We just returned from the Avignon Festival, an international festival of cutting edge theatre and performance art. An adjust to the festival is Avignon Le Off (http://bit.ly/iIju9). Le Off is “fringe” festival at which hundreds of theatre companies and performance artists are given a showcase to present their works every day for 3 1/2 weeks in July.
What really stood out for us is how the Off performers shamelessly pitch their works. Throughout this beautiful medieval walled city, performers in and out of costume promenade, handing out leaflets that tout their works and asking and cajoling every man and woman on the street to attend. As lovers of the arts, we were struck by the exuberance and excitement created by this atmosphere. And we wondered why American performers don’t do the same.
In every American city there are plazas and areas where potential audience members congregate. These may be museum plazas, outside cineplexes, areas of pedestrian-friendly nightlife, etc. Imagine the impact on attendance and awareness if performers and supporters of the scores or hundreds of small theatre and performance companies promoted their plays, dance concerts and other works in the manner of Le Off performers in Avignon. I, for one, think doing so would create a excitement and a buzz that is sure to generate more audience members for those who do. It also will enhance the vitality of our communities and support for the arts.