Report: Avignon Festival 2015

Undocumented migrants, King Lear in French and RFI feature in Avignon Festival 2015

Authors chosen for RFI's Avignon Festival, Ca va, ça va le monde, readings from 16th to 21st  July 2015
Authors chosen for RFI's Avignon Festival, Ca va, ça va le monde, readings from 16th to 21st July 2015 DR

The Avignon Festival strikes out into less well-known territory to find its roots this year. The official "In" festival in its 69th year with about 40 productions or coproductions. The private Off Association celebrates it's 50th anniversary with, say the organisers, about 1,000 shows from 28 countries.


For the best part of the month of July, theAvignon Festival attracts thousands of people who converge on the city.

As every year, there's something for everyone at the biggest performing arts event of its kind in Europe in venues ranging from historic monuments to the cobbled streets.


Of the 47 productions in the Avignon Festival In, four of the directors from France are under 40-years-old,  young in terms of the career of a stage director.

One of them, 35-year-old Laurent Brethome, preopens the festival on Saturday afternoon in the 13th century Unesco heritage city of Avignon.

The play he directs, Riquet, is written by Antoine Herniotte and targets an audience of eight-years-old and up. So the very first play is a lower-key but open-to-all beginning on Saturday afternoon.

After nightfall on Saturday, in the open-air Pope's Palace courtyard, the grander kick-off can be expected with festival director Olivier Py's own staging, and own translation into French, of Shakespeare's King Lear, Le Roi Lear.

Avignon is known for its international flavour and Py, with his team now in their second year at the helm, are pursuing this line in spite of belt-tightening.

One play called 81 Avenue Victor Hugo links France and the rest of the world. It's about, and with, undocumented migrants from Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Dhaka who live in a squat in the north of Paris. Other plays are directed and performed by artists from Argentina, Egypt, Estonia, Israel and Poland amongst others.

Many events are scheduled in the Avignon Festival, such as exhibitions or debates, not only live theatre shows.

In the second half of July 2015, before the festival packs up for another year, RFI's Ca va, ça va le Monde gives listeners an opportunity to hear some brand new or more established plays.

Most of the works are new, and include one from Padro Kadivar from Iran called Terre Natal-Native Country, and from Congo, one written and read by Julien Mabiala Bissila from Congo, who won the RFI Theatre Writing Award in 2014,with his Chemin de Fer. Also from Bissila's compatriot, the late Sony Labou Tansi who died 20 years ago, Je Soussigné Cardiaque (I the Undersigned Heart-Patient).

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