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The Avignon Theatre Festival-Off and On

July 16, 2010

Festival Posters at Avignon

I went to the Avignon Theater Festival yesterday. It was transcendent. Not just because over 900 performances a day are happening. It probably was because a great part of the audience were theater people. The festival is one big circle of dramatists chanting to each other.

Off Festival Programs

The festival is actually two festivals. The original “On” festival did not have to call itself that until the late 1960s when upstart theater people simply staged events throughout the city in the midst of the traditional drama festival. Now, the “Off” festival program is a phonebook sized manual of who, what, when, and where. The “On” program is half that size.

Two posters echo the On/Off relationship.

When I arrive in the early morning Avignon feels open and welcoming.

It is great when the old guard, symbolized by Oscar Wilde (right), is as dynamic as the new guard.

As for the festival itself, it’s all energy and that’s what I am here for.

Actors on the street approach me.

Faces in the crowd are actors on the stage.

This couple are playing Bridget Bardot and some famous French actor.

Lady Dia is just being herself, and that is enough for me.

The street pulsates with life. Lady Dia exits, others enter. This is all and everything. A bicycle housing a piano provides the soundtrack.

The music on the street propels me forward.

Occasionally, someone lifts a horn out their door for counterpoint.

The cobblestones start to vibrate as the sounds echo deeper.

The light dims and the third act begins.

The barkeep tells me that they have 160 different beers, I know my first choice has to be from Belgium.

Native dancers are keg rolling.

A lone cyclist rides down the alley.

Two girls approach me.

A face stares through a veil.

I ask, what makes my heart sing?

I fall into a photography shop and the woman in the picture talks to me in French.

I’m not sure what she is saying. I remember Satori in Paris, Jack Kerouac’s book about a flash of enlightenment experienced in a taxi cab.

A bicycle with a piano and a high heel.

I need transport to the terminal.

At the bus station.

Now, I don’t have to go anywhere. I just sit on the bus. I just sit. There are over 900 performances a day. More than that if you don’t try to keep count.

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