FiraTàrrega turns 40: freewheeling theater festival forced to celebrate amid Covid measures
Performing arts fair limits its trademark off-program street shows and makes pre-booking compulsory
FiraTàrrega, Catalonia’s leading street theater festival, is celebrating its 40th anniversary as it faces the challenge of staying true to its daring and freewheeling spirit while complying with safety protocols to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
After canceling all in-person activities in 2020, the festival, held in the Western Catalonia town of Tàrrega, returned this Thursday with a program featuring 57 different shows over the weekend, more than in pre-pandemic times.
Unlike previous editions, all events — which include a vast array of performing arts disciplines such as puppetry, acrobatics, clowns, and dance — must be booked in advance. Prices range from €2 to €15.
"It will be like a fake street, because we’ll be under control, but we want to simulate the philosophy"
Anna Giribet · FiraTàrrega art director
The festival’s trademark off-program shows, with smaller companies or individual performers striving to capture the attention of passersby on crowded streets, have been confined to the premises of the Maria Mercè Marçal school, access to which is restricted.
In all, 20,650 tickets are up for sale—nearly double the number of tickets available two years ago, when around 110,000 people visited the fair.
However, free activities, which used to account for most of the fair’s program, will now be almost non-existent.
Organizers strongly encourage people to arrive at Tàrrega "with their homework done," having planned their visit in advance and with tickets already booked.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, FiraTàrrega has prepared a 9-minute video featuring past editions and which pays a homage to the audience. It is being screened for free in the Plaça Major square six times a day.
Organizers told the Catalan News Agency that they want to stay true to the spirit of the fair, trying to recreate "a theme park of performing arts" in the different spaces where shows will be on display.
"It will be like a fake street, because we’ll be under control, but we want to simulate the philosophy," said Anna Giribet, the fair’s art director.