Celebrating World Theatre Day in my little corner of the planet

wtd-avatar2This coming Friday, March 27, theatre artists the world over will spend part of their day acknowledging and honouring the larger community of the art form they share in. Designated “World Theatre Day” by the International Theatre Institute, this a marvelous opportunity for us to celebrate together an art form and a way of life that binds us, regardless of borders, language or political differences. It’s a day of communion.

A small group of us theatre types from several points around the planet got to talking about this day on twitter a while back (twitter’s handy for pan-continental conversation) and decided it was a worthy enough idea to give it some broader exposure. So being fairly Web 2.0-minded, we set up a blog to raise some awareness and to act as a virtual gathering spot for our fellow theatre artists to meet ‘n greet. Our mission, in a nutshell, was this:

1. Do something that expresses your love of theatre.

2. Share it with the world.

Well, I’m proud to say the idea has proven to have legs. I’d even go so far as to say it’s taken flight. We’ve been getting letters telling us about WTD events that we’ve had to run through google translator to be able to read. Here, check the WTD map. My favourite response on the blog so far told us that: وب لاگ نوجوانان linked here saying, “1 فروردين: روز جهاني رفع تبع …” It’s wonderful, and wonderfully inspiring.

The key to the project is its simplicity. We’re fascilitating that part of us that loves to be a part of a community bound by passion. We would love you to join us if you feel so inclined.

Here’s what I’m doing on Friday. Two members of my theatre company just so happen to be involved in a play that’s running that night. One of them wrote it, the other is in it. (It’s Bill Marchant’s Ashes at the Firehall, click here for all the info, and a word from Bill.) So we’re taking the night off from creating, and we’re taking a field trip…dinner together, drinks, then we’re going to sit in the dark and watch some enlightening art. The director of the play is reading Augusto Boal’s WTD message just before curtain, which I’m going to video tape and upload to the site for all to see. After the play we’re all going to trip down to the Vancouver WTD after-party and raise a glass to our fellow artists around the world, and drop some good wishes onto the site as well. I hope to see you there, live in person or on the blog.

What are you guys doing? Share in the comments, or better yet, upload some video, photos or text to the media feed like this…

World Theatre Day ’09 speech released

It was with great pride that I published last year’s World Theatre Day speech by Canadian icon Robert Lepage here on The Next Stage. The International Theatre Institute, a organization comprised of 96 member countries (or centres, of which Canada is not yet one), has celebrated March 27 as a day to honour the devotees of performance art the world over since 1961. Every year a theatre arts luminary is invited to compose a speech in honour of the day, and to have that speech read before performances on that day all over the world.

As someone who is fortunate enough to be in constant communication with amazing theatre artists around the world through my submersion in the blogosphere – peers that I am constantly being educated and fueled by – I find the idea of celebrating our common passion together on one devoted day enchanting. A small group of us from Canada, the US, Australia and Great Britain have started a little town square here on the World Wide Web to hang out in on March 27 and share our unique experiences of the day together. Our intent is to celebrate community and leave behind a chronicle of the party. Please join us, the door is wide open.

As tradition holds, the kick-off to the WTD celebration is heralded by the publishing of the message by the ITI. This year’s chosen composer is Augusto Boal. For those of you who don’t know, his story goes a little like this:

augustoboaldolivrojeuxpouracteursBoal took an interest in theatre at an early age, but did not become involved himself until he received his degree. Shortly after graduating from university, Boal was asked to work with the Arena Theatre in São Paulo, southeast Brazil. It was here that he began to experiment with new forms of theatre.

Boal’s teachings were controversial, and as a cultural activist he was seen as a threat by the Brazilian military regime. In 1971 Boal was arrested and tortured. He was eventually exiled to Argentina, where in 1973 he published his first book “Theatre of the Oppressed“. He later fled to Europe, and eventually lived in Paris. There he taught his revolutionary approach to theatre for 12 years, creating several Centers for the Theatre of Oppressed, and in 1981, organizing the first International Festival for the Theatre of Oppressed.

After the fall of Brazil’s military dictatorship, Boal returned to Rio de Janeiro where he lives to this day. He has since established a major Center for the Theater of the Oppressed in Rio (CTO Rio), and has started over a dozen theater companies that work to develop community-based projects.

From wikipedia.

My pride this year comes not from being able to reprint Mr. Boal’s speech, but to be able to link to it on a bunch of other blogs. It’s such a great indicator of the surging of the popularity of my beloved art form.

You can read the speech here.

Or here.

Or here.

Or here.

Or even here.

The revolution will not be televised, but it just might be blogged. Theatre nerds unite!

Come join the World Theatre Day celebrations!

businessyLast year, I did a job for our local Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance–publicity for their annual World Theatre Day celebrations.

World Theatre Day takes place every year on March 27, and is the brainchild of the International Theatre Institute. It’s aim is to:

…promote international exchange of knowledge and practice in theatre arts (drama, dance, music, theatre) in order to consolidate peace and solidarity between peoples, to deepen mutual understanding and increase creative co-operation between all people in the theatre arts.

Pretty cool, hey?

So, last year, our WTD celebrations took place – with the participation and cooperation of  many of our local companies – all during the week of March 27. And we were very successful in getting the attention of both the media and the local community.

I’m helping out with publicity for our local WTD celebrations again this year, but I started thinking… what if we made this thing truly international? We have the technology…  So, I’m pleased to announce that, with the help and support of The Next Stage, we are throwing a World Theatre Day party, and everyone’s invited!

We’ve started a blog: http://wtd09.wordpress.com. If you are interested in participating, details are there, but basically, we want to hear what your local theatre community is doing to celebrate the power of theatre. And, on March 27, we want you to log in and live blog your events, upload pictures or videos… we want to hear from you!

It’s gonna be a great party, and the more theatre lovers/bloggers/producers/writers/artists get invovled, the better it’s going to be! I, for one, just can’t wait to get this party started….

Click here to join the party!

Rebecca is a contributing columnist and founder of Rebecca Coleman Marketing and Media Relations, a Vancouver PR company. She blogs at artofthebiz.com and twitters under @rebeccacoleman