Le Festival d’Avignon
Was that Big Bird or a Giraffe in a skirt crossing the road?
Did it have anything to do with all the TV cameras and reporters at the Avignon TGV Station when we arrived?
If It’s July …… Avignon’s Theatre Festival is the place to be!
In July, the Town of Avignon feels like an artsy Disneyland with a good humored and fun filled atmosphere. Every inch of available space on bus shelters, buildings and canopies are covered with colorful “affiches” (posters), advertising all types of theater activity. Restaurants and Cafes bustle with actors stopping for a quick break or theater goers on their way from one stage to the next.. During a three week period, almost one thousand shows are performed!
The Avignon Festival, that first started back in 1947 when French actor, Jean Vilar was invited to perform at the Palais du Papes (Papal Palace). From its beginning at that time, the Avignon Theater Festival set the stage as a showcase for lesser known plays and modern scripts. It is a venue that encourages creativity and an experimental approach to theater and concerts.
The Festival has grown into two festivals in one – the “In” and the “Off”. The “In” is organized by a non profit organization and administered by a French national and regional government board of trustees. The performances of the “In” Festival are still at the Palais du Papes and other theaters throughout Avignon.
The “Off” Festival is also organized by a non profit organization, made up largely of theater companies. The performances take place in theater schools or any available space around the town.
During the Festival, Avignon becomes the center of French theater activity and plays host to many well known French and foreign performers. If you would like to visit the Festival on your next summer visit to Provence, it is prudent to book accommodation well in advance as this is a very popular venue.