"When you talk about the pandemic and its repercussions, the world of culture and entertainment is often forgotten, and in reality it is one of those that is suffering the most from the consequences of COVID-19, with hundreds of thousands of artists out of work. , with no contract and no prospect of getting ahead until things get back on track. " Who makes this statement is Stephane Haffner, a Franco-Italian businessman and circus acrobat, founder of Les farfadais, which has suffered the blow of confinement and the consequent cancellation of its contracts in a more than notorious way.
"Before the pandemic arrived, we were a company with 120 acrobats distributed by theaters and cruise ships around the world; now we are only 40 artists that we represent Equality in shows that we do in Italian campsites and that help us to maintain ourselves ", he explains.
Outside of Italy, their only current show is the one they have in the courtyard of the carrer Sant Isidre, 20 de Sitges (Barcelona), belonging to the local Pious Schools. "Thanks to the efforts of the City Council we have obtained this place, and a friend [el productor Toni Albadalejo] He has lent us the towers and lights to make the show; this is how we have been able to do the summer season given the circumstances ", continues this ex-gymnast who also participates as an acrobat in his shows.
The result is a show with five acrobats halfway between dance and acrobatics in which both the aerial skills of its protagonists as well as the lights and choreographies matter, some of them with a marked message of LGTBI commitment. "It is a show for families, which seduces you by its fantasy and where the LGTBI militancy is not dissonant," says Haffner, who created the company with her brother Alexandre in 1999 on the streets of Paris, specifically on the esplanade of the Center.
2015: the year of awareness
Although the Haffner brothers started their company more than 20 years ago and have expanded their business to hundreds of cruises around the world, most notably with the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, it wasn't until 2015 that Stephane decided to give the shows of the company a markedly LGTBI tone. It was as a result of participating with her company in the program Italia Has Got Talent, in which at a prime time she asked for a live marriage to her boyfriend, another of the acrobats.
"That fact aroused many consciences in an Italy that until then had not legislated LGTBI rights; on the one hand, open Italy applauded us, on the other the conservative insulted us and threatened to kill us, to the point of being forced to abandon the program ", he assures.
This made her aware of the problem, since both he and her husband became both objects of hatred for some and gay icons for the rest of the world, and highlighted the delay in Italian legislation on the matter. Haffner emphasizes that her case led the European Commission to force the transalpine country to regulate the rights of sexual minorities.
"Since then we define ourselves as an LGTBI circus, although not all or all the acrobats are; we have more explicit shows such as AirOtic and others more adapted to all audiences such as EqualityWith AirOtic they were already at the Victoria Theater in Barcelona in 2018, within the LGTBI Circuit festival, also devastated by the pandemic.
An uncertain 2021
Next year is uncertain for Les Farfadais: "we have three large ships in Nice, Barcelona and Florida that serve as our base; the first to design and prepare theater shows and large events; the other two for cruise ship shows , which have their base in Miami and in Barcelona an obligatory docking point; logically, in order to maintain this infrastructure, the problem is that we must finance ourselves with loans at a time when income is barely coming in. "
For now, the French banks, which granted them a payment freeze for six months, have announced that they will not extend it. While on the other side of the scale weighs the fact that in the United States the first cruises since the beginning of the pandemic are being prepared for November, which will feature shows by Les Farfadais. So, everything will depend on how long it takes to find a vaccine for the virus.
"At the moment we have extended the Sitges show, but we will go to the gardens of El Retiro [uno de los dos casinos que tiene la villa] where we will be all the month of September, until the 27th. For later we are closing with Toni [el productor Toni Albadalejo] go to the Poliorama theater in Barcelona in autumn and we will also try to go to Madrid and other cities in Spain with Equality and AirOtic ", he assures.
The company usually records its shows indoors to offer them online to its followers upon payment. They did it with other shows and Haffner explains that they will also do it with Equality. Tickets can be purchased from this link.