The day is celebrated every year on March 27 by International Theatre Institute Centers around the world. This year, a U.S. message for the day has been composed by Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor Jeffrey Wright. The international message has been composed by artist, academic and humanitarian Jessica A. Kaahwa, who is from Uganda.
This year's International Theatre Day will honor Ellen Stewart, the founding artistic director of the LaMama Experimental Theatre, who passed away Jan. 13. Stewart composed the World Theatre Day international message in 1975 and was considered an active force in the international theatre community.
Wright, in addition to his work as an actor (A Free Man of Color, Topdog/Underdog, Angels in America), is chairman of the Taia Peace Foundation, which handles development work in Sierra Leone. An excerpt from his message reads, “If we listen well and observe, the theater’s gift to us is the sly suggestion that what occurs within its walls can occur without them, too – that the world is changeable.”
Kaahwa's international message will be translated into more than 20 languages and distributed to tens of thousands of audiences around the world. Her plays include Cornerstone, Dog-Bite Justice, Paradise for Ever, Echoes of Peace and Drums of Freedom; she has directed and starred in several of her plays, among other projects, and is a senior lecturer at Makerere University in Uganda. She writes, in part, “To anticipate a peaceful future, we must begin by using peaceful means that seek to understand, respect and recognize the contributions of every human being in the business of harnessing peace. Theatre is that universal language by which we can advance messages of peace and reconciliation.”
To read the complete messages from Wright and Kaahwa, and to learn more about World Theatre Day celebrations, visit tcg.org.