If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud-Emile Zola
World Theatre Day was commenced in the year 1961 by International Theatre Institute (ITI), an international non-governmental institution founded by UNESCO. Since then, it has been observed every year on 27 March by ITI centres, theatre organizations, theatre professionals, theatre lovers, schools, and academies all over the world. Numerous theatre activities, national as well as international, are held to celebrate the occasion for those who recognize and value the importance of theatre as a worldly ‘art form’.
Each year, a renowned personality in theatre or a figure of international stature is invited to share his/her views on theatre and international goodwill. This international message, or the World Theatre Day Message, is circulated in all corners of the globe for thousands of audiences, translated into different languages, and published in hundreds of dailies. Collaborators in the audiovisual field extend a friendly hand, with numerous transmission stations like radio and television broadcasting the message to listeners across the world.
What is theatre?
Is it a social institution, a stage to emote, or a place of mere entertainment? It is all these and a multiple other things. Theatre is a sophisticated way of staging written dramas by projecting stories and creating meaning through metaphors and narrations. For a performing artiste, theatre becomes the outlet for channeling one’s creativity and self-expression. Theatre performances are enacted in all societies around the world, which help forge a universal cultural tie and enables one to connect with another and realize what it is to be more humane. For young people, theatre helps to think and read creatively.
Theatre has existed for centuries—from oral storytelling to the ancient Greek theatre to the modern theatre that we know today. The idea of theatre arose from human beings gathering in groups or communities and sensing the necessity to transmit one’s knowledge and experiences to others through storytelling. Great plays such as Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, The Tragedy of Othello by William Shakespeare, King Lear by William Shakespeare, The Trojan Women by Euripides, King Oedipus by Sophocles, and others have gloriously stood the test of time and gained popularity in schools and universities for their cultural, intellectual, and historical importance. In an interview, Maya Angelou said, ‘We write for the same reason that we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans—because we can….We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings…’
Leading theatre personalities have stressed on the need to develop professional theatre groups and workshops on theatre. This will help theatre assimilate the changes occurring in sociopolitical and economic scenarios. Theatre transmits diverse ideas and expressions to bring about changes around us and to initiate harmony, fellow feeling, and humanity in a conflict-driven and hate-prone society, where human values have astonishingly declined.
This year celebrates the 70th anniversary of the International Theatre Institute. To mark the occasion and to emphasize the cross-cultural and worldwide aspect of theatre, the Executive Council has nominated five authors to write a message—one from each of the five UNESCO countries: Africa, Arab, America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.
The ITI centres and the cooperating members are the chief stimulants behind the celebration of World Theatre Day in their country. Theatre and dance institutes, government institutions, performing arts universities, ministries of cultures, and theatre and dance lovers across the world are invited to celebrate the day.
In contemporary society, theatre has been enhanced and, still more, spectators throng to theatres to watch stories come to life on stage and imbibe lessons about friendship, love, betrayal, and forgiveness.
On this special occasion, Niyogi Books wishes a happy World Theatre Day to all theatre professionals and lovers. For those who have fancied to go behind the footlights and bow your thanks before the audience, or have been pleased to remain a spectator, these wonderful books on theatre will transport you into a dramatic world. In The Act of Becoming by Amal Allana, twenty-two distinguished artistes, spanning the period from 1850s to 1990s, talk about their lives and passions, their extensive training, and long-lasting stage careers. Search for a Language of Theatre by Badal Sircar explores the author’s life and theatre from different perspectives through memoirs, essays, interviews, notes, and reviews by directors, putting together his implacable creative journey of more than six decades. Sisir Kumar Bhaduri: Pioneer of Modern Indian Theatre by Amal Mitra includes excerpts of history from nineteenth-century Bengali theatre as well as commentaries of the acclaimed personalities of the modern Bengali stage. Tagore’s Dance-Drama Omnibus, translated and introduced by Utpal K. Banerjee, is a culmination of Tagore’s dance interest in the latter’s most vivid manifestation. Theatrescapes by Shobha Deepak Singh encapsulates the wide gamut of the modern Indian theatre with the author’s art of photography.
The lights fade…
The audience settles…
The curtains go up…
A story comes alive.