The lights dim and the audience settles. As the curtain rises, months of preparation comes to fruition, and a story comes to life. World Theater Day celebrates the importance of theater arts as it continues to move, entertain, teach and change us.
World Theatre Day was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute ITI. It is celebrated annually on the 27th March by ITI Centres and the international theatre community. Various national and international theatre events are organized to mark this occasion. One of the most important of these is the circulation of the World Theatre Day Message through which at the invitation of ITI, a figure of world stature shares his or her reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace. The first World Theatre Day Message was written by Jean Cocteau in 1962.
Ever since, each year on the 27th March (date of the opening of the 1962 “Theatre of Nations” season in Paris), World Theatre Day has been celebrated in many and varied ways by ITI Centres – of which there are now more than 90 throughout the world. Moreover theatres, theatre professionals, theatre lovers, theatre universities, academies and schools celebrate it as well.
Each year an outstanding figure in theatre or a person outstanding in heart and spirit from another field is invited to share his or her reflections on theatre and international harmony. What is known as the International Message is translated into more than 50 languages, read for tens of thousands of spectators before performances in theatres throughout the world, and printed in hundreds of daily newspapers. Colleagues in the audio-visual field lend a fraternal hand, with more than a hundred radio and television stations transmitting the Message to listeners in all corners of the five continents.
In India the performing arts industry reached Rs23,600 crore in 2012 and is expected to grow at 2.5% annually to reach Rs27,500 crore in 2018, according to a report by the industry lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Within the report’s vast assemblage of art forms including theatre, concerts, opera, dance and other stage productions and even the circus, theatre lies tucked away, its numbers and statistics less clear.
Indian Veteran actor and director Naseeruddin Shah says , In a digital age where the world is shrinking into a mobile screen, “theatre has to return to storytelling. It has to become more intimate and immediate and a means of contact between people.” The need for intimate theatre is leading to the proliferation of experimental performance venues, and a chance to move beyond big budget proscenium entertainment.