The annual event was founded in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute, whose mission is to “promote international exchange of knowledge and practice in theatre arts in order to consolidate peace and friendship between peoples, to deepen mutual understanding and increase creative co-operation between all people in the theatre arts.”
Each year, as part of World Theatre Day, a world-renowned figure is invited to craft a message on the theme of theatre and a culture of peace. This year’s message will come from celebrated stage and film actress Dame Judi Dench. It will be translated into 20 languages and read for tens of thousands of audience members worldwide. If you’re seeing a show on March 27, you may be one of that throng, or you can read the message here.
For the first time ever, a national message will also be delivered. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage (Ruined) has crafted a message for the American theatre community at the request of Theatre Communications Group, the U.S. center for the International Theatre Institute. “Theatre is a place where we can collectively share our laughter, shed our tears and loudly demonstrate our joy or frustration,” Nottage says. “Theatre has the incredible capacity to be soul healing; it allows both the audience and artist to purge toxins and exorcise collective demons.”
There are several events celebrating World Theatre Day in New York City; there is also an official proclamation by Mayor Bloomberg. And, there are shows around the city where the international messages will be read and/or distributed, and the annual Flash Mobs: large-scale public performances throughout Manhattan. For more information on Flash Mobs or other NYC events, visit www.nycwtd.com.
“We are so pleased that World Theatre Day is starting to take hold in this country,” said TCG executive director Teresa Eyring in a statement. “The enthusiasm and creativity that the New York City World Theatre Day Coalition is bringing to their events are great examples of how to honor and acknowledge this global day of recognition for theatre arts, theatrical support and international exchanges.”