World Theatre Day was created in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute, and is celebrated annually on March 27 by ITI Centers and the international theatre community. Various national and international theatre events are organized to celebrate the International Message and remarks from national cultural leaders.
The first World Theatre Day International Message was written by Jean Cocteau in 1962. This year ITI asked Dame Judi Dench to pen the International World Theatre Day Message. In addition, TCG, which is home to the US Center of ITI, has invited Lynn Nottage, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Ruined, to issue her remarks on the occasion.
Both statements will be translated into more than 20 languages, distributed to tens of thousands of audiences prior to performances, printed in hundreds of daily newspapers, and heard on countless radio and television stations.
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International Message by Dame Judi Dench
World Theatre Day is an opportunity to celebrate Theatre in all its myriad forms. Theatre is a source of entertainment and inspiration and has the ability to unify the many diverse cultures and peoples that exist throughout the world. But theatre is more than that and also provides opportunities to educate and inform.
Theatre is performed throughout the world and not always in a traditional theatre setting. Performances can occur in a small village in Africa, next to a mountain in Armenia, on a tiny island in the Pacific. All it needs is a space and an audience. Theatre has the ability to make us smile, to make us cry, but should also make us think and reflect.
Theatre comes about through team work. Actors are the people who are seen, but there is an amazing set of people who are not seen. They are equally as important as the actors and their differing and specialist skills make it possible for a production to take place. They too must share in any triumphs and successes that may hopefully occur.
March 27 is always the official World Theatre Day. In many ways every day should be considered a theatre day, as we have a responsibility to continue the tradition to entertain, to educate and to enlighten our audiences, without whom we couldn’t exist.
Download the message in:
Arabic | English | French| Spanish
Bio for Dame Judi Dench
US Message by Lynn Nottage
It’s been said that the role of an artist is to keep their eyes open, when everyone else’s are shut.
It’s a beautiful and simple sentiment. We are cultural watchdogs. We stand at attention, observing and reacting. We excavate, uncover, interpret and unravel. We protect tradition and shape new ones. We look inward…and then outward to find ways to better understand our selves.
We live in a world that has become increasingly interconnected through the ascendancy of new media, yet paradoxically more fractured by racism, religion, politics and economics. Our venerated financial institutions are crumbling and petty partisan fights paralyze our governments. Our insatiable need for oil and precious minerals fuel deadly armed conflicts in places like Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Poverty and suffering have become givens in a world of abundance, and women continue to fight for basic human rights and dignity in most countries. Hate, not love, fuel religious revolutions, poisoning generations of young men and women merely searching for meaning. We look for solutions in the recycling bins, and turn on the television to drown out our woes. This is our world, shaped by our own design, chaotic and unruly, yet beautiful and infinitely fascinating.
As artists and global citizens, the world continues to demand our attention, and as such we must be intrepid explorers, daring to venture into uncomfortable zones to unearth difficult truths. We must be unafraid to look honestly at the human condition and try to come to terms with its contradictions and flaws. That means approaching our work not as journalists, but as fabulators, storytellers, breaking rules to help reimagine the world. We must be truthful, while spinning yarns. It is the paradox of our creative process that gives us access to places we dare not go in our everyday lives. It emboldens us to ask difficult questions about war, race, religion, poverty, love and hatred.
Theatre is a place where we can collectively share our laughter, shed our tears and loudly demonstrate our joy or frustration. Theatre has the incredible capacity to be soul healing; it allows both the audience and artist to purge toxins and exorcise collective demons.
I challenge all of us to sustain the complexity of our world; to invite a multitude of diverse voices onto the stage. We must open the doors and windows of our theatres to let the world in. It is our responsibility; it is our burden and our gift.
We are fabulators….we are cultural watchdogs.
Download the message in:
Arabic | English | French | Spanish
Bio for Lynn Nottage, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Ruined