For the past four days, an estimated 600,000 people have been chasing a gigantic robotic spider and minotaur around France’s southwestern city of Toulouse in a massive street theater spectacle.
The “The Guardian of the Temple” show was conceived and presented by La Machine Compagnie, an organization directed by François Delarozière. A native of Toulouse, Delarozière has been building giant robots for a couple of decades and staging similar street performances in other cities.
The latest event marks his homecoming ahead of opening a permanent facility next weekend that will serve as a kind of museum for his creations, as well as a workshop and event space called The Hall of the Machine (La Halle de la Machine).
To celebrate his return, the four-day Guardian spectacle took over the city center of France’s fourth largest city and its maze-like roads. The original myth was rewritten to tell the story of Astérion, a minotaur who is reawakened from a long sleep by his half-sister, a giant spider called Ariane.
VIDEO: French street theater company "La Machine" sends a giant minotaur and spider down the streets of Toulouse to the delight of local residents and tourists pic.twitter.com/GGjaQJ7zmW
— AFP news agency (@AFP) November 3, 2018
As Astérion tries to recover his powers, he wanders the “labyrinth” of Toulouse, occasionally helped by Ariane, before finally finding his way back to the temple he was destined to guard. Along the way, the rumbling giants are accompanied by musicians and the robotic troupe operating the machines.
The spider was built for a previous show. But the minotaur, made of wood and metal and weighing 46 tons, cost the city of Toulouse €2.4 million ($2.73 million) and the show another €2 million ($2.28 million). La Halle de la Machine cost another €15 million ($17.08 million).
City and regional officials hope the event, which drew international attention to Toulouse and the new space, will add to the city’s tourist appeal, as well as reinforcing efforts to crystallize its reputation as a center of tech research and innovation.
“Toulouse is talked about in the whole world simply by the presence of these mythological beings,” Delarozière told local newspaper La Dépêche. “The people of Toulouse gave me a gift by allowing me to do this show. “The Minotaur will be visible day and night 365 days a year, except when he goes on a trip. He will become then ambassador of Toulouse, the city which saw it being born.”