Contrary to the nihilism and pessimism that are too readily attributed to him, Samuel Beckett appears, to those who read him, as a man of the heart who celebrates life at its most fragile and tenuous.

After the arrest of his friend Paul Léon, who died under torture at the end of August 1941, Samuel Beckett joined a French Resistance cell named Gloria. After he was betrayed, and while hunted by the Gestapo, he and his companion Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil found refuge in Roussillon in the Vaucluse.

When the Wehrmacht invaded the Free Zone in the south of France, Beckett and his new friend, the painter Henri Hayden, had to hide repeatedly in the forest near Roussillon. It was there, according to his friend, the publisher John Calder, that the idea for a certain play was born, a play called entitled Waiting for...

Waiting for Godot contains one of the rare autobiographical references in Beckett’s oeuvre. In the English version, Vladimir struggles to remember a time when he and Estragon worked “picking grapes” together. However, the French version names both the man he worked for—Bonnelly—and the place—Roussillon, in the Vaucluse.

Following the success of the last two years, the Beckett Festival is undergoing a major transformation. The strong link with Roussillon and the enduring power of Samuel Beckett’s work bring loyal enthusiasts and theatre-lovers to the event every summer.

Year by year, the festival has won increasing recognition from the public, the media and artists, beguiled by the magic of the venue and the welcome they receive, and alive to the importance, in terms of both memory and heritage, of holding a festival in the very place where Beckett, hero of the French Resistance and future Nobel Prize winner for literature, took refuge during the Occupation. Today, Beckett is one of the most widely performed and closely studied modern authors in the world.

In 2024, the Beckett Festival in Roussillon will take a bold step forward by opening up to anglophone audiences. With the support of the Irish Embassy, and the partnership of the Dora Maar Cultural Centre in Ménerbes, we will present a show in English with French surtitles, drawing an international audience of theatre-lovers to the region, to discover the complex and fascinating work of Samuel Beckett in his mother tongue, while enjoying the enchanting atmosphere of Roussillon.

The round table we are organising at the Dora Maar Cultural Centre in Ménerbes with the support of Sorbonne University and the Universities of Avignon and Aix-Marseille is designed to strengthen the links with Beckett enthusiasts and specialists who keep his memory alive throughout Europe.

Building on last year’s success, we will once again offer workshops in the media libraries of the Pays d’Apt Lubéron group of municipalities, in order to raise awareness of the playwright’s artistic universe and life.

We are also delighted to renew our partnership with Le Bleuet, the largest rural bookshop in France, located in Banon and open 365 days year. This year, Le Bleuet will be hosting the festival’s closing evening on Saturday 20 July, with a special guest appearance by Valère Novarina, together with André Marcon, and who will be performing Novarina’s Talking to Animals.

More than ever, we count on your presence and support to ensure that the Beckett Festival can continue to make its mark in Roussillon’s cultural heritage.

We look forward to welcoming you at the 2024 Beckett Festival!

Stéphane Valensi – Artistic Director of the Beckett Festival

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