The Avignon Theatre Festival

One of the biggest Performing Arts Festivals in the world.

The Theatre Arts Week, spurred on by Jean Vilar and his troupe in 1947, was all it took to transform Avignon and the main courtyard of the Popes' Palace into one of the biggest stages for the performing arts with an international dimension.

The Cour d'Honneur, a mythical and impressive venue, invites 2000 spectators to share the love for theatre, sometimes from nightfall until dawn. Magical moments when the artists and spectators applaud in unison the beautiful shared performance and the beauty of writing.

Richard II by Shakespeare – Terrasse du midi by Maurice Clavel - Le Prince de Hombourg by H. Von Kleist - Le Soulier de satin by Paul Claudel - Dom Juan by Molière - La Chinoise by JL Godard - Messe pour le temps présent by Maurice Béjart - Early morning by E. Bond - Antigone by Carollyn Carlson... Platonov A. by Tchekhov, Wolf by Alain Platel, Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen, Je suis Sang by Jan Fabre, Inferno de Roméo Castellucci, Casimir et Caroline by Ödön von Horvath, Littoral, Incendies, Forêts de Wajdi Mouawad - The Master and Margarita de Mikhaïl Boulgakov…

No less then forty artistic projects, in theatre, dance, music and fine arts, enrich the creativity each year. Discerning festival-goers discuss the plays and share their favourites; others go to any of the many workshops, debates and discussions. During one month, Avignon bustles with exuberance. The Avignon Theatre Festival is committed to providing access to the whole public - subject to seating availability - and invites you to share the best of contemporary, European and international culture.

The Cour d'Honneur - Palace of the Popes of Avignon

Mademoiselle Julie, August Strindberg, directed by Frederic Fisbach

The birth of the Festival with Jean Vilar

For the 17 years during which Jean Vilar took on this project, accompanied by such faithful actors as Jean Negroni, Germaine Montero, Alain Cuny, Michel Bouquet, Jean-Pierre Jorris, Sylvia Montfort, Jeanne Moreau, Daniel Sorano, Maria Casares and a bit later Gerard Philippe, he would be at the head of a cultural decentralization, driven by a unified thought, that of a revival of French theatre in one sole place: "Give back to theatre, to the collective arts, a place other than the confined space; to allow an art withering in the antechambers, in the cellars, in the salons to breathe again; finally to bring architecture and dramatic poetry back together ".

The post-war momentum fashioned new social and cultural structures and so it was that in 1963, encouraged by activist organizations- associations, works councils, youth movements, laic clubs - the festival of Avignon opened up to a new public. The next generation took possession of the city.

A brilliant idea in the service of a more and more involved public, the Avignon Theatre Festival counts more than 100,000 entries, 93% occupancy in 2012, an indubitable passion shared by an ever-changing public.

Chronology of the Directors of the Avignon Theatre Festival

JEAN VILAR from 1947 to 1971

PAUL PUAUX from 1971 to 1979

Present since 1947, he worked with Jean Vilar in evolving the Festival; he became the administrator in 1966. He created the Association Jean Vilar in 1979.

ALAIN CROMBECQUE from 1985 to 1992

A man of great openness and sensitivity, he brought a new momentum to the festival by opening the doors to non-European cultures (India, Iran, Latin America...). He incorporated other venues, notable the Quarries in Boulbon, a natural space where Peter Brook’s “Mahabarata” was performed. Ever faithful in respecting the founder’s values.

BERNARD FAIVRE-D’ARCIER from 1993 to 2003

He continues with brio along the path of his predecessor. 


Since September 1, 2013, OLIVIER PY is the new director of the Festival d'Avignon.

© Text: Christine Limont -

Festival d'Avignon - Espace Saint Louis - 20 rue du Portail Boquier - 84000 Avignon

+33 (0)4 90 27 66 50

Scroll To Top