Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller welcomes Olivier Py, next director of the Festival d'Avignon
In 1966, when he was completely rethinking the Festival d'Avignon that he had created 20 years earlier, Jean Vilar wrote: “A work and repetition place is what we lack the most at this time.” The necessity of this venue came directly from the founding idea of the Festival d'Avignon: being both the place for artistic creation and that of its access to the greatest number of people. Forty-seven years later, the Festival will open with the inauguration of the FabricA, a repetition and rehearsal venue in Avignon, located at the juncture of the Monclar and Champfleury districts. This venue will be able in the future, throughout the year, to welcome the Festival's guest teams. They will rehearse their creations there and can be involved in actions to raise the awareness of Avignon's inhabitants on art, and specifically the FabricA's neighbours. We launched this project eight years ago. It was designed by the architect Maria Godlewska, equally financed by the Ministry of Culture and Communication, the city of Avignon, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region and the Vaucluse department, and built in a year by about 20 firms under the project leadership of the Festival.
If we have been able, these last 10 years, to turn our dreams into words and our words into acts, it is because we have been part of a strong history full of a “necessary utopia” to use Jean Vilar's words, because we moved to Avignon to work with and from this territory, and because there were several of us.
For our 10th Festival, it is in the company of two associate artists, Dieudonné Niangouna and Stanislas Nordey, through their viewpoints and our conversations, that we built a programme decidedly turned towards the future and young people. We invited artistic words that come from the outskirts of our cities or our continent that, in a dialogue with a certain European melancholy, powerfully represent today's world and make it possible to live in it.
Through his committed positions and risk-taking, as much artistically as politically, Stanislas Nordey has marked French theatre. Both a discoverer of texts, a director, actor and pedagogue, he always puts the actor at the centre of his approach. Also an actor, director and head of a troupe, Dieudonné Niangouna, from Brazzaville, is equally an author. He proposes a theatre of urgency, enriched by today's reality in the Congo after years of internal conflicts. Eruptive and carnal, his theatre writing is based on lively, scathing and reinvented words, a living language for the living.
The peripheral “districts”, Africa, young people... In preparing this Festival we were marked by these territories of otherness, enriched with an “other” energy: the one that provides the capacity of adaptation, that the shift and awareness of the expanse of the world, its possibilities and its future offer, that of those who create and move forward despite crises and conflicts. Territories often ignored because they force us to ask questions that should be clearly answered: why do we let the ferociousness of prevarication and abuses of power everywhere express themselves in this way? How does it happen that we are sometimes so struck with amnesia faced with history? What reflection of ourselves do we wish to ignore in denying the existence of the other?
Yet, it is sometimes a good thing to picture ourselves elsewhere, to reinvent practicable paths, to open windows and stop being afraid. We must continue to be able to express our anger, laugh at our fear, and vomit injustice. We must continue to dream of utopias and create them. We must continue to assert that things are still, always, unquestionably possible and put an end to this acknowledgement of impotence that lets us believe that there is no alternative in any domain – economic, political or personal.
Art, whether we practice it or look at it, gives us back this place of subject, which authorizes us to think about a destiny for and by ourselves.
We want to share incarnated and responsible words, which engage the one who utters them just like the one who listens to them. Words that flow to express the anger that sometimes invades us when we look at the world deep down, and that reject the bitterness of only being consoled by the existence of a greater destitution in our neighbour.
Poetic, melancholic or furious words, that wash away the feeling of malaise that is ever more perceptible, that reassure because we recognized something inexpressible in the other, that make it possible to once again and always feel alive, capable of loving, loudly protesting and inventing life.
Over the last few years, the Festival has grown alongside the many artists who have accompanied us and who have helped to give it its current face. Its success is due to their courage to come and premiere their shows here and the strong and active participation of the spectators, sharing the risk of their creation.
We would like to thank you for your confidence and your curiosity and we will be happy, with the entire Festival d'Avignon team, to experience this 67th Festival with you.
Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller, directors
Avignon, 7 April 2013
Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller welcomes Olivier Py, next director of the Festival d'Avignon
Final report with D.Niangouna, S.Nordey, H.Archambault V.Baudriller
67th Festival d'Avignon
5-26 July 2013
The 67th Festival d'Avignon ended on Friday 26 July 2013.
Conceived with two associate artists, Dieudonné Niangouna and Stanislas Nordey, the 67th Festival was marked by the encounter between artists working in Africa and Europe. Together, they offered performances of the world displaying a genuine faith in art. The strength of poetic speech resonated on the stages, notably with Peter Handke's Walk about the Villages, staged by Stanislas Nordey, or with Shéda, written and directed by Dieudonné Niangouna.
