The 2016 program is typified by its large number of politically oriented works, including numerous works by artists of the politically tense Middle East. The Cour d’onneur of the Palais des Papes, which can be considered the main venue of the Avignon Festival, was the venue for the first appearance of the famed Israel-born director Amos Gitaï. He presents
in a one-night performance of this political story about the assassination of the 11th Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin by a young anti-peace activist in 1995.
The Syrian-born, London-raised, currently Beirut-based young playwright Mohammad Al Attar also appears at Avignon for the first time. With directing by another Syrian-born artist, Omar Abusaada, he presents Alors que j’attendais
(While I Was Waiting). Lebanon-born choreographer Ali Chahrour presents the 55-minute dance piece Fatmeh
consisting of references to the poet Fatemeh Zahra, the 1930s Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum and the Prophet Muhammad. Also on the program is the play HEARING
by Iranian playwright Amir Reza Koohestani, a regular at international festivals, including an appearance at Festival/Tokyo. The work expands of everyday incidents (a man sneaks into a women’s dormitory on New Year’s Eve) and links them to social issues in Iranian society.
Founded by actor and director Jean Vilar in 1947, the Avignon Festival has become one of the largest in Europe in terms of the scale, number and quality of new works. From 2004, the festival has adopted an “associate artist” system under which a different artist is chosen every year to participate in the selection of the next festival’s program. In recent years, the program includes about 40 works performed at some 20 venues around the city, with the central court of the Palais des Papes and the Carrière de Boulbon quarry as two of the main venues. Visitors during the festival total about 100,000 each year, a number roughly equal to the city’s population. The European press regularly publishes feature articles about the Avignon Festival with daily critiques of the performances that at times spark large-scale debates in the theater world, as was the case with the works of Jan Fabre in 2005. Held simultaneously with the festival is the Avignon Theater Festival OFF (http://www.avignonleoff.com
) presenting a large number of works. The OFF festival adopts an open participation policy. Also, in addition to performing arts many exhibitions, concerts, poetry readings and other events are held, bringing a festive mood to the entire city throughout the festival’s run. Director Olivier Py was appointed festival director in 2013. The 2014 festival featured from Japan Maharabharata, l’episode du roi Nata
directed by Satoshi Miyagi
and French master Claude Régy directed Japanese actors in a production of Maurice Maeterlinck’s Intérieur