The French Rendez-Vous Festival kicks off with a bang

The fourth edition means a return to the public square after the disruptions caused by COVID-19

The fourth edition means a return to the public square after the disruptions caused by COVID-19

Giant puppets strutted along the seafront of the Promenade in a show that fused spectacle, street theatre, performance art and music to mark the start of the 2022 edition of the French Rendez-Vous Festival.

Organized as part of the Bonjour India festival by various French diplomatic missions and cultural agencies, the fourth edition of the festival also marked a return to the public square after the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and competition with the 75 and anniversary of Indian independence and Indo-French diplomatic relations.

A group of eight performers, four of them dressed as larger-than-life puppets, from Les Grandes Hommes d’Aubervilliers in France, presented their walking show “A Twist of Fate”.

It was an iconic performance by The Big People, a performance company famous for their magnified, larger-than-life puppet form featuring gigantic sculptures in a fusion of visual art and theatrical expression.

The half-parade, half-storytelling show depicts a strange family consisting of a young Chinaa boy and a little Meenu girl, who sometimes resembles a tigress, and their parents, the handsome Karna and a ghost-like Kanchana. Thrown into the mix is ​​a parakeet pulling tarot cards that will change the fate of the family.

“The show is about rejection, jealousy, empowerment and acceptance,” a troupe spokesperson said.

The jaw-dropping act further fired up the crowds as the giant figures swayed to the music of the local instrumental band who sang songs such as ‘ Raja Raja Chozhan Njan...’ and ‘ Vaa Vennila...’

“Wherever we perform, we have made it a point to collaborate with local artists,” said a cast member.

The Alliance Française of Pondicherry, a co-host, had enlisted the local band and the troupe had a brief discussion about their show, listened to excerpts from their repertoire and decided which song to place at which plot point in the story. To see the way they matched the rhythm, one would have thought that the troupe had grown up listening to the classics of Ilaiyaraaja.

Communicating a visual language accessible to all, weaving new relationships between the public and the show, inventing new ways of making sculpture dance in the street, such is the motto of a Les Grandes Hommes show.

Incidentally, the giant structures that featured in ‘A Twist of Fate’ were built during a residency in Pondicherry in March 2020 with the University of Pondicherry theater students and Calvé College students here.

The Consulate General of France in Pondicherry and Chennai is hosting the French Rendez-Vous festival in Pondicherry, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram from April 3 to 9. Among the collaborators are the French Institute in India and the chapters of the Alliances Françaises in Pondicherry, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram. The holiday is also supported by the government of Pondicherry, the government of Tamil Nadu and a host of Indo-French businesses.

The eclectic festival features 12 free-entry shows, featuring music, drama, modern circus and puppet shows, some of which are a collaboration with Indian artists, highlighting cultural cooperation between the two countries, the consulate said. .