• Theater musical
  • Show
The 2021 archive

Brett Bailey

Cape Town / First time in France

Brett Bailey adapts the biblical myth of Samson for our contemporary era with its hatred and violence, in a maelstrom of classical song, sacred ritual, images, and hypnotic rhythms.

Samson, Brett Bailey, 2021 © Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d'Avignon


His people called him a saviour. More like a loaded gun...
On a dark stage, a ceremony is about to begin. A man in a strange headdress stands in the centre of a circle, while a preacher recounts the story of his life. Samson – hero of the Old Testament and child of Israel – lives under the brutal domination of the Philistines. Dedicated to God as a Nazirite to free his people, he is forbidden from ever cutting his hair, the source of his extraordinary strength. His tragic love for two women from the enemy camp, including the spellbinding Delilah, will lead to humiliation, betrayal, and revenge. The South African director delves into this ancient story, re-contextualising it in both the colonial period and our own era, with its rampant capitalism, migration crises, and xenophobia. Enraptured in a trance, Samson – one of the great archetypes of fury – becomes the symbol of the humiliation and repressed rage of enslaved peoples throughout the ages. Brett Bailey employs classical opera, electronic beats and walls of images to lead us into a bewitching and apocalyptic world where violence and poetry reign.


With Shane Cooper, Mikhaela Kruger, Mvakalisi Madotyeni, Zimbini Makwethu, Marlo Minnaar, Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi, Apollo Ntshoko, Elvis Sibeko, Jonno Sweetman, Abey Xakwe

Text and distribution Brett Bailey
Choreography Elvis Sibeko
Music Shane Cooper
Stage design Brett Bailey, Tanya P. Johnson
Lights Kobus Rossouw
Video Kirsti Cumming
Sound Marcel Bezuidenhout
Translation in french for the surtitles Hélène Muron

Production administrators Barbara Mathers (Third World Bunfight), Sarah Ford (Quaternaire)


Production Third World Bunfight
With the support of National Lottery Commission (South Africa), French Institute in South Africa, Onda - Office national de diffusion artistique
Support for the takeover Festival d'Avignon, Grec Festival (Barcelona)
In partnership with France Médias Monde

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Press conference - 8 July

  • Press conference
  • Baptiste Amann
  • Brett Bailey
  • Maguy Marin
  • Rosalba Torres Guerrero
  • Koen Augustijnen

The 2021 archive