Theater festivals are contact zones for artists and audiences alike. They are an integral part of late 20th century globalized theater. Their origins, however, go back much further. The birth of the modern theater festival is usually dated to 1876 with the first Bayreuth Festival, which was founded to perform Richard Wagner's Ring cycle. Exact numbers are hard to tell, but we can estimate from the published visitor's lists some very interesting numbers. In 1876 some 1,900 festival guests attended from 22 different countries. And almost a third of all festival guests came from abroad or overseas. The Bayreuth Festival remains, however, something of an anomaly, devoted as it is to the works of just one composer. The history of modern theater and music festivals begins in 1919 with the Salzburg Festival, founded by Max Reinhardt and Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Salzburg is modern, not only in terms of its concept of showcasing a variety of plays, operas, and orchestras, but also in terms of its economics. In his application to the Austrian emperor, Max Reinhardt stressed the economic advantages. Such a festival, Reinhardt argued, would be a drawcard for affluent tourists from abroad who would make a significant contribution to the economy of the region. Now this is the argument still used today to justify festivals. After the Second World War we see the establishment of several important international theater festivals, such as that in Edinburgh, Avignon, Adelaide, and so on. Apart from the economic benefits, festivals are seen as contact zones between nations and cultures, a site of networking and connectivity on a cultural and artistic level. They're important for another reason, too. They provide a key economic basis for many artistically ambitious groups that are often labeled experimental or avant garde. One can speak of an economy of experimentation, in as much as festivals often enable such groups to make a living, especially in countries where there is little public money to support such work. Now, let us look at one internationally renowned theater artist whose career owes much to theater festivals, Robert Lepage. The French-Canadian director Robert Lepage has been able to productively combine the artistic and economic aspects of the festival network. He can be considered the pre-eminent festival director of the 1990s. Not only do his works have global themes, often portraying different cultures, but his method of producing is based on networks of festivals that contribute to the costs. His works are usually multilingual, often produced in different versions, French and English, which is aligned with Canada's bilingual status. A large scale Lepage production such as The Seven Streams of the River Ota that toured the world in the 1990s, or The Blue Dragon in the 2000s, can run up to eight hours, involve several languages including Japanese or Chinese, and is usually visually exciting. Lepage is known for combining visual conventions from film, television, or even circus to inform his theater production. His beginnings however were in experimental theater in Quebec in the 1980s with a small theater group known Theatre Repere. Here he developed a method of collaborative or devised play making. When making new works Lepage never starts with a pre-existing script. Instead, he and his actors experiment with what he calls, resources. These can be objects or childhood memories. They're collected and built into a narrative. A low level of state subsidy, about 12% at the time, forced Lepage and his team to create a new business model: the multi-festival production to which different festivals contribute financially. They share the risks and enable the artists to work with a great deal of autonomy. Lepage has also staged shows for Cirque du Soleil, the Quebec-based circus that puts on spectacular entertainments all over the world. Lepage represents both an innovative artistic method that uses individual creative resources and a means of production that harnesses the financial resources of a globalized festival economy.