Tuesday, August 12, 2008

2008 Leran'Cestral Spectacular

The 2008 Spectacular went off without a hitch, even though we weren't in it. The costumes were magnificent and the equestrian events were, although pretty much the same as last year, the thing that makes the show spectacular and unusual. It started with the parade or defilement on Saturday and ended with the performance on Sunday. In between was a Saturday night debut with lights, a medieval market, poney rides, traffic jams and crowds of spectators.

We attended the show on Sunday afternoon and at one point I was amazed, surprised and shocked. You can see it in the fourth picture. A horseman dragged a blazing ball on a rope or chain. He rode along the bleachers dragging the fireball so we could all get a good look at it. As an American my first thought was: "The potential for disaster was quite unacceptable." There were children about in flowing costumes, not to mention adults. There was a chance the ball could come undone and come rolling into the audience. There was no small chance of something like grass or weeds catching afire, although it has been rather wet and probably no danger of wild fire was possible. Some grass did catch fire but went nowhere. Nonetheless, that was all I could think of for awhile. And indeed, all went well. No burning costumes or seared flesh.

Later on I realized what a large gulf exists between how the American and French cultures behave. In the states there would have been police and/or security guards everywhere, guarding the proceeds, directing traffic, handing out parking tickets. Lawyers would have been consulted. Certainly no Arabs would have been depicted in the play rounding up citizens and taking them off to slaughter. And there would have been no fireball dragged behind a horse twenty feet from he audience. In the United States, you can willingly participate in trying to ride a 2,000 pound bull for eight seconds and then hope you won't be gored when he throws you. But you can rest assured you won't be harmed as you sit in the audience, and if you are there will be a lawyer at your side before the ambulance arrives.

Now, I'm not saying one culture is wrong and the other right. Just different. The French attitude is refreshing. "Let it be, let it happen." The American attitude is "Control and no uncertainty. Show due diligence and (there's a lesser chance) you won't be sued".


Anonymous said...

We experienced the same thing in 1986, one could walk across the top of the Pont du Gard, the top row of seats in the coliseum in Arles had no guard rail or barrier, if you fall it's your fault. I think that it is America's litigious society which fosters the idea that people are not intelligent enough to look after themselves and when they don't they can sue someone for their own lack. The spectacular looks gorgeous, the equine portion and the costumes would be my favorites. Love, Leslie

Anonymous said...

What is the significance of the burning ball? Probably just to freak out the Americans in the audience. What do the English spectators think?...Peggy