Friday, March 27, 2015

Celebrate - World Theatre Day 2015

Celebrate - World Theatre Day 2015



World Theater Day Message 2015

The true masters of the theater are most easily found far from the stage. And they generally have no interest in theater as a machine for replicating conventions and reproducing clich├ęs. They search out the pulsing source, the living currents that tend to bypass performance halls and the throngs of people bent on copying some world or another. We copy instead of create worlds that are focused or even reliant on debate with an audience, on emotions that swell below the surface. And actually there is nothing that can reveal hidden passions better than the theater.



Most often I turn to prose for guidance. Day in and day out I find myself thinking about writers who nearly one hundred years ago described prophetically but also restrainedly the decline of the European gods, the twilight that plunged our civilization into a darkness that has yet to be illumined. I am thinking of Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann and Marcel Proust. Today I would also count John Maxwell Coetzee among that group of prophets.

Their common sense of the inevitable end of the world—not of the planet but of the model of human relations—and of social order and upheaval, is poignantly current for us here and now. For us who live after the end of the world. Who live in the face of crimes and conflicts that daily flare in new places faster even than the ubiquitous media can keep up. These fires quickly grow boring and vanish from the press reports, never to return. And we feel helpless, horrified and hemmed in. We are no longer able to build towers, and the walls we stubbornly construct do not protect us from anything—on the contrary, they themselves demand protection and care that consumes a great part of our life energy. We no longer have the strength to try and glimpse what lies beyond the gate, behind the wall. And that’s exactly why theater should exist and where it should seek its strength. To peek inside where looking is forbidden.

“The legend seeks to explain what cannot be explained. Because it is grounded in truth, it must end in the inexplicable”—this is how Kafka described the transformation of the Prometheus legend. I feel strongly that the same words should describe the theater. And it is that kind of theater, one which is grounded in truth and which finds its end in the inexplicable that I wish for all its workers, those on the stage and those in the audience, and I wish that with all my heart.

Krzysztof Warlikowski
Translation: Philip Boehm
Supported by Theatre Communications Group and the U.S. Center of ITI



The 2015 Canadian World Theatre Day message is written by Mieko Ouchi, an accomplished actor, writer, and director who is currently Artistic Director of Concrete Theatre in Edmonton AB. The message was translated into French by Mishka Lavigne, an Ottawa-based playwright.
Mieko Ouchi is a Canadian actor, writer, director, dramaturg, and much sought-after teacher. Her plays have been produced across Canada and the U.S. and have been finalists for the 4 Play Reading Series at The Old Vic in London, the Governor General’s Award for Drama, the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award and the City of Edmonton Book Prize. Ouchi’s work spans everything from Theatre for Young Audiences to large scale adult work, often exploring issues around diversity and the artist’s process and involves a mixing of the techniques, vocabulary and imagery of theatre and film.

2015 Canadian World Theatre Day Message
(French-language translation by Mishka Lavigne below)
“I can see myself in all things and all people around me.”
— Sanskrit Phrase


The world we are living in today, is a place in deep flux. One that feels increasingly uncertain and precarious. Power is shifting. Economies are rupturing. We are confronted by unthinkable acts of inhumanity. And while on some fronts concepts of equality are moving forward, in other ways we are increasingly being pushed backward into separate and potentially more extreme corners by forces on many sides. Into perilous ideas of Us and Them. Right and Wrong. Black and White.

Faced with this stark reality, we can find ourselves wondering at the purpose of art. The purpose of theatre. And yet, isn’t this a time when theatre might be needed more than ever?

For we in the theatre understand deeply that no human is one thing alone. Drama shows us again and again that we are made up of many selves and wear many different identities. That we can be, and indeed already are, simultaneously part of multiple groups and communities. This recognition of the complex intersection of who we are is a powerful idea, and one that allows us the empathy and compassion to see ourselves in others.

That is something worth sharing.

In professional theatre spaces, community halls, meeting rooms, school gyms and drama rooms, daycares and seniors centres, outdoor parks, streets and found spaces... indeed any place that even a single performer and a single audience member can gather, theatre can offer a potent and powerful moment of communion and connection for the performers and viewers watching the same human experience acted out before them. That is what theatre does best.

And that is something worth pursuing.

In a time when some are fighting to erect boundaries or guard the ones already in place, we have the opportunity, if we take up the cause, to use art, empowerment and solidarity, as our answer to those who would see the rest of the world live only as they do. To anyone who would stand in the way of a fellow human claiming an equal and respected place at the table. To people who would deny any one of us the opportunity to be who we were born as or who we wish to be. Who we truly are. Freedom of speech and self expression are not things we can ever take for granted.

They are worth standing up for.

But to do these things, to be needed and relevant, it will require us to look inward and confront our own biases and assumptions. To look outward and challenge ourselves to give voice to the width and breadth of all perspectives we need to move forward. The confronting viewpoints we need to push ourselves to ask the most difficult of questions. It will take conscious effort to dissolve old walls and glass ceilings. To welcome everyone in.

But we are not alone in this struggle. Each and every one of us who counts themselves a member of the Theatre family, is also a member of a universal and ancient clan of tricksters and clowns. Of singers and dancers. Of storytellers and artists. Of provocateurs and historians. Traced in a continuous line back to the very beginnings of human existence. Who have always used their voices and bodies, their ideas and stories, to entertain, divert, energize, enlighten, expose, educate, ignite, prod, criticize, provoke and challenge. A group who have used their collective power to bring people together. To change people’s minds. To transform the world.

That is something to be proud of.