Hamlet in the imperative!

© Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d’Avignon

Program Information

Genre / City Theatre / Avignon
Dates 29 April at 17:00, 30 April at 17:00
Venue at Open Air Theatre “UDO”, Shizuoka Performing Arts Park
Duration 140 minutes → 150 minutes (without intermission)
Language In French with Japanese subtitles
Seat Non-reserved seating
Text based on William Shakespeare
Translation and direction Olivier Py
Production Festival d’Avignon
© Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d’Avignon
© Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d’Avignon
© Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d’Avignon


Enter this unparalleled adventure exploring Hamlet’s fate — and
witness a “miracle” created by the dramatic poet, Olivier Py.

“Hamlet” is a great tragedy play by William Shakespeare that has long captivated millions of theatre lovers. Here, the leading French playwright and director Olivier Py has adapted and directed this classic as a citizens’ participation program that he premiered to great acclaim at the Avignon Festival in the South of France in 2021. Performed as a reading performance by actors, members of the public and students from acting schools, that production comprised 10 different works in which Py separately focused on various philosophical themes from Shakespeare’s play, such as “good and evil”; “the ego”; and “time.” In addition, Py has also created an 11th episode — a compilation of those 10 works titled “Hamlet in the imperative!” — which will be performed in Shizuoka this time.

Py believes that the power of words can change the world. So this new drama was born, and poems poured out, once the playwright introduced Hamlet — who had pursued revenge with little thought — to great Western thinkers and entered into discussions with them.

On stage, the Kaleidoscopic company’s four actors and a musician will invite audiences into an exciting and challenging world. So please expect to see something rather special when you hear the famous line “To be, or not to be” in SPAC’s open-air site.


After Hamlet heard the truth about the death of his father, the king, from his father’s ghost, he decided to pretend to be mad to take his revenge on the murderer, his uncle — now the new King Claudius. Due to Hamlet’s drive for revenge, the fates of those around him such as his lover, Ophelia, her brother Laertes, and his mother, Queen Gertrude, spun off the rails.

In this performance, great Western thinkers such as Descartes, Freud, Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Derrida intervene in the “Hamlet” story as voiced by Hamlet’s friend, Horatio.

But how will the destinies of Shakespeare’s characters change after these new encounters centuries later?

Director’s profile

© Carole Bellaiche

Olivier Py
Born in Grasse in 1965, Olivier Py came to Paris after secondary school. After a year of khâgne at the lycée Fénelon, he joined the Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique in 1987 while also studying theology. The next year, he wrote his first play, Des Oranges et des Ongles (Of Oranges and Nails), and founded the company L’inconvénient des boutures. In 1995, he made his mark on the Festival d’Avignon with his direction of his text The Servant, a cycle of plays lasting twenty-four hours.
In 1997, he became director of the Centre dramatique national d’Orléans, which he left in 2007 for the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe. In 2013, he became the first theatre director to be named director of the Festival d’Avignon since Jean Vilar.
A director for the theatre, the opera, and the cinema, but also an actor and poet, Oliver Py is a prolific author. As a politically-minded artist, he has directed many plays at the heart of which lies the political word, like Aeschylus’s Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliants, and The Persians, William Shakespeare’s King Lear, as well as personal texts like Les Vainqueurs (The Victors), Orlando, or the Impatience, or Die Sonne for the Volksbühne. Every since Le Cahier noir (The Black Notebook), a first novel written when he was seventeen and published in 2015, he has written many texts in many different genres: plays, children’s fiction, essays, introductions, translations, screenplays, etc.
In 2017 he adapted one of his novels for the stage for the second time after Excelsior (Hacia la alegria) with The Parisians; he also showed the audience of the Festival d’Avignon a little-known aspect of his work with Hamlet and Antigone, two plays performed by inmates from the Avignon-Le Pontet prison in which he has led a drama workshop for over five years.
In 2018, he wrote and directed Pure Present, a tragic and contemporary trilogy which, for the first time in his career, directly tackled the question of the world of finance and of the dehumanisation of markets. As a follow-up, he started writing an operetta based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, a show aimed at children telling them to believe in their desires.
Love Triumphant will be performed at the 73rd edition of the Festival d’Avignon with very little technical means, a theatre at once uncompromising and full of lyricism and hope. Regardless of the place, regardless of the stage, Olivier Py regularly speaks about cultural policy in France and throughout the world, against the rise of extremism and the restriction of liberties, and for greater social justice as well as a renewed sense of hospitality.
In 2021, the Hamlet in the Imperative! adventure fulfills two of Olivier Py’s dreams: to stage a free outdoors dramatic series in the garden of the bibliothèque Ceccano, with both amateur and professional actors; and to present a radically new reading of the “”Hamlet continent””.
In 2022, for his last creation as artist-director of the Festival d’Avignon, Olivier Py returns to the epic. My exalted youth serves as a mirror to La Servante which, in 1995, marked the beginning of his adventure with this exceptional institution. Lasting over 10 hours, My exalted youth is a show of trust in the audience of the Festival, always ready to experience great epics.
Wherever the venue, whatever the stage, Olivier Py regularly speaks out on cultural policy in France and in the world, against the rise of extremism and attacks on freedom, and for greater social justice and a revived sense of hospitality.

Cast / Staff

Text : based on William Shakespeare
Translation and direction : Olivier Py

Cast: Damien Bigourdan, Céline Chéenne, Émilien Diard-Detoeuf, Bertrand de Roffignac, and Julien Jolly (music)

Music composition, Percussion : Julien Jolly
Assistant Director : Bertrand de Roffignac with the help of Julien Masson
Set construction: Ateliers du Festival d’Avignon

Producion : Festival d’Avignon
Coproduction : Le Théâtre Scène nationale de Saint-Nazaire
With support from l’École régionale d’acteurs de Cannes et de Marseille,
Théâtre du Châtelet
In collaboration with la bibliothèque Ceccano
Residency : La FabricA du Festival d’Avignon

Show created in July 2021 as part of the 75th Avignon Festival

Stage manager: MORIBE Rio
Stage: SUGIYAMA Yuri, TSUCHIYA Katsunori
Lighting: YOSHITSUGU Keisuke
Sound: WADA Masashi, HAYASHI Tetsuya
Wardrobe: MAKINO Saho
Art work: SATO Yosuke, YOSHIDA Yuna

Interpretation: ISHIKAWA Hiromi
Subtitle translation, subtitle operation: HIRANO Akihito
Subtitle supervisor: NISHIO Sachiko
Production: YUKIOKA Jun, IRIE Kyohei

Technical director: MURAMATSU Atsushi
Lighting manager: HIGUCHI Masayuki
Sound manager: SAWADA Yukino


◎Pre-Performance Talk: Starting 25 minutes before each performance in front of the venue.


* Admission to auditorium is restricted to children of school age and over.
* Seats with no backrest
* Performances will be held even if it rains. As the use of umbrellas is not permitted during a performance, please ensure you have suitable rainwear. You are also advised to bring warm clothes for night performances at this time of year.

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