobatics, music, games.  Perhaps it’s the challenge for the performers to work in the open air fighting against the noise of the city and all the visitors, as well as nearby performers who are getting louder cheers.  Or perhaps it’s because the only way these performers get paid is to engage the audience for an hour and then persuade us to part with some money.  There seemed to be a rough guide here, one or two euros for OK, five for something quite brilliant and very occasionally ten euros.  They frequently do this by combining a central narrative with blocks of performance that maintain short term attention.  Not much chance for slow plot development.

The Aurillac festival has been going since 1986, and this year attracted over 600 companies over four days (23-26 August 2017).  Planning your day is like planning the Edinburgh Fringe, a mix of structure, spontaneity and knowing you’re missing a lot of the best stuff.  Every space is taken over for performance, from street corners and small squares to schools, car parks and riverside parks.  It’s a brilliant atmosphere combining everyone from eclectic performers to families and tourists.  Here’s a few of the shows I saw.

Teatro del Silencio present a full scale production of Oh! Secours inspired by ‘Beckett and Godot’ by Chilean playwright Juan Radrigán, a production that would have been impressive on any Manchester stage.

There was music, lots of drums…

The French have a unique sense of humour that didn’t always work for me.

Two women (Pas Par Hazard) stranded at a motorway service station, this was a performance in which I participated (think of painted moustache and long hair wig). I had to dance a classic French routine which I didn’t know. I either ruined their performance or made it twice as funny.

Several people were walking around half naked covered in bright paint. Here’s some of their trail.

Working a difficult audience in uncomfortable heat. A brilliant example of short storytelling within a complex narrative.

There was a lot of audience participation. This is a beautiful dance piece from Les Mobilettes about coming to terms with childhood disability.

Classic French street theatre with great use of clowning, ‘L’être recommendé’.

Just like Edinburgh, posters and flyers everywhere!

Not just performance, a full range of services on offer.


Probably the most beautiful piece of mime I have ever seen, I cried, Comme Si with Deux Rien. On a tiny street corner.

Just like any festival of this type, there were many people wandering around doing durational or promenade performances. I think these are birds.

A practical way of getting around during the Festival.

A take on the traditional circus without using real animals. On a roundabout.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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