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Avignon - Papal court theatre

Avignon - Papal court theatre

18 Jun 2013 BY Tim Wells

The breakaway popes of the 14th century Avignon Papacy were building for the future when they constructed their fortified Palais des Papes, the largest and one of the most beautiful examples of medieval Gothic architecture. As it turned out, within the century the Papacy had returned to Rome, but the Palais by the Rhône River remains, and its Honour Courtyard has provided the magnificent backdrop for the world-famous Festival d’Avignon, the theatrical arts festival held in July each year since 1947. It was founded by theatre director Jean Vilar, who was asked to present T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” in conjunction with a modern arts festival at the Palais. This year’s 67th edition will be held 5-25 July, and will be co-directed by this year’s associated artists Dieudonné Niangouna (author, director, and actor from the Congo) and French director Stanislas Nordey, who will direct the Festival’s opening performance. Over forty different works of theatre and performance, as well as readings, forums, installations, and other events will take place in over twenty different venues throughout the town. As every year, many of the productions will go on tour in France and abroad after the Festival closes: in 2012, the 66th edition included “The Master and Margarita”, directed by associated artist Simon McBurney OBE and his company Complicité.

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