The foremost arts festival in Provence is the beloved Festival d'Avignon held in the walled city of Avignon every summer during the month of July. It is an internationally recognized cultural event celebrating theater, music, dance and film, with an expanded program including routines that embrace poetry reading, ethnic street pageantry and amateur theatrical production. It is attended by more than a quarter of a million people each year.
The origins of the festival go back to 1947, when the late French actor and director Jean Vilar was invited to stage a production of T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral at Avignon's Palais des Papes (Popes' Palace) in conjunction with a modern painting exhibition organized by art critic and collector Christian Zervos and the poet René Char. He turned the opportunity into a creative wellspring, launching a personal crusade in ensuing years to renew theater and collective forms of art by providing fresh, dramatic venues for aspiring actors and artists. Vilar is credited with revitalizing the Théâtre National Populaire as a forceful educational and creative influence in French life. The most recognizable manifestation of this is the Festival d'Avignon in July, where the performing arts flourish—everything from top-tier theatrical productions requiring tickets, to street fêtes open freely for all. To visit Avignon during the Festival is to see a city inspired.
For information contact Bureau du Festival d'Avignon, Cloître Saint-Louis, 20 rue du portail Boquier, 84 000 Avignon; tel +33 (0)4 90 27 66 50; fax +33 (0)4 90 27 66 83; for booking tel +33 (0)4 90 14 14 14. On the Internet visit www.festival-avignon.com.
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