“You’ll see, that’s 70 minutes of guaranteed humor. Come on, it’s 1:00 pm, the theater is a stone’s throw away.” A mixture of jokes and good character, he has a charming smile and the enthusiasm of the first times. Marc Larebière is however far from being a beginner. “My first Avignon was in 1987, he says. I was an actor. “ This time the production is started by the man who is also the director of a café-théâtre in Annecy (Les Têtes de l’Art). He chose to accompany De Gaulle is back, a family comedy that brings the General back to life and immerses him in the modern world. A mix of humor and historical references that earned the show the support of the Charles de Gaulle Foundation.

De Gaulle returns with Matthieu Kalka and Valentin Maerte (KOBAYASHI)

And it is on the street that the public is won over. The show may have been played 700 times since its creation in 2016, in Avignon, it is necessary to start all over again and regain its place among the 1,570 shows offered this year. A fierce competition that forces spectators to be seduced one by one, flyers in hand and advertising T-shirts on their backs. But what prompted Marc Larebière to venture into such a project? “It’s to stay young”admits bluntly.

Marc Larebière conquering the spectators in the streets of Avignon (Ariane Combes)

It is also a story of friendship. With the two actors and authors of the show, first of all: Matthieu Kalka and Valentin Maerte, met during a performance in Annecy. Also with Romain Bailloud, an amateur actor passionate about café-théâtre who invested 15,000 euros to finance the project. Most of the spending is concentrated on renting the theater. “Is simple, calculate the patron, it takes 100 euros per chair. For a 100-seat auditorium this is a budget of € 10,000, to which must be added accommodation and the actors’ taxes “. He does not intend to recover his expenses at the end of the festival but within a year or two if the show is “signed” by the programmers.

The two actors of De Gaulle is back expect 40 to 50 spectators per performance. Goal achieved on the fourth day after a modest start (20 tickets per day) and some cold sweat. “Some cultural centers make their selection only in Avignon, we had to be there “testifies Matthieu Kalka. “Avignon is as much a dream machine as it is a mill of companies”adds lucid, the actor who relies heavily on press feedback and word of mouth to fill the room. This is also how the piece found its audience in the beginning.

Crossed in rue Caretterie in the middle of a trailer, Loïc Bartolini for his part dedicates a budget of 25,000 euros to present his work Freelance photographer at the Théâtre des Brunes. An investment in your own funds. For his one-of-a-kind piece on stage that looks like a travelogue, he hired a stage manager, a broadcast manager and a general logistics person. After eight appearances at the Off with three different shows, he now knows what awaits him.

In 2019 I had a loss of 7,000 euros. Also this year I know that I will not cover my costs with the box office, but for me what matters is to meet broadcasters and programmers and sell my show to them. If I can sign 15 dates for next season, it will be a great tour.

Loic Bartolini

actor and director

If Loïc Bartolini’s company has enough solid shoulders, this is not the case with many other structures which, due to lack of spectators in the early days, find themselves over-indebted and forced to leave the festival before the end. “Legend has it that a quarter of companies give up along the way”testifies the actress Paméla Blottière whose company La Limprost presents for the second time in Avignon Everything has turned upside down, a musical fairy tale for children, at the Carnot theater. The direction of the Avignon Festival & Compagnies association (AF&C) does not confirm this figure, but as a matter of fact, some companies leave the shirt there.

Any roundabout of the company Limprost (Cie la Limprost)

Last year Limprost had the opportunity to benefit from public grants from Sacem, Spedidam and the city of Le Mans from which it comes. € 12,000 in total. But by 2021 the programmers had already completed the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons due to the postponements related to Covid, so it is this year that he hopes to sign the dates. Small capacity (49 seats), in a small theater, at a less demanded time (11:30), accommodation for the troupe outside Avignon: everything was done to limit expenses and avoid the cessation of activity. May the dream not turn into a nightmare.

“De Gaulle is back”, by Mattieu Kalka and Valentin Maerte, in La Comédie d’Avignon (40 rue des Lices, Avignon). Until July 30th, at 1pm No lessons on July 11th, 18th and 25th.

“Photographer Freedom”, by Loïc Bartolini, at the Théâtre des Brunes (rue Thiers 32, in Avignon). Until July 30th, at 12:55 pm No lessons on July 12th, 19th and 26th.

“Tout tourne-boulé”, by the company La Limprost, at the Carnot theater (16 rue Carnot, Avignon). Until July 30th at 11:30 am No lessons on July 11th, 18th and 25th.


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