TAPA wishes all our members, partners and stakeholders HAPPY WORLD THEATRE DAY!
Since 2011, PACT, together with l’Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (ATFC) and the Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC), has commissioned a message each year to promote and celebrate World Theatre Day from a distinctly Canadian perspective. We are happy to share the message with you this year and forward onto you both the Canadian and International messages.
The 2017 Canadian World Theatre Day message was written by Gilles Poulin-Denis, translated into English by Mishka Lavigne. The original French version can be found on the ATFC website, and the English translation is below.
2017 Canadian World Theatre Day Message
Like philosophy, theatre is a conversation that crosses the boundaries of time: the works created today are in dialogue with the works created in the past, looking to either carry on or break tradition.
So where does this conversation stand today?
For a number of years, theatre has been pushing out of its conventional frame. It’s giving itself permission to borrow from other forms of art like cinema, dance, performance, visual arts. It even exists outside the confines of the theatre walls: in the streets during in situ performances, in our earphones during audio plays and even within our computers and our smart phones. If stories can cross time, from Sophocles to Shakespeare to Jordan Tannahill, the way to tell them is ever changing: forms are limitless and processes are in constant evolution. This is what makes theatre an art that is truly alive, that is continually reinventing itself and offering a reflection on its time and its society.
Moreover, let’s eradicate this sentence, heard time and time again in theatre lobbies and printed too often in reviews, from our discussions: “this isn’t theatre”. Saying this sentence effectively shuts down any desire for dialogue and brings the century-old conversation about our practice to a definite close. Those who utter this sentence can take refuge in archives, in their nostalgia and in their complacency. By endeavouring to define this art too much and to freeze it in time, they will succeed in making theatre an art of museums.
We, artists, artisans, need to continue to push back limits and explore new forms. Let’s keep this curiosity that drives us to meet the unknown, to take risks in creation, to make no concession with our work. Let’s cultivate this daring with what we create but also with the choice of programming we curate and the choice of artists we support.
However, at a time when certain theatres are fighting to fill their seats, we have the responsibility to ask ourselves where is the audience? Has it abandoned the theatre? And if this is the case; why? We never hear “I don’t like cinema. One time, I saw a movie, it was bad. I won’t ever go back”. If the theatre suffers from these prejudices, while most other disciplines are safe from them, it’s precisely because, for these individuals who gave up on the stage, the conversation about theatre has stopped. It is precisely because this conversation has been frozen in time. Theatre only gives them the image of a dusty art form where we don old costumes and speak in rhymes. But maybe it’s simply because this audience hasn’t found their theatre.
So what can theatre offer in 2017? No one knows exactly. But one thing is certain, no matter what form the theatre we attend takes, there will inevitably be a constant. It’s this precise moment – whether we’re sitting in a centuries old theatre with gilded gold ceilings, in a crappy black box theatre, in the middle of the street, or alone in front of a screen – this instant when our full attention is devoted to the stage and we know that what is happening in front of our eyes is ephemeral, that we are seeing an event in the here and now. This little moment is frozen in time, it is filled with promises and for this little moment, the theatre remains an exceptional place.
You can also view a video of Gilles Poulin-Denis reading the text in French by clicking here!
Furthermore, this year’s Franco-Ontarian message, written by Claude Guilmain, General Manager of Théâtre la Tangente (Toronto), is available on Théâtre Action’s website.
You can read the International Theatre Day message written by Isabelle Huppert the theatre and cinema actress from France here.
Happy World Theatre Day to all!
About World Theatre Day
Created in 1961 by UNESCO, World Theatre Day is celebrated annually on March 27 by theatre communities around the globe. The impetus behind World Theatre Day is to honour and further the goal of UNESCO’s International Theatre Institute (ITI) to celebrate the power of theatre as an indispensable bridge-builder for mutual international understanding and peace as well as to promote and protect cultural diversity and identity in communities throughout the world.