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Jul. 31, 2014
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Avignon Festival opened with new director (Jul. 4 – 27, 2014)
From 2014 and the 68th holding of the Avignon Festival (Festival d’Avignon) the festival has a new director in the French playwright, and director Olivier Py, who served as artistic general director of the Théâtre de l’Odéon until 2012. Owing to a history of exchange between Py and the artistic director of Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Satoshi Miyagi, a SPAC performance of Mahabharata - Nalacharitam at the Carrière de Boulbon quarry was part of the festival opening (Jul. 7-19). Due to a strike by the performing arts workers’ union, some of the performances at the beginning of the festival had to be cancelled and it was uncertain how long the disruption of the festival might continue.
One of the focuses of director Py’s program is a reinterpretation of texts, and the program is also flavored by the use of many emerging artists. It is noteworthy that 37 of the productions on the program this time were new works and 25 of the artist groups invited from 17 countries on five continents were participating in the Avignon Festival for the first time and half of them were under the age of 35, representing a major injection of new blood. One of the noted main events of the festival was an 18-hour performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VI by the 32-year old French director Thomas Jolly.
A number of initiatives to develop and attract new audience have also been newly undertaken. This time the festival has been extended to include an additional two days and more performances per work have been scheduled and the program of works for both parents and children to enjoy has been increased. Furthermore, the ticket purchase system has been simplified and discounts offered for people under the age of 26 (40 euro for four performances, approx. 1,300 yen/performance) to attract young audience particularly.
The collapse of the Greek economy prompted Py to include among the five works that he directs on the program the play Vitrioli by the Greek author Yannis Mavritsakis along with the new comedy Orlando, or Impatience Py writes and directs, about a son searching for his father, and three other works.
Other productions on the program include Fatal Blow, in a production by Belgium’s Alain Platel based on the concept of musicians from the Congo playing Baroque music; Archive choreographed by Israeli Arkaidi Zaides and using scenes of violence filmed Palestinians in the Occupied Territories; the duo dance piece Sujets À Vif / Strawberry Cream Puff by the overseas-based Japanese dancer Kaori Ito and the actor and singer Olivier Martin-Salvan. There is also much interest centered on a contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Othello titled Othello, Variation for Three Actors and an adaptation of German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film The Marriage of Maria Braun staged with the same title by German director Thomas Ostermeier.

Festival Outline
Launched in 1947 in the small city of Avignon in southern France, the Avignon Festival (Festival d’Avignon) is one of the leading festivals in Europe in terms of the scale and number of new works premiering at it. The festival was founded by actor and director Jean Vilar. From 2004, it was headed by two directors, Hortense Archambault and Vincent Baudriller. The festival adopts an “associate artist” system under which a different artist is chosen every year to participate in the selection of the next festival's program. From 2014, Olivier Py has been appointed director.
In recent years, the program includes about 35 to 40 works for which some 300 performances are given 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.
+Festival d’Avignon