Friday, November 9, 2012

Sirens at Midday

In Marseille this week, I suddenly came across a crowd of expectant people clustered around the Opera House - on a late November morning. It seemed an odd sort of time for a spectacle, but indeed just before midday a file of figures all dressed in white tricked out of the freshly restored classical frontage and onto some little squares of grass laid out for the purpose.

It seems that France's cities test their emergency warning sirens at noon sharp on the first Wednesday of each month. And in Marseille a theatrical collective, Sirènes et midi net (the name is a rather laboured pun), has staged a different little spectacle each month ever since 2001. Each show has to last exactly 12 minutes (the time between the sounding of the two sirens) and members of the public came take part too. The November playlet - inspired by the fact that the month begins with All Saint's Day - was a dance of death. Intriguing. You can read more about the project here.

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