The 72nd Avignon Festival in France (Jul. 6 – 24, 2018)
For this year’s Avignon Festival (Festival d’Avignon), the program focused mainly on European artists. On the program were a long list of big names like Didier Galas, Raymond Hoche, Ivo van Hove, Sasha Waltz, Milo Rau and others. From outside Europe are artists including Iran’s Amir Reza Koohestani, who is currently a resident artist at Munich Kammerspiele, and Egypt’s Ahmen El Attar among others. Attar was also responsible for the programming of the “Arab Focus” program for small-theater artists from the Arab countries in the Avignon Theater Festival OFF held simultaneously with the main festival.
Since Olivier Py became artistic director of the festival, one of the focuses of the festival is story-based drama, and chosen this year for the opening performances in the central court of the Palais des Papes was a production of Seneca’s Thyestes directed by British director Thomas Jolly (b. 1982, associate artist of the National Theatre of Strasbourg). Another work of note was La Reprise, a documentary theatre production by Swiss director Milo Rau based on the story of an actual murder of a gay man in Belgium in 2012. The real tragedy of the man’s murder in the streets on a winter night is played out in all the horrible detain of the brutal murder.
Lille native director Julien Gosselin presented a 10-hour production Players, Mao II, The Names, an adaptation of a book by American author Don DeLillo. The three-volume original deals with the underlying themes of terrorism and violence.
Among the works by young artists, was the production of Medusa by the French artist collective Les bâtards dorés that won the Audience Prize and Jury Prize at the 2017 Festival Impatience, and the cross-genre performance work Romances Inciertos, Another Orlando by the director, playwright, composer and visual artist Nino Laisne and other works.
Founded by actor and director Jean Vilar in 1947, the Avignon Festival has become one of the largest in Europe in terms of the scale, number and quality of new works. 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 that at times spark 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