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Festival d’Avignon: All That is Beyond Ourselves

festival avignon, olivier py,
Written by Marc Pagnier Published Jun 22, 2014 Marc Pagnier

Rédacteur en Chef des titres en anglais, français et chinois.

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Festival d’Avignon will take place from 4th-27th July, under the new directorship of Olivier Py. 

festival avignon, olivier py,

Olivier Py © Christophe Raynaud de Lage

Olivier Py said, “the Festival played a key role in the inception of decentralization and in the development of the public theatre. It is the initiator of the French cultural policy. That history still resonates today, encouraging us to face new challenges, because we are loyal to ideas but not tradition.” Avignon is a cultural melting pot every summer. While the rampart of the city is still standing, the soul of the city is not enclosed, and its politics is inseparable from thoughts and hope. It is a political yet poetic Festival. Going back to its origin, Olivier Py said “the Festival d’Avignon is a driving force for popular education, both as a shared experience of world cultures and as an acknowledgement of individual cultures….it is us who need the neighbourhoods but not the other way around, just like the reality does not need poetry but poetry cannot be disconnected from reality.”

Performing artists from Israel, South Africa, New-Zealand, Romania, Egypt and Brazil will adhere to the same theme: to define a border, to experience it, to break through it, to fight against it. Their aim is to overcome all limits though theatre, dance and music so as to make the circulation of ideas and human beings much easier than that of commercial products. The Festival is “interdisciplinary, and is for all from 7 to 107 years old.” Twenty-five choreographs, producers and theatre directors have never been to Avignon before and about half of them are under the age of 35.

One must not think of the world in terms of inside and outside, of inclusion and exclusion, but as a never-ending voyage from elsewhere to here, and from here to elsewhere. Perhaps we may achieve this when, in the Cour d’honneur, under the starry sky, the words of a German Romantic poet are made flesh by French and Belgian actors through the imagination of an Italian director, creating a world where fantasy becomes action and action is truly the twin sister of dream.

Jean Vilar, founder of the Festival, defined the Festival as such: “the sky, the night, the text, the people and the celebration”. Olivier Py goes further: “a sky that would be benign rather than severe; a night that would not belong to despair; a text, be it classic or new, would necessarily speak to our times; a people proud of its differences; a celebration of the mind.”


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