Bazaar, party, fair, a theatre supermarket, the Festival Off is all that and more.
The Festival Off of Avignon is today the biggest performing arts market in France. The Off counted more than 1000 theatre troupes and over 1300 different performances.
The Off is the premier market for theatre shows in the world with more than 3500 programmers, producers, journalists, etc. attending.
During the 4 weeks of the festival, the living arts take over the city, theatres flourish in the bosom of the city, sometimes in some improbable locations, and the number of shows offered may seem inordinate to the simple spectator. No prior selection takes place; from inexperienced amateurs to the most famous of actors, all converge on Avignon to present their work. Some take enormous financial risks to gain the recognition of the public and also the promoters coming from all over France who will permit them to carry on with their troupes throughout the year. In this nearly Darwinian struggle to survive, the city is covered in posters and flyers and the troupes roam the streets to promote their show, and thus work to create an inimitable atmosphere.
André Benedetto was the first, with "Napalm" in 1966, to present a show outside of the official festival. In 1968, because of the contentious unrest, the performances of "La Paillasse aux Seins Nus" by Gérard Gélas were banned by order of the prefect. By 1971, with 38 shows being performed in 12 venues, this is no longer an ephemeral movement, but a true alternative festival, which was born and baptized Off, as opposed to the official festival known as In.
The Avignon Theatre Festival would no longer be itself without the Festival Off. No one can really explain its range and functioning, but the public is not misled, and far from being intimidated by the plethora and diversity of the shows presented it rushes to take part in the event and everyone tries to trailblaze their way through, through word of mouth, by reading the critics or simply by intuition. The Festival Off is an original cultural experience, a precious testimony of the vitality of the Living Art.
Avignon Festival OFF - Walls covered by posters
Actors at the Parade du Off
The Parade of the Festival Off
Actors promoting their show in the streets of Avignon
Public show on the square of the Popes' Palace
Atmosphere in the streets of Avignon during the theatre Festival Off
Commedia dell'arte show at the theatre Festival in Avignon
Parade of the actors during the Festival Off
Classic theatre plays at the Festival Off in Avignon
Show for children in the streets of Avignon
Avignon Festival & Compagnies - Le OFF - 64, rue Thiers - Bât. A - 84000 Avignon
+33 (0)4 90 85 13 08http://www.avignonleoff.com