Press conference of the 27th July 2009
63rd Festival d'Avignon
7-29 July 2009
The festival programme has been conceived together with this year's associate artist: playwright and director Wajdi Mouawad. During our dialogue over the last two years we talked about the importance of telling stories and about memory, about theatre, painting and literature, we explored our respective relationship with a world in turmoil. We also travelled together to significant places of his own story, from Beyrouth to Montreal, he told us about his Lebanese childhood during the war, his exile to France then Quebec, about the anger burning inside him when confronted to the incoherence of the world.
Enriched by this dialogue, we invited artists to come and create new pieces of work for the 63rd edition of the festival. Now, as each one of these projects is coming to life, strong resonances emerge with the issues raised by recent events; the upheaval in Madagascar, the youth protests in Greece, the deaths in Gaza, the financial crisis and its serious social consequences, the election of Barack Obama.
Telling stories makes Man more human and helps him comprehend the world and fight the temptation of amnesia. Stories have inhabited theatre stages since the origins, they've bound us together but we've also learnt to be wary of them, particularly when they carry nothing but certainties, or when the emotions they generate are instrumentalised by economic, political or religious powers.
Our experiences as an audience, this summer, will be fed by multiple stories, fictions and documentaries. Artists from different geographical -Canada and the Mediterranean- as well as artistic territories, will come to share with us their questionings on the state of the world. We'll hear many languages: Polish, Arabic, Spanish... and French spreading several continents. We'll see texts - from Greek tragedy to contemporary drama - cross with choreography, visual arts and also, this year, with cinema.
In the difficult times our societies are going through, we want this festival to be creative and impertinent, angry and enthusiastic and, in all cases, alive. We are expecting you, artists and audiences, in Avignon this summer, to make theatre happen and testify together of its necessity, its diversity and its vitality.
Hortense Archambault, Vincent Baudriller
Avignon, March 12th 2009
Press conference of the 27th July 2009
An Evaluation of the 63nd Edition of the Festival d'Avignon
The 63rd edition of the Festival d'Avignon ended on Wednesday 29th of July with Casimir et Caroline directed by Johan Simons and Paul Koek, Loin... by Rachid Ouramdane and Ciels by Wajdi Mouawad.
Inspired by the world and the practice of the associate artist Wajdi Mouawad, the forty artistic teams invited this year proposed many narratives of the world, of its history, of its political and economic violence, private and public, seen from different territories, from Madagascar to Warsaw, from Beirut to Montreal. The artists testified of their own concerns about the state of the world and its memory with hope and vitality. The questions raised by the performances fed many in-depth debates, not only with philosophers in the Théâtre des idées or during the meetings with artists at the Ecole d'Art, but also between festival-goers, never in a polemic way.
The performances presented very diverse aesthetic forms, from fiction to documentary, from performing arts to cinema, from Greek tragedy to contemporary writing, from seriousness to humour. The richness of the French language and the diversity of foreign languages (made understandable via to surtitles) were widely presented across the stages. A place for artistic discoveries for the audience as well for professionals from all around the world, the Festival played its role as an international platform for the artists, in particular when a translation into English was proposed for some francophone performances.
Through the filming and broadcast of two performances (Angelo, tyran de Padoue on France 2 on the 17th of July and Casimir et Caroline on Arte on the 29th of July), television continued to spread the Festival's influence beyond the city walls.
The Festival d'Avignon once again testified of the vitality of live performing arts, with 42 shows of which three quarters were premieres, for almost 275 performances, during 23 days in 21 venues, almost all of them specially created for the Festival. There were also readings, an exhibition and 36 films of Territoires cinématographiques at the Utopia cinema (8 of which previews).
The Festival d'Avignon has reached the same high rate of attendance as for the 2008 edition, that is to say 94% of a total capacity of 133,000 seats (estimation of 125,000 tickets delivered). This year again, with the success of the programme proposed, the Festival unfortunately could not answer to all the audience's demand of tickets in particular between the 12th and the 22nd of July.
We can add the 2,600 persons who attended the screenings of Territoires cinématographiques and the 13,000 persons who participated to free events like the performance Non, the readings or the Théâtre des idées.
L'Ecole d'Art, home to the Spectators' foyer for the third year consecutive year, welcomed 13,000 visitors who came to attend a meeting with an artist, to visit one or several exhibitions or to get information about the performances and the artists invited.
The Festival continued to develop its outreach activities to target new audiences, with for instance the visit of 700 secondary school pupils from various regions in France organised in partnership with the CEMEA, with also the presence of young people of Avignon, initiated to the theatre by the organisation des Amis du Festival and the deepened collaboration with the prison in Le Pontet.
In the difficult economic context which characterised this year, we noticed the strong will of spectators to discover artists and singular languages and that talk to them in a free way. Faced with a broad demand from the audience, the performing arts sector encounters increasing difficulties to finance the production of the shows. To tackle the issue, it is necessary to increase solidarity between theatres to accompany artists and above all to launch a plan to revive the cultural sector. These questions were central to numerous professional debates and meetings during the Festival. To make this dimension more visible, a guide for the performing arts professional was published, listing all the professional debates, meetings and information points in Avignon.
The year 2009 will have been marked by the death of the composer Maurice Jarre. His famous trumpets still continue to call the spectators to the venues of the Festival; marked also by the death of the author and stage director André Benedetto of the Théâtre des Carmes which embodied the free spirit that gave birth to the fringe, and by the death of the choreographer Pina Bausch who, in the Eighties, wrote a new page in the history of dance at the Festival.
Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller have chosen the writer Olivier Cadiot and the director Christoph Marthaler as the associate artists for the next edition. The programme will be unveiled in March 2010.