Born in Sète in 1912, Jean Vilar always remained attached to the elements which had accompanied him since his childhood: “The sun and the sky, the sea and the winds, the most beautiful theatre in the world, a gift to the imagination where everything is possible.”
At the age of 20, he went to Paris and by chance attended a rehearsal of Charles Dullin’s version of Richard III: he decided to make a career in the theatre and registered at the school for stage direction. He then worked as assistant administrator in Dullin’s Théâtre de l’Atelier.
In 1941, André Clavé signed him up in his company La Roulotte, and he went on his first big tour with Jean Desailly, François Darbon and Andrée Clément… He was 29.
Two years later, he founded La Compagnie des Sept, and in 1945 burst onto the scene of contemporary theatre with T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral.
When René Char and his friends Christian and Yvonne Zervos offered him the opportunity of performing Murder in the Cathedral at the Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace) in Avignon, Jean Vilar responded by bringing three new pieces thus giving birth to the Festival d’Avignon!