(Laura Cappelle’s article appeared in The New York Times, 7/19; via Pam Green.)

AVIGNON, France — The biggest productions of the 2018 Avignon Festival did not skimp on dramatics. Thomas Jolly presented a mythological king who feeds his brother his own sons; Milo Rau recreated the murder of a gay man in Belgium in 2012; and the festival director Olivier Py cast three men in turn as violent prison inmates, as poets and as coldblooded bankers.

Amid the boundary-pushing moments, there was one glaring omission: women, both as directors and as protagonists. The lack of parity in French theater is nothing new, but Mr. Py unwittingly drew attention to his own blind spots with the overall theme he selected for this edition of the Avignon Festival: “Gender.”

Out of 28 directors or collectives in the theater division, there were just seven women in the lineup at Avignon, the most important event in the French theater calendar. Three of them were credited in tandem with a man; two presented their work in the small Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, a venue Mr. Py has set aside for family-friendly productions.

Carole Thibaut, an experienced director who is at the helm of a National Dramatic Center in Montluçon, summed it up in an impassioned speech, her anger as potent as any of the stage performances on show. She was appearing as a guest during a series of daily performances and lectures directed by David Bobée that took place in the Ceccano Garden in Avignon and were called “Mesdames, Messieurs et le Reste du Monde” (“Ladies, Gentlemen and the Rest of the World”).

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Photo: The New York Times

 

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