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Editorial

CLOUDS, MARVELOUS CLOUDS!

If a work of art can tell the truth, it is because it isn't tangible, or material, or verifiable, or realistic, or exact, or true, or certified, or rational. Because proof wears out the truth, reality disfigures the real, and meaning is nothing more than a hope. Works of art tell the truth, and when we are hungry for the truth, when it seems that all political perspectives have become too outrageously realistic to be honest, works of art become the only truth that we can bear.

It is true that only verified truths can be seen as genuine truths. But what does verified mean? It means that we've traveled along an often arid road to gather in a common hope. Truths are not verified with numbers, but with an unspeakable echo they find within ourselves, with a shared hope. But being the majority isn't enough to restore truth, contrary to what demagogues and other salesmen might say. Far from it, this hunger for the truth can only be real if it is proud to be in the minority. Yes, one must accept being in the minority for love of the Truth.

Times are at the very least dire; we are either overwhelmed by our impotence or guilty of indifference. What alchemy within this inner torment could make us believe that art is the answer? How can we find the strength to still believe in beauty when it seems complicit with the forces of disaster? And yet, there comes a time when we can no longer shy away from what it asks of us. The man who has experienced that sense of wonder in art at least once will never tire of it. And he is unlikely to want to keep that joy to himself like a jealous lover or like a man guarding a shameful treasure; no, he will want to share it.

Times are too dire to give up on hope, to turn art into a mere ornament, and for the beautiful to be distinct from the good. One could theoretically imagine a splendour that would not care for its contemporaries, but could not turn it into theatre in the deepest sense of the word, for theatre, though some may not like it, is always political.

Political doesn't mean partisan, secular, or ideological, since the very act of opening this great outdoors theatre is a political act in and of itself, even if the work thus unfolded were only about dreams of love or a desire for clouds...

Always changing, clouds inspire us, they look neither serious nor substantial, yet their tireless beauty forces us to strive to be better. The dizzying immortality of the stars may overwhelm us, but clouds won't. They won't have the bad taste to survive us, at least. And why would the real always be hard, stiff, dense, rough, immutable, and heavy? Why can't what's most real and true be what's also most fleeting, temporary, indescribable, moving, and fragile? Why couldn't the real be like us, mortal, wandering, uncertain? You don't build the future with stones, but with men. You don't build hope with steel and concrete, but with words. Foam, wind, complicity, tears of wonder, and bursts of laughter are just as real as foundations and arms. We learn of architecture through the clouds, their political engagement gives us hope.

The Festival d'Avignon is a truth with a face and a body, that of its audience, to whom we owe everything. The spectator is a creature of engagement, open, looking towards the unknown, and patient; he doesn't tell art what it should say, he doesn't presume what is or isn't beautiful, he listens to the vital emotional clamour within himself. If he is unruly, it's in the name of fraternity, if he is excessive, it's in the name of liberty, if he is demanding, it's in the name of equality.

Yes, the implications of cultural democracy are so high that they won't leave those peddlers of a standardised future alone, those instigators of imaginary conflicts, those cynical and predatory pessimists. Like the clouds, the marvelous clouds, we're only passing through and gathering in the hopes of finding a greater truth.

Olivier Py

 

 

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  • Spectator's guide 2017

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  • GUIDE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS PROFESSIONAL IN AVIGNON

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  • Bibliography of the 70th edition

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  • Selective bibliography of the authors and artists of the 71st edition (in French)

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