31 March 2006

World Theatre Day

At a wonderful reading on Wednesday night by Gordon Portman, I learned that Monday 27 March 2006 was World Theatre Day. I'm coming to it late, but I want to write about it anyway. According to the International Theatre Institute/UNESCO site, "World Theatre Day is an occasion for theatre people to celebrate the power of the performing arts to bring people together, it is an opportunity to share with their audiences a certain vision of their art and its capacity to contribute to understanding and peace between peoples." Each year around the world there is a multiplicity of events to celebrate the day, including performances, parades, awards, symposia, and festivals. There is also an annual International Message where "a figure outstanding in theatre or a person outstanding in heart and spirit from another field, is invited to share his or her reflections on theatre and international harmony." The first International Message was given by Jean Cocteau; this year the message was written by Mexican playwright Victor Hugo Rascón Banda. Here is an excerpt from Rascón Banda's speech: "The theatre moves, illuminates, disquiets, disturbs, lifts the spirit, reveals, provokes and violates conventions. It is a conversation shared with society. Theatre is the first art to confront emptiness, shadows and silence to make words, movement, lights and life surge forth. Theatre is a living creature that destroys itself as it is created, but always arises from the ashes. It is a magic communication in which all people give and receive something that transforms them. The theatre reflects humankind’s existential anguish and unravels the human condition. It is not its creators who speak through the theatre, but rather the society of the epoch." You can read the entire speech here.

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