AICT-IATC President Jenkins and ATCA Chair Chávez offer thoughts on World Theatre Day

AICT-IATC President Jenkins and ATCA Chair Chávez offer thoughts on World Theatre Day

World Theatre Day (WTD) has been celebrated around the world since 1962 on the 27th of March as both a party and a commitment. The organization’s website notes (using British spellings) that the day “is a celebration for those who can see the value and importance of the art form ‘theatre’, and acts as a wake-up-call for governments, politicians and institutions which have not yet recognised its value to the people and to the individual and have not yet realised its potential for economic growth.”

Norwegian writer and playwright Jon Fosse penned the 2024 WTD message “Art is Peace” that can be found on the WTD website. A selection from that statement:

“War is the battle against what lies deep inside all of us: something unique. And it is also a battle against art, against what lies deep inside all art. I have been speaking here about art in general, not about theater or playwriting in particular, but that is because, as I’ve said, all good art, deep down, revolves around the same thing: taking the utterly unique, the utterly specific, and making it universal. Uniting the particular with the universal by means of expressing it artistically: not eliminating its specificity but emphasizing this specificity, letting what is foreign and unfamiliar shine clearly through. War and art are opposites, just as war and peace are opposites—it’s as simple as that. Art is peace.”

Jon Fosse, Norway, Message for World Theatre Day 2024

International Association of Theatre Critics (AICT-IATC) President Jeffrey Eric Jenkins posted his 2024 WTD statement “Looking Forward in Turbulent Times” on the AICT-IATC website. Selections from that statement follow:

World Theatre Day reminds us of the critical role of theatre in preserving cultural heritage and promoting genuine human connection in an increasingly digital world. The intimacy of live performance fosters empathy, understanding, and a sense of community, essential in countering the isolation created by screens and technology.

Theatre can be an important platform for the marginalized and the silenced. It challenges societal norms, confronts injustices, and stimulates dialogue. Theatre has the power to inspire change, from groundbreaking works addressing race, gender, and sexuality to productions illuminating forgotten histories.

World Theatre Day also calls us to acknowledge the hurdles facing the theatre community, especially highlighted by the pandemic’s devastating impact. The resilience of this community in the face of adversity—through virtual and outdoor performances—demonstrated the unyielding spirit of theatre.

As we look forward, supporting and nurturing emerging talent is crucial for the continued vibrancy of theatre. Investment in arts education and providing opportunities for aspiring artists will ensure the enduring relevance of this ancient art. Making theatre more accessible and inclusive will help dismantle barriers, making it a more universal embodiment of expression.

Let World Theatre Day stand as a testament to the indomitability of the human spirit. Let it reaffirm our capacity for creativity, empathy, and resilience. In a world fragmented by political and ideological divides, let theatre unite us in our shared humanity.

Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, President AICT-IATC, “World Theatre Day: Looking Forward in Turbulent Times”

And ATCA’s own Chair David John Chávez offered a message to ATCA members on March 27, 2024:

“World Theatre Day … is the perfect opportunity to remind you that your voices in your respective communities make a difference. Ever since the return of theater from the pandemic, there have been countless challenges. Every corner of theater has been impacted, and it still feels we are trying to find our way to a sustainable normal. Thank you for continuing to offer your critical lens to theater, and all you do to amplify this ancient art form which gives us endless opportunities to continue exploring our shared humanity.”

Celebrating theater in all forms serves as an antidote to violence and war, as a means to preserve cultural heritage and stimulate dialogue, and to celebrate the artform. And the best way to celebrate World Theatre Day may well be to attend a live performance. Hie thee to a theater.

— Assembled, edited, annotated by Martha Wade Steketee

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