The Avignon pageant enters the combat in opposition to the far proper | Culture | EUROtoday

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The tragedy of Hecuba had simply occurred when the creator of the present and in addition director of the Avignon pageant, the Portuguese Tiago Rodrigues, entered the scene with a microphone in his hand. It was midnight on Sunday 30 July, the victory of Marine Le Pen's occasion within the first spherical of the French legislative elections had been confirmed and Rodrigues introduced: “The historical responsibility of the Avignon festival obliges it to counteract the supposed inevitability of an extreme right-wing government in France by calling for a night of resistance and debate during the early hours of 4 and 5 July.” The phrases echoed loudly off the traditional stones of the Boulbon quarry, the identical stage the place Peter Brook premiered his legendary play in its entirety. Mahabharata, from seven within the night on 13 July 1985 till seven within the morning on 14 July, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille that started the French Revolution. The viewers burst into applause when Rodrigues recalled the founding values ​​of the occasion: “This is a popular, democratic, republican, progressive, anti-racist, feminist and ecological festival.”

The announcement didn’t come as a shock to anybody. Nor was it stunning {that a} pageant supported by public funds of all stripes and regarded by the French to be one of many jewels of their tradition took such a transparent political stance. Not in useless is it an important modern theatre occasion in Europe. In the Spanish context, Rodrigues's head would possibly already be rolling, however the Avignon pageant is untouchable exactly as a result of it represents the values ​​on which the nationwide idiosyncrasy is predicated. For this very purpose it has all the time been a social and political resonance field. With its basis in 1947, Jean Vilar undertook the cultural reconstruction of the nation after the Second World War and all through its historical past it has skilled turbulent occasions such because the strike of intermittent staff within the leisure business that paralysed it in 2003. In March 2014, in the course of the marketing campaign for the municipal elections, the then director of the pageant, Olivier Py, assured that if the far proper received within the metropolis he would transfer it to a different location. It didn't occur then, however one other protest by the intermittents pressured the inauguration to be suspended that yr.

The director of the Avignon Festival, Tiago Rodrigues, photographed on June 28, the day before the opening of this 78th edition.
The director of the Avignon Festival, Tiago Rodrigues, photographed on June 28, the day earlier than the opening of this 78th version.TERESA SUAREZ (EFE)

Ten years later, “the possibility of the far right taking power in France is no longer a theory, but a real threat,” as Rodrigues recalled on stage on Sunday. The pageant had began the day earlier than with a day of reflection within the air and a gathering of leisure staff in entrance of the Palais des Papes, the primary stage of the present, to specific their rejection of discrimination, racism and social regression. Since then, small demonstrations have taken place within the streets underneath the slogan of solidarity and it’s possible that the mobilization will intensify in the course of the week in view of the second spherical on Sunday.

The spotlight would be the “night of resistance”, formally convened by the pageant within the early hours of Thursday to Friday. It will happen on the Palais des Papes, as soon as the efficiency of Damon. Bergman's funeral, The occasion was opened on Saturday by Spanish author Angélica Liddell, who has inaugurated an version during which the Spanish language is the visitor of honour. Not solely artists and figures from French tradition and civil society have confirmed their energetic participation, from actress Jeanne Balibar to rapper and actor Joey Starr, but additionally lots of the overseas creators who’re assembly there lately. When French tradition trembles in Avignon, the echo resonates far past. Even extra so if it may imply cuts in a system of cultural administration and manufacturing that has been a mannequin for a lot of nations, together with Spain.

Installation of posters for plays taking part in this edition of the Avignon Festival.
Installation of posters for performs participating on this version of the Avignon Festival.
TERESA SUAREZ (EFE)

Rodrigues was emphatic in his statements: “The current management of the festival will never accept collaborating with a government and a Ministry of Culture controlled by the extreme right. Freedom of expression, which has been the banner of this festival since its foundation, is in danger.” The Portuguese director, who has solely been in workplace for 2 editions and is the primary foreigner to take action, embodies the spirit of Avignon like few others. Not solely in his convictions, but additionally in his inventive commitments. The present that premiered on Sunday on the Boulbon quarry, Hecuba, not Hecuba, The play is a transferring and poetic interweaving of the tragedy of the Queen of Troy as advised by Euripides with that of a lady of our time. The former tore out the eyes of her son's assassin, King Polymestor, the very particular person to whom she had entrusted her safety from the Greeks. Today's play is a mom who calls for justice for her autistic son, mistreated within the centre the place he was presupposed to obtain help and care. Masterfully carried out by actors from the Comédie-Française, the play has moved individuals in Avignon due to the symbolic cost it takes on at a time when the safety of probably the most weak individuals is at risk. The manufacturing can be carried out on the Teatros del Canal in Madrid subsequent January.

The premiere of the movie additionally triggered pleasure on Monday. Tear, Another of probably the most anticipated exhibits of this version, written and directed by the French Caroline Guiela Nguyen, revered in Avignon since she offered Saigon in 2017. It is the story of the making of the marriage costume of a fictional English princess, during which a prestigious Parisian high fashion home, an embroidery workshop from Bombay and the final ladies who’ve mastered the strategy of Alençon needle lace, listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage, participate. The work interweaves the circumstances of all these staff – work, household, emotional – and provides a fresco of how the worldwide manufacturing system impacts individuals's lives. The Spanish National Drama Centre is collaborating within the co-production of this manufacturing and can exhibit it on the María Guerrero theatre in Madrid from March 28 to 30, 2025.

Performance of 'Hecuba, not Hecuba' in Avignon on Sunday.
Performance of 'Hecuba, not Hecuba' in Avignon on Sunday.Christopher Raynaud de Lage (Christophe Raynaud de Lage)

However, not every part is political upheaval in Avignon. The pageant has historically been the scene of nice inventive improvements, scandals and battles. The first of this version was sparked on the opening day by the Spanish actress Angélica Liddell, who attacked a number of French critics by identify throughout her present. The subsequent day, one among them denounced her for libel and requested the occasion administration to take away the scene. Rodrigues as soon as once more reminded: “Since its origins, the festival has defended freedom of creation, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.”

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