For the most part created for the Festival d'Avignon or presented for the first time in France, the shows displayed the extraordinary multiplicity of contemporary writing and the vitality of the performing arts. The programming was woven around artists who, for some of them, grew up these last few years with the Festival, and also with the discovery of new personalities, invited to the Festival for the first time. It was decidedly open to the world and queried the future. These challenges were at the heart of Nicolas Klotz and Élisabeth Perceval's film, The Wind Blows through the Cour d'honneur. They grasped the spirit of today's Fesival through their cinematographic view.
Combining reflection with the stage, the Theatre of Ideas created with Nicolas Truong and the publications it generated, underlined the complementarity between philosophers and artists to think about our society and its future.
Increasingly involved in the Festival, the spectators took part in the many proposals offered to them linked to the shows. The strength of their accounts on the place of theatre in their life and on the progression of the shows within each of them was elucidated by the creation Cour d'honneur by Jérôme Bel.
We now estimate that the attendance of the 67th Festival d'Avignon will have reached 95% with 128,000 tickets sold to which can be added the 13,000 spectators of free shows, mainly Groupe F's Open! as well as the 13,000 entries to the encounters of the École d'Art, the debates and free readings.
A genuine professional forum of the performing arts allowing all the sector's stakeholders to meet, the Festival d'Avignon holds an essential place for them. For the second year, the Maison professionnelle has made it possible to bring together some of the professional bodies and organizations at the Collège Viala. In 10 years, the Festival has actively contributed, in particular through the publication of the “Performing Arts Professional's Guide to Avignon,” to the gathering and exchanges of a sector that must fight the reduction in its resources and continue to invent new ways of supporting artists and spectators. The presence of Aurélie Filippetti, the minister of culture and communication who came to the Festival on several occasions, the visit of six other government ministers and the strong presence of elected officials, once again made the Festival d'Avignon a venue for the critical debate on cultural policies. These last few years, the regional administrations have gotten particularly involved in these issues, as is shown by the five debates that they organized at the Cloître Saint-Louis this summer.
The opening of FabricA, the rehearsal and residence venue of the Festival, which handled the project management, keeping to deadlines (construction in 12 months) and budget (10 million euros), also marked this Festival. Simple to use and with a modest operating budget, this venue will increase the Festival's capacity to support artists and will facilitate its role as producer (this year once again, the Festival was responsible for the delegated product of Walk about the Villages and Cour d'honneur).
In the Monclar and Champfleury districts, at the intersection where FabricA is installed, many projects were undertaken in cooperation with elementary schools and various associative branches that, despite the major difficulties encountered these last few years, are continuing their commitment. The premieres of The Parable of the Butterflies and Open! have made possible the involvement of these districts' residents in the Festival. Accordingly, FabricA is anchoring the Festival even more firmly in its territory, with which links have been tightened since its executive management moved to Avignon in 2004, then the entire permanent team a few years later.
Along with this insertion in its territory, these three dimensions – creation venue for contemporary theatre and dance, place and role of the spectator, professional forum – have been at the heart of the Festival project led for 10 years by Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller.
If the Festival d'Avignon occupies the place it does today in contemporary creation, it is also thanks to the commitment of the artists who make it, year after year, and notably to that of the associate artists, as attests the success of the program Artists One Day at the Festival.
The many actions undertaken over the years to link the spectator to the contemporary creation process and to have him share its risks have, over the long run, borne their fruits. The public increasingly answers the call: at equivalent capacities, the average attendance reached, over the last decade, the never-before-attained rate of 91.6% (the attendance rate of the preceding decade was 76.6%). The public has gotten younger: the average age of the festival-goer today is 40, five years less than in 1996, and the share of youth ticket prices went from 6% in 2002 to 11% in 2013.
Permitting people who will perhaps become spectators to discover the theatre has always been one of the Festival's critical missions. This has notably been continued through two operations launched in 2004: Lycéens en Avignon, which welcomed this year 700 secondary school students and their teachers from 13 French regions, accompanied by the Ceméas and the Festival and, moreover, the partnership with the Avignon-Le Pontent penitentiary, which has permitted prisoners to discover the Festival and its artists each year. In relying on many relays and associations, crossings of the Festival have also been proposed to people who might think that it was not meant for them.
Continuously increasing these last 10 years, the presence of the directors of major festivals and theatre institutions worldwide, like that of the many representatives of the foreign press, have notably strengthened the prescriber's role of the Festival d'Avignon on the international scene.
Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller will end their role as directors of the Festival d'Avignon on 31 August.
Olivier Py will succeed them on 1 September.
The Festival continues its history, ever in motion.