La Machine, the world-renowned French street theater and machine art company, is in Ottawa, Canada to prepare for a weekend performance all across the streets of downtown. The spectacle is a highlight of Ottawa’s year-long celebration of 150 years of the Canadian confederation (#Ottawa150). It’s the group’s first full-scale performance in North America.

Four days of drama are about to unfold. It starts Thursday evening with the awakening of Kumo, the giant spider. Long Ma, the gorgeous dragon-horse, comes alive Friday morning. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, these creatures will roam the streets of downtown Ottawa, with confrontations on both Saturday and Sunday night. The show includes live orchestra, pyrotechnics, and incredible moments of giant machines navigating city infrastructure and streetscape.

The 75+ French crew have been at their staging site just a few miles outside of central Ottawa for two weeks now. Temporary buildings, tents for dining and for working, large cranes, forklifts, and a small shop inside a shipping container make up the worksite. I only visited for a while during a very rainy bit on Monday. (The weather looks great for this weekend!) Here are a few shots from my visit:

François Delarozière (Art Director, right), Frédette Lampre (Production Manager, middle) and team hover over a conference call, working through last logistics.

The full schedule gives you an idea of what is about to happen:

DAY 1: Thursday, July 27
8 pm – Kumo awakens near the National Gallery of Canada

DAY 2: Friday, July 28
10 am – Long Ma awakens at City Hall
10:30 am – Long Ma Walkabout: departs from City Hall
2 pm – Kumo Walkabout: departs from the National Gallery
2 pm – Long Ma Walkabout: departs from the National Gallery
8 pm – Kumo Walkabout: departs from the Shaw Centre
8 pm – Long Ma Walkabout: departs from City Hall

DAY 3: Saturday, July 29
11 am – Kumo Walkabout: ByWard Market
11 am – Long Ma Walkabout: ByWard Market
3 pm – Long Ma Walkabout: departs from the ByWard Market
3:10 pm – Kumo Walkabout: departs from the ByWard Market
8: 30 pm – Long Ma Walkabout: departs from City Hall
9:30 pm – STATIC SCENE: Kumo and Long Ma at the Supreme Court of Canada

Day 4: Sunday, July 30
2:30 pm – Kumo Walkabout: departs from the Supreme Court of Canada
3 pm – Long Ma Walkabout: departs from the Supreme Court of Canada
8:30 pm – Long Ma Walkabout: departs from the Chaudière Falls
9 pm – STATIC SCENE: Kumo and Long Ma at the Canadian War Museum

I think the people of Ottawa know what is coming, but they may not be able to anticipate how it will make them feel when they experience it. I had the privilege to see Kumo’s performance in Nantes last year at Maker Faire Nantes. A warning to the fine citizens of Ottawa: their show made me openly weep — and I’m not a weeper.

Stay tuned for more coverage of La Machine in Ottawa.