Curtain rises this week on Avignon arts festival

6th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

AVIGNON, France, July 4 (AFP) - The curtain goes up this week on the Avignon festival of performing arts, the world's second biggest after Edinburgh, with the spotlight on European productions and high hopes that this year's event would be protest-free.

AVIGNON, France, July 4 (AFP) - The curtain goes up this week on the Avignon festival of performing arts, the world's second biggest after Edinburgh, with the spotlight on European productions and high hopes that this year's event would be protest-free.

Last year's festival was cancelled at the last minute due to protests by French performing arts workers, angered by government plans to overhaul their unemployment benefits.

Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres expressed hopes at the official kick-off Saturday that this year there would be no trouble.

"I hope for a great 2004 festival with a big audience," he said after talks with trade union leaders aimed at heading off potential problems. Last year's cancellation was the first ever since the creation of the festival in 1947.

Yvan Romeuf, head of the arts workers branch of the CGT union, which is still in negotiations with the government over the benefits, said there would be a demonstration on July 9. But he told the media: "There is no threat hanging over the festival. We're not calling for a strike."

But a radical group of arts workers has refused to participate in the talks with the minister and threatened more turmoil if the government fails to meet its demands this week.

The Avignon festival, which has a budget of EUR 9.2 million (USD 11.33 million), kicked off with a street video performance in the city late Saturday but the major crowd-pulling performances will not begin until Thursday. The festival ends July 27.

Performances to be staged in the spectacular Palais des Papes include Buchner's "Woyzeck" by Berlin's Schaubuhne from July 8 to 11, followed by Ibsen's "Peer Gynt" by the Paris Theatre de l'Odeon from July 16 to 25.

The Berlin troupe will be putting on five productions, four of them theatre and one dance by Sasha Waltz.

Also present will be Berlin's Volksbuhne, the Schauspielhaus troupe from Zurich, Johan Simons and his Groupe ZT Hollandia from the Netherlands, a street installation by a Norwegian company, Goksoyr and Martens, works by Spain's Rodrigo Garcia and Italy's Pipo Delbono.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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