The 71st Avignon Festival held in France (Jul. 6 – 26, 2017)
Artistic Director Oliver Py called this year’s Avignon Festival with its program of 40 invited works from all over the world the “most international program ever.” Some of the prominent names on the program include German director Frank Castorf, British director Katie Mitchell, Belgian director Guy Cassiers, Portuguese director Tiago Rodrigues, Australian director Simon Stone, Burkina Faso-born choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly and Japanese director Satoshi Miyagi. Also, in a return to the spirit of the festival’s founder, Jean Vilar, a program of “popular theater” that can be enjoyed by men and women of all ages was also prepared. This program was characterized by many works of classical narrative theater by the likes of Ibsen, Molière, Shakespeare and Sophocles that could be enjoyed by all. Satoshi Miyagi became the first Japanese director ever to direct a production for the festival opening at the Palais des Papes with his production of Antigone. For it, he had the entire stage covered with a thin layer of water to create a sense of the constant and subtle fluctuations of the dualisms of reality and illusion, life and death good an evil that typify traditional Christian values, which brought him positive reviews. Also, in a production of Hamlet directed by Oliver Py himself, he creates a picture of the family not as a nest of love and tranquility but, in contrast, as a “Den of Violence.”
The Avignon Festival was founded by actor and director Jean Vilar in 1947 and has grown to become one of Europe’s foremost performing arts festivals in terms of the scale, number and quality of new works presented. From 2004, the festival has adopted an “associate artist” system under which a different artist is chosen every year to participate in the selection of the next festival’s program. In recent years, the program includes about 40 works performed at some 20 venues around the city, with the central court of the Palais des Papes and the Carrière de Boulbon quarry as two of the main venues. Visitors during the festival total about 100,000 each year, a number roughly equal to the city’s population. The European press regularly publishes feature articles about the Avignon Festival with daily critiques of the performances. At times it has sparked large-scale debates in the theater world, as was the case with the works of Jan Fabre in 2005. Held simultaneously with the festival is the Avignon Theater Festival OFF (http://www.avignonleoff.com/) presenting a large number of works. The OFF festival adopts an open participation policy. Also, in addition to performing arts many exhibitions, concerts, poetry readings and other events are held, bringing a festive mood to the entire city throughout the festival’s run. Director Olivier Py was appointed festival director in 2013. The 2014 festival featured from Japan Maharabharata, l’episode du roi Nata directed by Satoshi Miyagi and French master Claude Régy directed Japanese actors in a production of Maurice Maeterlinck’s Intérieur.
- Festival d’Avignon