Avignon Festival- “IN”

Posted on July 21, 2014

I was fortunate to attend the Avignon festival for the first time in my life, having always avoided this hot spot of French high art theatre and dance in my British Council role, deeming it too impenetrable an “IN” and too fringey a Fringe to put up much potential for partnership. This time I was in with the IN-crowd having wheedled two of our artists into an international collaboration project hosted by the festival itself. This involved our two under 35 year old, francophone art makers in a punishing eight day itinerary through the festival’s complete programme, as well as numerous meetings with makers, dramaturgs and festival organisers. A golden ticket for them.
I was able to get tickets for four festival shows which made me feel pretty good as the whole thing was sold out months in advance and there was considerable jockeying, begging and buying at inflated prices of tickets all around.
The highlight was the stunning Japanese version of the Mahabarata in the iconic Carriere de Boulbon- the out of town quarry that provided an incredible backdrop to Satoshi Miyagi’s paper costumed performers- http://www.english.rfi.fr/visiting-france/20140714-Satoshi-Miyagi’s-stunning-Mahabharata-matches-perfect-setting-near-Avignon


I was riveted by Ivo van Hove’s The Fountainhead, and good thing too as the whole production lasted 4.5 hours, with a brief interval providing some much needed respite from the jumble in my head between Dutch spoken performance and French surtitles of Ayn Rand’s busy text.


I was mightily disappointed by Robyn Orlin, having loved some of her earlier works. The word on the street is that she is simply producing too much and this festival premiere was too thin.


I battled my way through Festival Director, Olivier Py’s Vitrioli, a violently melodramatic Greek text using an 80’s style scenography. I could not get into it.
In the Cour of the Cloitre St Anne, the professionals’ meeting point, I took in some theoretical and political presentations about the Intermittant strikes plaguing the French arts sector.
I also networked day and night with visiting colleagues from lands near and far- Korea, Belgium etc- and exposed myself, this time with limited psychological bruising, to the French performing arts sector en mass- 377 presenters- at the annual ONDA meeting.
With no evening finishing before 1am and many days starting with a 9am meeting or 10am show, this was an intense experience.