Once upon a time, there was a storytelling festival
1996, Mythos was started thanks to these simple words: “what if we created a storytelling festival?” The idea was given by Maël Le Goff, who fell under the charm of storytelling at a very young age. At the same time as studying history at the University of Rennes 2, he started following his father – a professional story-teller – when he went on tour around Brittany. That was the trigger for the young man from Lorient. “I am completely fascinated by this generation of artists, such as Yannick Jaulin or Gérard Potier. I find that their stories fall in perfectly with modern society, and are far from the popular cliché of the Breton story-teller with a white beard”. The idea of creating a festival based on storytelling made its way slowly into his mind. “I wanted to know if my university friends were as touched as I was by these story-tellers”.
Immediate success with his audience
The first edition of the “festival” was in fact four storytelling evenings held at the Vieux Saint-Etienne Theatre, that had just re-opened. “Children and students who weren’t used to this kind of artistic event, as well as story-tellers who were used to a completely different kind of audience, all fell head of heals for the idea”, reminisced Maël Le Goff. Supported by the town and the director of the Tourist Office at the time, Mythos slowly transformed into a vocal arts festival. “We quickly opened up the festival to other kinds of vocal arts: narrative theatre, slam poetry, poems and songs. Singing was introduced for the second edition as a counterpoint to story-tellers, to give the event a more festive feel and revert to the standard definition of a “Festival”.
The biggest magic mirror in the world
The link between all these genres is made thanks to the circle formed by the audience around the artists. And the perfect setting is a Magic Mirror that has become the emblem of the Mythos festival – the botanical cabaret – a true turning point in its history.
Under the wooden marquee, the public can revive “a new form of evening entertainment”. According to the Artistic Director of Mythos, “we feel the audience’s strong desire to gather, form a circle and listen to stories. Travelling back to ancestral practices, that have been somewhat forgotten over the past few years, to the benefit of our marvellous television sets”.
The Mythos version of the Magic Mirror has grown every year, now reaching an XXL format. It measures 29 metres in diameter and has a capacity of 1,500 people, making it the biggest in the world according to organisers.
“Chemistry in a bucolic place of heritage”
Initially set up Place Hoche, then in front of the Parliament, its new home is the Thabor park. This is another of the festival’s specificities: its headquarters are in a garden, in the biggest flower garden in Rennes. “The venue is beautiful and contributes to the Mythos Festival’s flavour”, asserts Maël Le Goff, “the festival creates chemistry between a bucolic place of heritage and the Magic Mirrors, fairground bastions with vocal or gastronomic purposes”.
A festival that marks the beginning of spring
Over the years, Mythos has found its place in a very full cultural calendar, and welcomes between 30,000 and 55,000 people over ten days, every year in April. It creates a link between winter and summer…perhaps the Spring Festival quite simply? “Mythos is generally organised when the warmer weather starts to set in, it’s always a bet we make”, says the festival’s creator, “we have even had snow some years, but there are always some nice days. People make the most of some sunshine to lie down in the grass…spring time is here! “
20 years of memories and legendary moments
In the space of 20 years, the festival has had a number of blissful moments. As his favourite, Maël Le Goff remembers the performance by Christophe in 2010, “it was an incredible moment of communion with the audience, all assembled in a circle around a majestic man, in a state of quasi-religious reverence”.
Les toqués, the chefs’ banquet
People can eat in the other tent set up in the Thabor. For the last few editions, the Resto des Toqués has become a “festival within the festival”. Close to seventy chefs are convened to cook for the Cannibale Cabaret Resto.
“Saving the best ’til last”
Both from Brittany and all over France, they tell gourmet stories their own way through the food they serve. “We wanted to take on partners in our project and the chefs were the best people for creating a link between culture, gastronomy and art. They quickly warmed up to the game and love taking part in this crazy atmosphere”, confirms the artistic director. On the menu every day: various culinary surprises, with a special Mythos touch, and a sustainable commitment given that the festival has an eco-responsible approach right to the very last details.