The world's largest theater festival opened today in Avignon. More than one thousand differend theater companies ( from one-person shows to huge performing teams) vie for your attention in the streets and venues of the city - schools, shops, gym rooms etc being all converted in makeshift theaters. An estimate of five thousand performers enjoy the city athmosphere, and their banter, stunts and laughs make everybody else happy. Their combined repertoire goes from farcical to decidely mystic. We elected to welcome a company from the Indian ocean - actors, dancers and musicians from Reunion, Madagascar and Mauritius, so our place, fully booked by now until August, takes a creole flavour.
I feel the festival's mood this year is set both on the plays of classical times - 17th and 18th century, ( top left is a photograph of a company performing Moliere and Shakespeare Viva la Commedia!- and also on political shows. The Wahrschein Kabarett ( photo, left)is a remarkable play by Philippe Fenwick et al, revisiting propaganda discourses both sides of the Berlin wall. Escale theatre has a long history of performing in rural villages and out of the way places. They play every morning in the Agricol Perdiguier garden next to St Martial temple and the tourist office. Another politicallly minded show is U-topie, a play on the 1871 Commune de Paris, every night at 21.30 in the College de la Salle, a big affair with choir singers, puppets, giving a voice to the " voiceless people in history".