Sex, dance and blablabla at Avignon's 2010 theatre festival
The French city of Avignon is famous for its theatre festival, which kicked off this week. The city invites prestigious directors and playwrights to create plays and perform them in its mediaeval palaces and churches.
The ancient city becomes not only a stage but also a theatre supermarket, covered in posters and leaflets. As well as the official festival, actors and directors from the unofficial Off Festival – it has an astonishing 1,000 productions this year – roam the streets to promote their show.
Here's a look at just some of the events:
In or Off?
The Avignon Theatre Festival is really two festivals in one: there is the official In, which receives millions of euros in subsidies; and the Off, which receives no public support. Greg Germain is the president of the Off festival and director of a theatre, the Chapelle du verbe incarné, or Chapel of the Word Incarnate, a theatre that brings Caribbean, Arab and African shows to France.
Papperlapapp – it means blablabla in German – opened the official festival in the magnificent courtyard of the Pope’s Palace. The play is a newly commissioned work by Swiss director Christophe Marthaler. It features singing popes in modern dress who worship at a washing machine.
Dancers coming and going in twilight
Belgium’s Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker is a radical proponent of pure dance. Dancing bodies, she believes, are best seen in natural light – even if it is failing. In a world premier, Keersmaeker and seven others danced to a mediaeval ballad in the courtyard of the Celestine Cloister.
Do Muslim women feel differently about sex?
While performing The Vagina Monologues, Dutch director and actress Adelheid Roosen asked herself if Muslim women have different attitudes towards sex. So she interviewed them about their sexuality and wrote a play about it – The Veiled Monologues.
Come and see my Beautiful Thing
Over 1,000 theatre companies are competing for an audience at Avignon’s unofficial Off festival. One of the shows is a French translation of a British play by Jonathan Harvey, Beautiful Thing.