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Global Theater Initiative Celebrates 2018 World Theatre Day

Five authors from each of the UNESCO regions share messages for the 56th World Theatre Day.

NEW YORK CITY: Today the  Global Theater Initiative (GTI), a partnership with Theatre Communications Group and the Laboratory for Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, invites all theatres, individual artists, institutions, and audiences to celebrate the 56th annual World Theatre Day.

The organization that initiated World Theatre Day, the International Theatre Institute (ITI), is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. To commemorate the milestone, and to underline the cross-cultural and international aspect of theatre, ITI Worldwide, with the head office located in Shanghai, asked five authors of world stature to write an international World Theatre Day message, one from each of the five UNESCO Regions: Wèrê Wèrê Liking for Africa; Sabina Berman for the Americas; Maya Zbib for Arab countries; Ram Gopal Bajaj for Asia Pacific; and Simon McBurney for Europe.

Heather Raffo.

As the home of the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute, the Global Theatre Initiative is proud to announce the U.S. World Theatre Day message authored by playwright and performer Heather Raffo.

“It’s just incredible to think the practice of theatre supported these brave high school students [in Parkland, Fla.] to speak their truth—but isn’t it more important to ask—how can the theatre support these students now?” said Raffo in her statement. “What role is the theatre playing in making their world a better world? Is the theatre as demanding as they are? As brave?”

Raffo is best known for bridging her Iraqi and American roots with the award-winning play 9 Parts of DesireShe authored the libretto for the opera Fallujah and her newest play, Noura, recently premiered in Washington, D.C., with future productions forthcoming in Abu Dhabi and at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. She has taught and spoken at universities across America and the Middle East. Through her many university collaborations, Raffo created the Places of Pilgrimage narrative workshop, a storytelling process highlighting the tremendous personal accounts entrusted to her by women from the Middle East and her desire to hear them shared with countless others, in their own words.

The statements from the other five authors, and more information about World Theatre Day can be found here.

“Much has changed since the founding of ITI 70 years ago, but the peace-building power of theatre remains as necessary as ever,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG, in a statement. “As we face resurgent nationalism, climate crises, and an erosion of democratic norms here and abroad, these six World Theatre Day Messages remind us of our collective power and responsibility as culture-makers to forge new ways of sharing the Earth.”

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