Success in Avignon 2015

Four nights in a row Theatre NO99 played Tiit Ojasoo's and Ene-Liis Semper's NO51 My Wife Got Angry at the Avignon Theatre Festival to full houses. The feedback came in the form of immediate praise from the audience and a critical success in the French press, from the conservative Le Monde to the liberal Les Inrocks.

Avignon is considered to be Europe's, if not the world's most prestigious theatre event. This is because of the good choice of the Avignon official programme, but also because there are literally masses of theatre fans and practicioners, tens of thousands of them, that gather in this small city in Southern France. We did really well in Avignon, with the audience and as well with the critics, so here are a few clips from the reviews.

„How happy they were about the the praising shouts of the audience, these actors! At the end of the performace, the audience was applauding them à la russe, with the actors answering them with their own applause. You could read it in their eyes: „We did it!" One could imagine they felt proud, not only because of the reception of the production, but also because of the fact that they were the first from Estonia to be invited to Avignon. /.../ The actors of Theatre NO99 are excellent, often sheer virtuosos. They have a spectacular sense of rythm and there's something in their way of acting that conveys the spirit of the time,“ writes Brigitte Salino, the special correspondent of Le Monde at the Avignon Festival.

„Theatre NO99 from Estonia makes a sweeping breakthrough in Avignon. Mixing the codes of theatre and representation, NO51 My Wife Got Angry manages to create a balanced stage situation, a kind of photographic act of performance art. /.../ There's nothing didactic about this production, it uses the means of experimentation and gives an active role to the audience letting its gaze go between the stage to the screen, between life and its image. It thereby reminds each of us of the futility of such a distinction,“ Veronique Giraud writes at Naja21, a contemporary art site.

„Starting from a simple story about a man being dumped by his wife, who. leaving, destroys all their pictures from holidays, Ene-Liis Semper and Tiit Ojasoo (creators of NO99) take it to a production that is much less narrative and is composed of explosions of image and sound. /.../ NO51 is a theatre production in the form of a work of performance art, where frenzy meets humour and that delves into the relation between the individual and the image. Their production is the good surprise of the beginning of the 2015 edition of Avignon Festival,“ Rick Panegy, an independent theatre critic, writes.

NO51 My Wife Got Angry is a small bomb of a show, making it a must see work. It's the first big surprise of this year's Avignon Festival,“ Amelie Blaustein Niddam writes for the culture portal Toutelaculture.

„This ensemble is one of the big discoveries of the whole festival,“ Maria Emilia Alencar writes for Radio France Internationale's Brazilian Portuguese service.

Rosslyn Hyams from the English service of Radio France Internationale adds: „NO51 has proven quite popular, notably with a younger-than-average, Avignon-type audience. /.../ It’s the first time Theatre NO99 has been invited to Avignon, but given the way NO51 My Wife Got Angry has been received, it could be the beginning of a more lasting relationship with the Festival.“

„From the intimate to the social, from hints to well made comedy to a disctructive happening - Semper and Ojasoo manage – with no apparent effort – to distract the audience with laughter only to prove that just as the actors on the stage, everybody in the audience could be a true artist,“ Patrick Sourd writes in Les Inrocks.

„Theatre NO99 has a hightened sense for set design, rythm, freedom of the body and stage movement, all of these being at a superb level,“ Emmanuelle Bouchez writes for Telerama.

"Theatre NO99 from Estonia brings to us with their NO51 My Wife Got Angry a fable in the form of theatre and photography. /.../ It is an excellent treatment of the relationship of the contemporay man to images. It has the magic of the theatre together with the magic of photography, melting movements and images … NO51 is not merely a marvelously performed excercise. The work of these superbly gifted Estonians takes us to where at the meeting point of the virtual and the real a collision takes place that paralyzes our society. It takes us to the falsity of the images juxtaposed with falsities of humans. It takes us to a kind of art that in order to make life beautiful, becomes life's vampire. Side by side with the festivals heavy weights (Py, Lupa, Ostermeier) Theatre NO99 ideally plays the role of the powerful counterpoint,“ Philippe Chevilley writes for Les Echos.

Some links to reviews (July 2015):
Radio France Internationale
Les Echos
Le Monde
Toute Le Culture
Les Inrocks