Happy World Theatre Day 2014!
You forgot it was World Theatre Day today, didn’t you?
You didn’t even send Theatre a gift. Or a simple call. And you didn’t even email!
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Believe it or not, we’ve been celebrating WTD since 1961 (!). However, I’m sure the majority of theatre professionals out there don’t even know it exists (marketing, anyone?). Certainly WTD isn’t talked about at Broadway Industry functions. Most likely, this is a result of the chasm of a divide that exists between the non-profit theatrical world and the commercial one. (Note to self – let’s do something about that – because isn’t all theater still theater, no matter if you get your money through donations or investments?) Another part of the problem may be that the website is in French. (Visit the NYC satellite site here).
Back to the point . . .
In 1961, an organization known as the International Theatre Institute (something else that we probably all didn’t know existed) proclaimed March 27th . . . today . . . World Freekin’ Theatre Day. (Ok, so the official title didn’t have the Freakin’ in it, but I just think this day is pretty cool, and when I get excited I say things like “Freakin”).
Events will happen all over the world today celebrating the unique art form that is the theater. And each and every year, the ITI picks one writer to designate the World Theatre Day Message Author. That writer then composes an essay to commemorate today, and inspire tomorrow. Past Message Authors have been Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Judi Dench, and more.
This year’s is Brett Bailey, wh0 you’ve probably also never heard of . . . which is what makes him a great choice for this year’s message. Brett is a South African playwright, designer, director and “installation maker.” And as you’ll read in the transcript which I’ve posted below, he speaks about bringing the theatrical world together . . . to collaborate, to crowdsource our future.
But before I post his “message,” let me wish you all a wonderful World Theatre Day. Want a way to celebrate? Go out and see a show and remember why you got into this craziness in the first place.
The Message from 2014 World Theatre Day Author Brett Bailey
‘Wherever there is human society, the irrepressible Spirit of Performance manifests.
Under trees in tiny villages, and on high tech stages in global metropolis; in school halls and in fields and in temples; in slums, in urban plazas, community centres and inner-city basements, people are drawn together to commune in the ephemeral theatrical worlds that we create to express our human complexity, our diversity, our vulnerability, in living flesh, and breath, and voice.
We gather to weep and to remember; to laugh and to contemplate; to learn and to affirm and to imagine. To wonder at technical dexterity, and to incarnate gods. To catch our collective breath at our capacity for beauty and compassion and monstrosity. We come to be energized, and to be empowered. To celebrate the wealth of our various cultures, and to dissolve the boundaries that divide us.
Wherever there is human society, the irrepressible Spirit of Performance manifests. Born of community, it wears the masks and the costumes of our varied traditions. It harnesses our languages and rhythms and gestures, and clears a space in our midst. And we, the artists that work with this ancient spirit, feel compelled to channel it through our hearts, our ideas and our bodies to reveal our realities in all their mundanity and glittering mystery.
But, in this era in which so many millions are struggling to survive, are suffering under oppressive regimes and predatory capitalism, are fleeing conflict and hardship; in which our privacy is invaded by secret services and our words are censored by intrusive governments; in which forests are being annihilated, species exterminated, and oceans poisoned: what do we feel compelled to reveal?
In this world of unequal power, in which various hegemonic orders try to convince us that one nation, one race, one gender, one sexual preference, one religion, one ideology, one cultural framework is superior to all others, is it really defensible to insist that the arts should be unshackled from social agendas?
Are we, the artists of arenas and stages, conforming to the sanitized demands of the market, or seizing the power that we have: to clear a space in the hearts and minds of society, to gather people around us, to inspire, enchant and inform, and to create a world of hope and open-hearted collaboration?’
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