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Former French justice minister Taubira hails refugees at Avignon festival reading

Christiane Taubira takes part in On aura tout
Christiane Taubira takes part in On aura tout Siegfried Forster / RFI

France’s former justice minister Christiane Taubira called for solidarity with refugees at the first of a series of readings that touch on social issues at the 2017 Avignon Festival.


Over the years the Avignon Festival has been criticised for being either too political or not political enough. On aura tout (We Will Have it All) is clearly political with readings of literary or other works on different kinds of struggles.

The first episode of this live performance series of readings was about migrants, refugees and exile.

In 2015, under the direction of Olivier Py, the festival introduced a free-of-charge public-interest daily series in the Ceccano Library Garden. The first time the subject was Plato’s Republic. The committed and the curious are invited this year to take part in On aura tout.

Anne-Laure Liégeois directs students from the French National Drama Conservatory, local people and four actors in daily readings of prose or poetry, 245 pieces in total throughout the festival. She coordinates the stage work based on literature chosen by Christiane Taubira, the justice minister in the previous Socialist government who is from French Guyana.

Taubira, 65, opened the first session on Saturday. She drew such a big crowd that many people were left outside the gates of the 260-seat-capacity garden. The politician gave a short introductory speech where she mentioned her trademark struggles for equal rights for women and for French people of the overseas territories and departments and against the death penalty, “a state crime”.

Migration was the day’s theme and, before concluding with the late Martiniquais writer Aimé Césaire’s poem Chemin (Path), she commented that “refugees are like us, and in this 21st century all of humanity should without delay accomplish the quintessentially human acts of saving lives and sharing the same planet. And then we will see that the plagues that we suffer are not fortuitous or divine punishment but due to our own actions.”

Taubira said literature, writing and politics are all part of her daily routine, and “while they are not the same, they are equally important”.

On aura tout is performed daily from 8-23 July and reminds us how much progress our societies have made, how fragile progress is and how much more could be done.

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