Performance halls in search of lost alchemy

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STEPHANE TRAPIER

Six months ago, Stanislas Nordey played Claudel in Hangzhou, in eastern China. Twenty people in a room with 1,200. Students in an empty cathedral. Bad memory ? “No, a very strong emotional moment. ” When he started out, the director of the Théâtre national de Strasbourg (TNS) played Marivaux in front of two people, Pasolini in front of twenty-four spectators. In 2013, he saw the Avignon audience flee his show because of the rain. He performed in sparse rooms after the 2015 bombings. He saw many things, except virus parts. So it is curious to see what will happen in September, between the spectators in the hall and the actors on the set.

The theaters, with 300 as well as 30,000 seats, in the theater, music or dance, are black boxes that are close to the anthill. Their viability depends on it. However, a decree published on June 1 allows them to reopen on condition of leaving one seat out of two empty, with mandatory mask and ban on standing concerts. The majority of places and the producers who feed them are categorical: unless you want to lose money, this model is impossible.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Cinemas and concert halls are delighted to reopen, but wonder how to do it

Funny atmosphere. While France deconfines, the world of entertainment is not seen going back to the front as the fog is thick. Modest productions will take place in June or during the summer, but the challenge is September. And there, if the virus has not disappeared, everything will depend for theaters and shows on their economic model. We may be in art, it all starts from there. “The less you depend on the recipe and the success, the more you can hold on. The more we depend on tickets, the less we can reopen », sums up Laurent Bayle, president of the Philharmonie de Paris.

While France deconfins, the world of entertainment is not seen to go back to the front as the fog is thick

The divide is first between the private sector and the public. The first is based on the ticket office, which must cover the cost of the show; the second is based on a grant that allows you to create, even with few spectators. As a result, the private sector is at a standstill and does not see itself coming back in September with the virus while the public sector is already recovering slowly. “The ambient discourse is that we must reopen, explains Olivier Poubelle, who runs La Maroquinerie, a private Parisian rock and hip-hop room. But for us, it’s impossible. ” Private theaters and music halls say they are losing money below 70% or 80% fill. Besides, big posters are canceled one after the other until the end of the year, like The Weeknd, Andrea Bocelli, Céline Dion, Iron Maiden, Paul McCartney, Rammstein …

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