FINAL REPORT OF THE 65TH FESTIVAL D'AVIGNON - OCTOBER 2011
65th Festival d'Avignon
6-26 July 2011
While preparing this edition, we went back to the letter addressed to old Europe, that we had commissioned from Jacques Derrida as an opening for the Théâtre des idées cycle, in July 2004. In this letter he questioned Europe addressing it in a familiar tone: "I see in you the 'old new Europe,' a Europe that has kept its memories, both good and bad, the luminous and the dark. The luminous basically refers to the idea of philosophy and democracy (...), the Enlightenment and even what is called, in a rather questionable way, 'secularisation.' Let it also keep its gloomy memory, the memory of all the crimes that it has committed throughout history and in its name; all those forms of hegemony, of colonialism, and during the last century, all the European totalitarianism monstrosities: fascism, Nazism, Stalinism. My hope is that your two memories, and especially the awareness and regret that followed what I call your 'gloomy' memory, will help you, my new 'old Europe', take a path that only you can open up today. (...) This change, of course, implies a 'new European political culture. (...) I believe that a desire to involve the heart, the body, the existence and even the affect of the citizens of this new Europe is necessary. A sense of belonging must emerge and a certain European affect must support this new anti-globalization policy. Because (...) I wish to witness the advent of a resolutely anti-globalization Europe, which would put all its strength to serve as a social and cultural model..."
These words are as relevant as ever and remind us how much we must keep faith in the fact that the worst is not always bound to happen and that, despite the rising appeal of nationalism in Europe, artists, researchers and thinkers still believe in our ability to radically change society. The Arab revolutions have shown us how much peoples are longing for freedom.
Democracy is at the heart of the changes taking place in the world today, and it was born at the same time as theatre. The Festival d'Avignon has been aware of it since its creation in 1947, when France was developing a new model of society initiated by the National Council of the Resistance, instituting for instance a public service for arts and culture. A public service that each individual can appropriate and that therefore belongs to everyone. A forum for individual development and emancipation, in which contradiction has its place as long as it follows rules shared by everyone; a place where we can learn to talk, to listen to one another, to doubt, to dream, to think, to be free and live together.
This is the challenge of modernity; a modernity that draws its strength from memory and that we try to reinvent every year through the artistic creations we propose. We are driven by this intention - and will still be for the next three editions - and also by our project to build a rehearsal and residence centre in Monclar for the Festival d'Avignon. This new phase in the history of the Festival, that will provide it an essential working tool to confront the future and remain a place for artistic adventure, will also give us the opportunity to rethink the symbolic and solidarity role of art. In fact, with this new venue that will open in 2013, we will become the inhabitants of an area of the town marked by a great social and cultural diversity, and find our own way of taking part in its life. With this project, the two founding principles Jean Vilar established when he created the Festival d'Avignon - creation and focus on a wide public - will be associated in the most accurate way.
This 65th edition was conceived in a dialogue with Boris Charmatz who is primarily a dancer. He is a dancer when he interprets or improvises and when he choreographs, disrupting the usual codes and boundaries of dance to put the body in intense or unexpected states, a concrete and poetic writing. He is also a committed artist who sets himself in motion to question in a different way the creative process, both the artist and the spectator's part, the performance venues and places for sharing.
During this Festival, the major existential questions will ring out once again: questions that haunt the theatrical tragic figures, underlying in the historical destinies embodied on our stages through the work of authors, directors and actors; questions expressed through the authors' words and through the language of choreographed bodies. Movement will be at the centre of the presented works, but also transgression of desire, transmission, the experience of childhood and its conflicting relationships with our society, our own relationship to forgetting and denial.
Standing upright to experience joys and disasters, growing up, setting ourselves in motion, resisting reactionary or demagogic temptations, either individually or collectively: we sincerely wish all these elements will be part of the energy of this edition.
Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller
Avignon, 19 April 2011
FINAL REPORT OF THE 65TH FESTIVAL D'AVIGNON - OCTOBER 2011
2011 FIRST REPORT
65th Festival d'Avignon
6-26 July 2011
The 65th Festival will end on Tuesday 11 July 2011 with the last performances of Sang & Roses - Le Chant de Jeanne et Gilles staged by Guy Cassiers in the Cour d'honneur of the Palais des papes, Fase by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Danses libres by Cecilia Bengolea and Francois Chaignaud, Sur le concept du visage du fils de Dieu by Romeo Castellucci as well as Mademoiselle Julie staged by Frédéric Fisbach. This show will also be broadcast the same evening on France 2 at 10.25 p.m. and projected at 10 p.m. outdoors in the Verger Urbain-V (free admission). The installations of the École d'Art and Stéphane Couturier's exhibition presented at the Maison des Vins will remain open until the end of the Festival. The Off will continue until 31 July 2011.
Conceived with the choreographer and dancer Boris Charmatz, the Festival's associate artist, this edition crossed theatre and dance, but also the visual arts and music. The Festival d'Avignon has asserted itself, once again, as a place for openness and dialogue, in the Festival's spirit since 1967, when Jean Vilar had already brought together these different art forms.
This year, the shows raised a few major societal questions such as our relationship with childhood and transmission, with history and memory, and queried what the notions of "resistance" and "community" represent today. The Théâtre des idées reflected these themes by asking several intellectuals to come and share their thinking, such as during the memorable encounter between Stéphane Hessel and Edgar Morin.
The energy of creation was the driving force of the Festival d'Avignon. Out of the 37 shows (apart from the eight Sujets à Vif and the Vingt-cinquième heure), 26 had never before been performed or were premieres in France. Many artists responded to the Festival's invitation by creating shows that echo the architecture and history of sites in Avignon, such as the works held at the Cour d'honneur and the Cloître des Carmes. This programming featured both major names in theatre and dance as well as a new generation of artists who tackled the stage with a great deal of freedom, whether they were directors, choreographers or interpreters.
This 65th edition of the Festival d'Avignon was marked by the engagement and curiosity of spectators who came in droves to see the Festival's proposals, especially those presented at unusual performance times.
For the sixth straight year, global attendance exceeded 90%. The number of tickets sold should reach 128,000 (12,000 more than in 2010) out of a total capacity of 138,000, corresponding to an attendance rate of 93%. Once again, the public massively showed its desire to take part in the Festival, investing all the debate, discussion and encounter sites that were made available to them (11,000 people at the École d'Art, 5,000 at the Théâtre des idées).
The Festival's team has continued its actions on opening to new publics, in particular by organizing, with the Ceméas, the stay of nearly 800 secondary school students from all over France, pursuing its collaboration with the Centre pénitencier of Avignon-Le-Pontent and promoting the presence at the Festival of young people from Avignon introduced to the theatre by the Amis du Festival association. To better understand the specific nature of the Festival's public, the University of Avignon and the Vauclause is in the process of conducting a new survey of spectators.
The Festival d'Avignon is a venue for political debates and discussions on cultural policies where meetings are held by political parties and elected officials in the culture sector. During this edition, many candidates in the next presidential election came to the Festival to attend shows, talk with spectators and present the cultural part of their platform.
A venue for mobilization, the Festival d'Avignon debated the place of culture in European construction, notably in the Rencontres Européennes, organized with the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence and the Rencontres d'Arles. With the Festival, Marcel Bozonnet and other artists launched an appeal for solidarity with the Syrian people, in their struggle to win their freedom.
The next two editions are already in the making while the project, in the Monclar district, of creating a rehearsal and residence venue for the Festival d'Avignon is taking shape. It will open its doors in June 2013 and will permit the Festival to better accompany artists in the future in their creations and to intensify, with them, throughout the year, its work on cultural democratization in the Avignon area.
Simon McBurney, actor, director and director of the British company Théâtre de Complicité, will be the associate artists of the 2012 edition of the Festival d'Avignon. For the 2013 Festival, Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller have chosen two associate artists: the author, actor and director Dieudonné Niangouna of Brazzaville, and the actor and director Stanislas Nordey.
Avignon, 24 July 2011