Circuses can’t compare to the madcap. Unesco-acclaimed halqa ( street theatre ) in Marrakech’s main square.By day, ” La place ” draws crowds with astrologers, snake-charmers, acrobats and dentists with jars of pulled teeth. Around sunset, 100 restaurant stalls kick off the world’s most raucous grilling competition. ” I teach Jamie Oliver everything he knows ! ” brags a chef. ” We’re number one..literally ! ‘jokes the cook at stall number one. After dinner way _ audience participation is always encouraged, and spare change ensures encores.
Think of it as live-action channel-surfing: everywhere you look in the Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech’s main square and open-air theatre, you’ll discover drama already in progress. The hoopla and halqa has been non-stop here ever since this plaza was the site of public executions around AD 1050 – hence its name, which means ‘ assembly of the dead ‘.
By 10am, the daily performance is under-way. Snake charmers blast oboes to calm hissing cobras; henna tattoo artists beckon to passersby, water-sellers in fringed hats clang brass cups together, hoping to drive people to drink. The show doesn’t peak until shadows fall and 100 chefs arrive with grills in tow, cueing musicians to tune up their instrument. this is a show you don’t want to miss – but stay alert to horse-drawn-carriage traffic, pick-pockets and rogue gropers. Arrive early in the evening to nab prime seats on makeshift stools ( women and elders get preference ).
Applause and a few dirhams ensure an encore. It’s bargain show, and critically acclaimed too: for bringing urban legends and oral history to life nightly , Unesco declared the Djemmaa el-Fna a ‘ Masterpiece of World Heritage ‘ in 2001.