Tag Archives: World Theatre Day

On World Theatre Day: Long live the theatre. The most wondrous art form.

1

Gilbert Glenn Brown, Suanne Spoke in “The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek” Fountain Theatre 

by Sabina Berman

We can imagine.

The tribe launches small stones to bring down birds from the air, when a gigantic mammoth bursts in on the scene and ROARS –and at the same time, a tiny human ROARS like the mammoth. Then, everyone runs away…

That mammoth roar uttered by a human woman –I would like to imagine her as a woman– is the origin of what makes us the species we are. A species capable of imitating what we are not. A species capable of representing the Other.

Let’s leap forward ten years, or a hundred, or a thousand. The tribe has learned how to imitate other beings: deep in the cave, in the flickering light of a bonfire, four men are the mammoth, three women are the river, men and women are birds, bonobos, trees, clouds: the tribe represents the morning’s hunt, thus capturing the past with their theatrical gift. Even more amazing: the tribe then invents possible futures, essaying possible ways to vanquish the mammoth, the enemy of the tribe.

Roars, whistles, murmurs –the onomatopoeia of our first theatre—will become verbal language. Spoken language will become written language. Down another pathway, theatre will become rite and then, cinema.

But along these latter forms, and in the seed of each one of these latter forms, there will always continue to be theatre. The simplest form of representation. The only living form of representation.

Theatre: the simpler it is, the more intimately it connects us to the most wondrous human skill, that of representing the Other.

Today, in all the theatres of the world we celebrate that glorious human skill of performance. Of representing and thus, capturing our past —and of inventing possible futures, that can bring to the tribe more freedom and happiness.

What are the mammoths that must be vanquished today by the human tribe? What are its contemporary enemies? About what should theatre that aspires to be more than entertainment be about?

For me, the greatest mammoth of all is the alienation of human hearts. The loss of our capacity to feel with Others: to feel compassion for our fellow humans and for our fellow non-human living forms.

What a paradox. Today, at the final shores of Humanism —of the Anthropocene— of the era in which human beings are the natural force that has changed the planet the most, and will continue to do so— the mission of the theatre is –in my view– the opposite of that which gathered the tribe when theatre was performed at the back of the cave: today, we must salvage our connection to the natural world.

More than literature, more than cinema, the theatre —which demands the presence of human beings before other human beings— is marvelously suited to the task of saving us from becoming algorithms, pure abstractions.

Let us remove everything superfluous from the theatre. Let us strip it naked. Because the
simpler theatre is, the more apt it is to remind us of the only undeniable thing: that we are, while we are in time; that we are only while we are flesh and bone and hearts beating in our breasts; that we are the here and now, and no more.

Long live the theatre. The most ancient art. The art of being in the present. The most wondrous art. Long live the theatre.

Sabina Berman, born in Mexico City, is a writer and journalist. Considered to be Mexico’s most critically and commercially successful contemporary playwright, Berman is one of the most prolific living writers in the Spanish language.

Today is World Theatre Day.

 

Why We Do Theater

"The Ballad of Emmett Till" (2010). Photo by Ed Krieger

Today is World Theatre Day. For those of us who create and/or attend and support theater, today is the appropriate time to ask ourselves: “Why?” Why are we so passionate about this extraordinary art form? What is it about seeing a play or musical that has the power to change lives and open eyes, minds and hearts? This sacred ritual of human beings gathering together in a space to share the life-enhancing experience of being told a story that illuminates what it means to be a human being.

Why do we do it? Why is it still important to see theater and support it? Why do YOU create and/or support theater?

Here is one person’s answer: theater artist and teacher Patsy Rodenburg:

Theater Artists are “Healers” Who “Witness the Truth”

“To be present or not to be present?” is the question Patsy Rodenburg would ask all of us; she’s trying to bring the highly practical techniques that make actors successful to the rest of us. There’s often an inflexible screen between us human beings and the performances we’re shoehorned into every day, and we need to tear it out — establishing a space she calls “the Second Circle“: a state of mind and body where confident, relaxed control allows us establish intimacy and human connection where and when we want it.

With years behind her already as the eminent proponent of the use of Shakespeare in teaching for the present day (not just for actors, but for public speakers, prison inmates, and the mentally ill; see her book Speaking Shakespeare), she’s also spent years as a voice coach, perhaps Britain’s most highly-regarded. The actors on her formidable roster of have-taughts include Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Daniel Day-Lewis, many other Oscar-nominees and winners, as well as other shining figures of the silver screen and the stage.

As a teacher of acting, Rodenburg is known for her emphasis of the primacy of the human voice. In her book The Actor Speaks, she illustrates how solving the frustrating physical challenges of line delivery — questions as pragmatic as “When do I breathe?” to more philosophical ones like “How to get my message across to other actors?” — can open up new paths to performances which go beyond stage-ready to unforgettable.

She currently serves as Director of Voice at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and teaches voice at Michael Howard Studios in New York City.

How would YOU answer the question: Why I do Theater?

From John Malkovich on World Theatre Day: “Teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity.”

Today is World Theatre Day. Stage and film star John Malkovich delivered this year’s message from Paris at the headquarters of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and its theater wing, the International Theatre Institute.

Malkovich’s Message:

“I’m honored to have been asked by the International Theatre Institute ITI at UNESCO to give this greeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day. I will address my brief remarks to my fellow theatre workers, peers and comrades.

“May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do.

“May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life’s work. And may the best of you – for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments – succeed in framing that most basic of questions, ‘how do we live?’ Godspeed.”

– John Malkovich

Tuesday, March 27, is World Theatre Day

John Malkovich to give International Message

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre and home of the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute (ITI-US), invites all theatres, individual artists, institutions and audiences to celebrate the 50th annual World Theatre Day on March 27, 2012. Created in 1961, World Theatre Day is celebrated annually by ITI Centers around the world and the international theatre community.

Each year, a renowned theatre artist of world stature is invited by ITI Worldwide in Paris to craft an international message to mark the global occasion. This year’s message was written by award-winning actor, director and producer John Malkovich.

In honor of World Theatre Day’s 50th celebration, TCG asks its membership, theatre makers and audiences to participate in ongoing World Theatre Day projects like the I AM THEATRE video project and by submitting essays for the Circle on the theme of Generations Without Borders.

TCG also encourages the dissemination of Malkovich’s message through email, Twitter and Facebook, as well as in theatre programs and pre-show speeches to help raise awareness of World Theatre Day.

Visit the World Theatre Day website for more ways to get involved!

A Message from John Malkovich

John Malkovich in rehearsal for a play in Santa Monica (2008).

Stage and screen star John Malkovich will deliver the opening message for the 50th annual World Theatre Day on March 27. He will deliver this year’s message from Paris at the headquarters of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and its theater wing, the International Theatre Institute.

Malkovich’s Message:

“I’m honored to have been asked by the International Theatre Institute ITI at UNESCO to give this greeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day. I will address my brief remarks to my fellow theatre workers, peers and comrades.

“May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do.

“May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life’s work. And may the best of you – for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments – succeed in framing that most basic of questions, ‘how do we live?’ Godspeed.”

– John Malkovich