Above all, Olivier Py does not want to make “his” last Avignon festival a “summary or commemorative” event. As if to forbid any melancholy, it is with the words of all the beginnings that the director has titled this 76th edition, which will take place from July 7 to 26 : ” Once upon a time… “ But the end is not far, because “everything always ends with ‘once upon a time…’, that is to say, with the possibility of telling the story again”assures the one who will hand over to the Portuguese Tiago Rodrigues in 2023 – who will not be completely absent, his Iphigenia directed by Anne Théron being programmed from the first day. Why this choice ? “It is not ideologies that create worlds, it is stories”, explains Olivier Py. Art will therefore be there to tell the story: we are nevertheless bordering on tautology…
Let us suggest a boldness: what if the spirit of this Festival was rather ” Once upon a time ” ? A faith that would be first and foremost that of the director. Olivier Py prays to end on a normal year, after the cancellation of 2020 and the imposition of a health pass in the middle of the 2021 edition, which had upset all the logistics. And particularly hit an already struggling off, the decision having been experienced as a “mass blow”. Note that, unlike the organization headed by Olivier Py, off Avignon is entirely decentralized. For the moment, we therefore only know the dates (July 7 to 30) and the challenge – finding pre-pandemic attendance – but not the number of shows: is the 56th off still towards the thousand per day as in 2021, or will it return to the record level of 1,592 coins of 2019?
Lourdes of the theater
On the side of the “in”, the director of the Festival, willingly mystical, we invite him himself to spin the religious metaphor. In his introductory press conference, held at the end of March, he referred to each curtain lever as a “miracle”. With 270 performances for 46 shows – including 40 creations – Avignon will take on the air of Lourdes from the theater between July 7 and 26.
Especially since the opening in the mythical main courtyard of the Popes’ Palace always speaks to us of religion, and more precisely of the black monk by Chekhov – who will thus be the first author to be played twice in a row as an overture, after The Cherry Orchard of Tiago Rodrigues last year. This little-known news is offered by the Russian director and filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov, now free to move after several months of house arrest in his country – he had not been able to attend his sublime Outsidecreated for the 2019 Festival.
Arabic poetry in the spotlight
Faith is also what it takes for the South African Dada Masilo troupe to plan a third time to come to dance The sacrifice : after the cancellation of 2020, this Rite of Spring revisited could not take place in 2021 due to contamination among the dancers. For the rest, the programming will be traditionally marked by the major themes of the time.
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Collapse and catastrophe – ecological, but not only – will be at the heart of without drum by Samuel Achache, from ash nest (a thirteen-hour odyssey!) by Simon Falguières, Near future by Jan Martens and again the installation Anima by Noémie Goudal and Maëlle Poésy.
Poetry, precisely, will be in the spotlight with readings by Mahmoud Darwish, and a cycle on four poetesses from an Arab world particularly honored through women – with When my mother used to tell by Ali Shahrour, Jogging by Hanane Hajj Ali and Milk by Bashar Murkus, on their role in wars.
For the closing, Py Py program
The Iranian Amir Reza Koohestani, for his part, will draw from a Kafkaesque experience in an airport the part In transit, based on a novel by Anna Seghers. With Anaïs Nin in the mirroranother woman from yesterday will be honored by Élise Vigier… Just like Marguerite Duras, the object of a creative UFO already performed in the Off 2021, and who is invited into the official program: the excellent Where I thought I was there was no oneby Anaïs Muller and Bertrand Poncet.
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For Olivier Py in the director version, the farewell to the Festival will also have the appearance of a beginning. Returning to the Lycée Aubanel gymnasium, where he had caused a sensation by granting a Servant of 24 hours in 1995: he will present there My exalted youthcreation in ten hours wanting to be the “Portrait of an indomitable youth”. He himself will close his Festival with a Miss Knife and her sisters bring together her emblematic character as a cabaret singer. Just to say, one last time: ” Once upon a time. »