Festival Feats

Circus Poster
This week, CBS News Sunday Morning's search for Diversions leads it to the U.S. debut of the French circus troupe Les Colporteurs.

For nearly three weeks each year, the graceful Southern city of Charleston, S.C., turns into one of the hottest arts destinations in the world.

The 24th annual Spoleto Festival USA this year opens in the midst of a rare controversy: the continuing boycott against the state's tourism industry called by the NAACP over the Confederate flag controversy.

(The state's General Assembly has approved a new law removing the flag from atop the Statehouse dome and legislative chambers, but flying a similar flag at the Confederate Soldier Monument in front of the Statehouse.)

At Spoleto, arts lovers seek out chamber music, jazz and opera, dance and theatrical performances, exhibits and lectures.

This year, the circus troupe known as Les Colporteurs was added to the mix. Their appearance here is the first in a series of performances in several U.S. cities in the summer of 2000.

The troupe, formed only in 1997, performs its gravity-defying aerial production called Filao in a one-ring candy-striped tent, where everyone in the audience is in the center of the action.

The production gets its name and its inspiration from an Italo Calvino novella, The Baron In The Trees, about a 13-year-old Italian noble named Filao who defies his parents by climbing into a tree and staying there. Les Colporteurs, too, seeks to hover between Earth and sky, and address universal issues of transcendence and freedom.

Filao's producers bill their show as a tale about the precariousness of "life at the top."

Les Colporteurs, by the way, translates roughly as "peddlers who carry their goods on their backs."

But their 14 performances at Spoleto are not the only high points of the festival. There's also jazz, opera, dance and theater. It's a place where the old guard meets the avant garde.

Spoleto Festival USA runs from May 19 through June 12, 2000 at Canon Park in Charleston, South Carolina. For more information, see the official Spoleto 2000 Site.

  • To find out more about Les Colporteurs' schedule for the summer of 2000, click on Les Colporteurs.
  • For more information about arts festivals around the U.S. this summer, click on Other Diversions.
  • Do you know of a great destination that Sunday Morning could include in this series? We hope to use selected suggestions from viewers. Email Us.