Avignon Festival - Art Festival in 2019

By Swathi Ramaswamy on Dec 21, 2018
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The Avignon Festival is one of the biggest performing arts market in France, counting more than 1000 theatre troupes and more than 1300 different performances. The Off is the premier market where all popular theatre shows in the world are performed. With more than 3500 programmers, journalists, producers etc attending the festival. The city is taken over by the living arts during the four weeks of the festival and makes the theatres of the city flourish. Be it inexperienced amateurs or the most famous actors, no prior selection takes place.

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1. The origin of Avignon festival

The Avignon festival was started by Jean Vilar, who aimed to attract a fresh and young audience through a form of theatre that was not very similar to the ones that existed in Paris during that period. He was looking for a revolution in the field of theatres, wanted to provide a more open space to the art so that something new can be infused. He wanted to reconcile the architecture with the dramatic forms. Jean Vilar soon developed an attachment with the actors who used to perform every July in front of a devoted audience. The festival marked the rebirth of French theatre while serving as a guideline and encouraging other theatrical experiments. 

2. A small glimpse on the facts of Avignon Festival 

Founded in 1947, this festival is one of the biggest international contemporary live performance events which is celebrated every year in the month of July. Avignon turns into a theatre town and its architectural heritage into something majestic and surprising, while it welcomes thousands of theatre lovers of all generations. Many spectators from far away land spend several days in Avignon during this festival. The festival is an original and successful alliance between an international creativity and mainstream audience. Avignon is not a festival but a state of mind where festival goers talk about the show and also share their experiences. For a month a contemporary living culture can be accessed by them.  

3. The process of the celebration of Avignon festival 

An associate artist puts together each instalment of the Avignon festival, which works together for mapping out an artistic territory. The whole event is inspired by their enquiries, practices and passions apart from their own creations. This programme consists of more than 30 teams who display their work at the festival. Shows, exhibitions, readings, and discussions provide a gateway to this artist’s world. So, an element of risks persists and every artist participating in the festival shares this risk. Every night one or more premieres are shown in the festival thus making Avignon a place of adventure, creativity and many more for all the spectators as well as artists.

4. Facts about Avignon Festival

Considered as one of the longest-running theatre festivals of the world, this festival is an annual celebration where all theatre companies from France and foreign suits go to the city for showcasing their works to many audiences. This festival spanning for three weeks takes place in the month of summer in France transforming the city into a great amphitheatre, as the performances are held in more than twenty venues all around the city. The length of the festivities along with places to visit is all worth it.  The festival has two categories, they are the “In” festival and the “Out” festival. The “In” Festival deals with the shows and performances accredited by the government-appointed panel of organizers which includes the city government of Avignon. These shows are marked as “officials”, whereas, the “Out” Festival deals with “unofficial performances”. Avignon’s panel of organizers does not regulate the shows that are presented under this classification. 

On every July, the southern city of Avignon converts into a theater with actors, directors, playwrights flocking together on the medieval town. During this time, thespians perform in every opera house, church, playhouse and even on the streets. All are part of Avignon Theater Festival. During this time of the year, the walls of Avignon get covered with posters, while the actors and musicians invade the streets.

However, from the year 2014, the director of the main festival of Avignon is Olivier Py, who has versatile qualities in acting, directing, playwright and music. He is holding the post for the first time after Jean Vilar. Many free events are laid by him that emphasize emerging talent along with the well-known names. There are many productions that are staged outside the city.

This year, the festival will begin in the courtyard of Palais des Papes. It will picture the Seneca’s Thyestes which is directed by Thomas Jolly. Jolly 36 is a wunderkind when it comes to French theatre. His production of Shakespeare’s Henry VI was the main attraction of Avignon in the year 2014. The main aim of Vilar as the Festival’s artistic director was to make the French culture more widely accessible. Today the festival occupies a very important place internationally in the history of art festivals all over the world. But the festival suffers from language barriers. Although the festival is held at a very popular location, enough tourists are not getting attracted to the festival for the past few years due to this only factor. The festival is trying to make up this flaw by including visually-oriented events and inviting English artists. The main focus of the festival is its spectacular setting that accommodates 2000 spectators.

 This festival portrays a rich mixture of dance, theater, comedy, mime and film. The festival also premiers many new productions, many of which are recognized not only nationally, but also internationally. The festival starts with an opening procession through the Avigon’s centre and can be a priceless experience for any art lover.

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