The first International Theatre Festival of Lyon in France explored themes of memory, identity and resistance. Theatre companies from as far afield as Poland, Russia, Turkey and Afghanistan used the festival as an opportunity to expolore the most burning issues facing the world today.
Dmitry Krymov from Russia presented his work “Opus 7” dealing with anti-semitism and in particular the problems faced by Shostokovitch. Patrick Penot, the artistic director of the festival, said: “Myself I think that the theatre, this old, old craft, is one of the best places to display the world because the theatre questions all of us, but not individually, it questions us as a group with the rest of the audience and what interests me is to see how various companies and artistes deal with the issues facing them back home – how they can show them to the public and how they engage the public.” Opening the festival was that enfant terrible of Polish theatre Jan Klata – who chose to explore one of the most painful episodes of Polish and German history – the forced expulsion of 10 million German people from ex-German territories given to Poland after the Second World War. Questions were raised about the festival’s policy of staging plays in foreign languages. Would serious political theatre surmount the language barriers? Patrick Penot was pleased to say that the experiment had been a success. “Lots of older people and of course the younger generation – they told us that it was a real pleasure to hear a language they didn’t understand but could decode as the action unfolded and that the foreign language didn’t spoil their enjoyment or dilute the emotional impact of the plays.” From Turkey Mustafa et Ovul Avkriran presented a piece of musical theatre showing how minority languages have disappeared in Turkey. “Ashura” is sung in 12 different languages including Armenian, Kurdish, Arab, Greek and Azeri. Actors on stage exploring war, religious conflicts, and exile – showing the world from a different perspective – that’s the new International Theatre Festival in Lyon. For more information see: