We would never have imagined that such a project could come to settle there, where there is almost nothing. Neither trade, nor even dwellings. Hidden between the Vilaine and the Beaulieu university campus, the HQ of the Grande Nomade is a former site of travelers called the Îlot U.
Busy by a few DIY huts For the past two years, the site opposite the Préales park and ride has been rented by the town hall of Rennes. Owner of this bit of dusty land, the municipality had it evacuated at the beginning of July. Since Thursday, the site has been occupied by a new cultural structure which intends to make it a hybrid place mixing theatre, music and popular ball. Her name : the Great Nomad. A slightly misleading title, because for the time being the structure will not move. But she intends to travel all over Brittany every summer, once her beautiful mobile wooden theater has been shaped.
“We want to recreate a theater that we could take on a journey”
Behind this somewhat crazy project are two men (and a string of friends of theirs). Christophe Le Gal La Salle is the proud owner of La Mie Mobile, a neighborhood bistro known for its waterfront guinguette, right next to Elabo.
Founder of the Village of Alphonse, the man has been supporting cultural creation for decades. It was during a show that he met Jean-Michel Le Moal. The manager first became a colleague, then a friend and now an associate. “We’ve had a mobile theater project in mind for almost ten years. We want to recreate an Elizabethan theater in wood, on two floors, which we could take to a Breton department every summer”, explains the manager.
An old carousel and an English bus
An ambitious project that will require both money and time. In a hurry, the two friends have already had to wait two years due to the pandemic. So as soon as they got the green light from the city, they opened their party venue, just to “get their hands dirty” and prove to the partners that their idea was solid. Inaugurated on Thursday evening, their bivouac is made up of a wooden bar in a guinguette style and a covered dance floor. Next door, an old Régis Masclet merry-go-round will take the children around and the English bus from La Mourchette will come and feed their parents.
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From Thursday to Sunday, paid performances by artists from all walks of life will take place here. “We don’t want to become yet another performance hall in Rennes. Our project is more atypical, it is militant. It is based on the social and solidarity economy, mutual aid. With all the changes that we are experiencing on the planet, it is imperative to change our way of life,” says Christophe Le Gal La Salle.
Open since Thursday evening at 1 rue Django Reinhardt (it can’t be invented), La Grande Nomade wants to be “accessible to all”. Every Sunday, it will take up the principle of the Pirate Ball to make Rennes dance on a covered floor. His occupation permit runs for the time being until October. But its founders already see themselves going further to sustain the activity all year round. And set sail each summer to land their mobile theater where the wind will take them. Not this year but why not in 2023.