Even clowns no longer want to laugh. Since the start of confinement, the circuses have been forced to brutally close the doors of their marquees. "It's simple, we haven't worked for almost 6 months," laments Louis Dassonneville, head of the Achille Zavatta circus, based in Cerny in Essonne. The announcements of Edouard Philippe this Thursday, for the 2nd phase of the deconfinement, do not yet open the door to the resumption of shows in Ile-de-France at least until June 22. Usually, the wintering period of this itinerant structure extends from the end of November to the beginning of February.
READ ALSO> Cinemas, theaters, amusement parks ... the deconfinement becomes clearer
"We are completely at a standstill and we do not know what the future will be like," explains this professional, whose troop which counts about fifteen people usually performs in Ile-de-France and in Brittany.
A baby camel named Covid or Corona…
Pending recovery, as in some 230 itinerant circuses in France, the boxes remain desperately empty. "All the money that we had put away is gone, abounds this representative of a seventh generation of Circassians. But the charges are still there. Among them, the food of the twenty animals participating in the numbers. To support his camels, African bulls, horses, llamas, donkeys and ponies, Louis Dassonneville spends between 1,000 and 1,500 euros each month.
"We have another month, after it's unknown," he warns. The fodder we have left is not going to last forever. The needs are all the more important as the animals make small. Witness this chamelon born on April 10. "We hesitate on the name we are going to give him," smiles this strong fellow, stroking the head of the little camel. It will be either Covid or Corona. "
Lower costs for companies that do not have animals. Even if the last two performances of the season had to be canceled when the confinement was announced, the situation of the famous Bouglione winter circus, located on rue Amelot in the XI arrondissement, seems to be less complicated. The artists, who come from all over the world, have gone home or joined other productions. Without any resident, the costs incurred are therefore lower for the Bouglione family who own the walls. According to her, there is no point in worrying now, the winter circus "has strong kidneys". Still, the troop, ready to return to the track, is impatient to find the public.
Fewer spectators under the marquees?
A feeling shared by Alexandre Romanès, owner of the circus of the same name at Porte Maillot (16th century). "I'm like a pregnant woman, I'm waiting," he says. But above all, I wonder if people will come back to see shows. Besides, we had to take the direction of La Villette for a flamenco show and it was canceled like our summer tour in Lille and Rouen. I hope at best to save our passage in Rennes. "
But the resumption date is not the only reason for concern for these professionals. “We are also waiting to see under what conditions we will be able to resume, warns Roger Mordon, president of the Federation of traditional circuses and owners of show animals. If we can only accommodate a very small part of our usual spectators, it will not cover our costs. "
Essonne NewsletterEvery morning, the news of your department seen by Le Parisien
Your email address is collected by Le Parisien to allow you to receive our news and commercial offers. Find out more
Roger Mordon also hopes that cities will play the game when tours resume. "There are more and more municipalities that do not allow us to settle or that offer eccentric land," said one who is also a member of the national commission for fairground and circus professions. And even more complicated in Ile-de-France where space is lacking. For him, location remains the biggest problem for traveling circuses. "The cities will have to let us work otherwise it will be catastrophic," he anticipates.
"We are the forgotten ones of the crisis"
The creative (or contemporary) circus and its narrative shows without wildlife, have not escaped the crisis either. The financial situation of the famous Cirque du Soleil is proof of this. The main obstacle to a recovery is this famous article 1 of the decree on sanitary measures related to Covid-19, prescribing "the physical distance of at least one meter between two people, anywhere and in all circumstances". Clearly, "our artists cannot touch each other," notes Yannis Jean. Our job is to send objects and people up in the air, like trapeze artists. These artists or these objects, we must catch up! "
The announced reopening of Puy-du-Fou put him out of it. “Like them, we perform live shows. They can reopen, not us. We are the forgotten ones of the crisis! We are invisible because we are thousands of small businesses, but we represent thousands of jobs. "
The other issue is the reception of the public. The government requires the organizers, as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe reminded Thursday, to guarantee social distancing. “Whether in a marquee or indoors, we are in a confined space. At best, we will be at half the gauge. Is it profitable to open? Asks the general manager of the union.
Despite the reopening of theaters on June 22 in Ile-de-France, Yannis Jean does not expect a recovery until September. "Artists are like top athletes, they need three months to get back in shape," he said.
Once authorization to resume their activity, another obstacle will arise in front of circus companies. “The postponement of many cultural events will saturate the performance halls. Some companies will find themselves with no prospect of dissemination, "warns Yannis Jean. To avoid bankruptcy, one of the solutions would therefore be to play outside the walls, with the support of local communities. "We can put up marquees, we are mobile, it allows us to get closer to people". Finally, he claims state support to finance "our operating costs, such as bank charges and rents".