VariaBy Patricia Heiniger-Castéret
The pastoral is a form of theater chanted, sung, and danced by amateurs. Chiefly practiced in France’s Hautes-Pyrénées and Pyrénées-Atlantiques departments, it is particularly vibrant today in the valleys and foothills of Béarn, as well as the Basque valleys of Soule. Organized by a village or neighborhood, it depicts the life of a hero or heroine, combining the real and the supernatural. Two teams battle for four hours, the blues against reds, or the good guys against the bad guys. The organization of this ritualized theater mobilizes the community for several months, stirring up the tensions that also undermine it. However, the greatest battle involves gaining a reputation vis-a-vis neighboring communities.