“Scared by the cascading deprogramming since March 2020, the spectators are making up their minds later and later”

Chronic. There was a crowd, Monday, September 13, at the Théâtre de la Bastille, in Paris, for the Lost illusions, directed by Pauline Bayle. Not a free seat for this modern and fascinating reinterpretation of Balzac’s masterpiece. Same crowd a few days before, for the resumption of Fly, funny and burlesque play by Valérie Lesort and Christian Hecq, at the Bouffes du Nord. More sparse atmosphere, on the other hand, for the second date of Madame Fraize, the new show by Marc Fraize, at the Théâtre du Rond-Point, and on other stages which are struggling to bring back their followers, especially for the creations. In cinemas too, the results are mixed. On the one hand, there are big machines that fill up – Dune, North ferry, Kaamelott, Paw Patrol, Shang-chi – and easily exceed a million admissions, on the other hand, films which hardly manage to cross the bar of 300,000 spectators.

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It is too early to learn the lessons of a cultural re-entry without a gauge – but with a health pass and a mask – less anxiety-provoking than that of September 2020 when the second epidemic wave of Covid-19 was already threatening. The theaters have just reopened, the museums are starting their fall hangings. As for concerts, it will take time to get back to normal. September is traditionally not the best month for filling. The arrival of the big cultural blockbusters that are the Morozov Collection, at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, and the new James Bond, To die can wait, in theaters on October 6, could serve as locomotives for an entire sector.

A more elastic time

However, a trend seems to emerge. Scared by the cascading deprograms since March 2020, spectators are deciding more and more late to reserve their places. Many managers of venues or festivals thus testify to this marked phenomenon of last-minute reservations. There is of course the fear that the show will not take place, but also that of not being able to come if one is in contact or positive.

More broadly, there is this new relationship to time induced by the periods of confinement and closure of cultural places. A more elastic time, sometimes more constrained, therefore not very conducive to distant projections. If the concerts of the great Anglo-Saxon stars, Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish in the lead, at the Accor Arena in Paris, have been sold out for a long time, while they will only take place in 2022, an event like the festival Jazz à La Villette only saw a good part of its audience react in the last days.

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