To every devoted thespian across the globe, Happy Holiday!
Today is your day – World Theatre Day!

Created in 1961, the International Theatre Institute (ITI) sponsors World Theatre Day every year on March 27th. The ITI is the largest organization in the world for Performing Arts. It was inaugurated in 1948 during the first World Congress in Prague. The ITI is a formal NGO in association with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The International Theatre Institute strives to promote the exchange of theatre knowledge and practices, to stimulate the creation and cooperation of theatre artists, to increase the public awareness of artistic creation as a widespread need, to use art as a means to promote peace between peoples, to defend the ideals and aims of UNESCO and to combat racism and social and political discrimination. As part of their endeavors, the ITI created World Theatre Day, which is celebrated on March 27th because it also marked the opening of the Theatre of Nations in Paris in 1962. 

The goals of World Theatre Day, ascribed by the ITI, are:

-to promote the art form – dance or theatre – to the world
-to make people aware of the value of the art form

-to enable the theatre or dance community to promote their work on a broad scale, so that opinion leaders in the -government and the political sphere are aware of the value of the art form and support it.

-to enjoy the art form around the world

-to share joy with others


World Theatre Day is commemorated globally through various national and international theatre events. The day is also marked by the circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message which is delivered by an invited speaker – “a figure of world stature [who] shares his or her reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace.” The very first message was delivered by Jean Cocteau – the French poet, writer, artist and film maker. From its inception the World Theatre Day International Message has been widely translated and distributed each year. Every year, the message is printed in daily newspapers and read around the world as a preface to performances on World Theatre Day. Past speakers have included Arthur Miller, Robert Lepage, Vaclav Havel, Dame Judi Dench, Augusto Boal, and John Malkovich.

The 2013 message will be delivered by Italian playwright, Dario Fo. Fo was born in 1926 and has spent his life making theatre that explores and criticizes organized crime, political corruption, political assassination, the doctrine of the Catholic Church, and the conflict in the Middle East. Fo’s career has shown the juxtaposed importance of tradition and evolution. His work relies heavily on the basis of commedia dell’arte – a traditional Italian theatrical form that was popular among the working classes. He combines the tropes of commedia with his “unofficial leftism” to create stories meant to inspire social change. Fo has written close to 70 plays, including We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay! and About Face, which have been translated into 30 different languages. His works have been adapted across the globe to reflect the local political and social problems. In 1997 Fo was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The committee deemed him a writer “who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”

This year’s message is particularly special because the ITI is offering videos of the message taped by ITI Centres around the globe. Each center invited a prominent theatre figure from their country to read the 2013 message in their native language. These readings are available on YouTube, Facebook and on the ITI website. By reading the message in such a variety of languages and regions – thespians around the globe are being honored for their cultural differences and, simultaneously, unified by their support of theatrical arts.

Read Dario Fo’s message for World Theatre Day 2013 below:
A long time ago, Power resolved the intolerance against Commedia dell’Arte actors by chasing them out of the country.
Today, actors and theatre companies have difficulties finding public stages, theatres and spectators, all because of the crisis. Rulers are, therefore, no longer concerned with problems of control over those who express themselves with irony and sarcasm, since there is no place for actors, nor is there a public to address. On the contrary, during the Renaissance, in Italy those in power had to make a significant effort in order to hold the Commedianti at bay, since these enjoyed a large audience.

It is known that the great exodus of Commedia dell’Arte players happened in the century of the counter-Reformation, which decreed the dismantling of all theatre spaces, especially in Rome, where they were accused of offending the holy city. In 1697, Pope Innocent XII, under the pressure of insistent requests from the more conservative side of the bourgeoisie and of the major exponents of the clergy, ordered the demolition of Tordinona Theatre which, according to the moralists, had staged the greatest number of obscene displays.

At the time of the counter-Reformation, cardinal Carlo Borromeo, who was active in the North of Italy, had committed himself to the redemption of the “children of Milan”, establishing a clear distinction between art, as the highest form of spiritual education, and theatre, the manifestation of profanity and of vanity. In a letter addressed to his collaborators, which I quote off the cuff, he expresses himself more or less as follows: “Concerned with eradicating the evil weed, we have done our utmost to burn texts containing infamous speeches, to eradicate them from the memory of men, and at the same time to prosecute also those who divulged such texts in print. Evidently, however, while we were asleep, the devil labored with renewed cunning. How far more penetrating to the soul is what the eyes can see, than what can be read off such books! How far more devastating to the minds of adolescents and young girls is the spoken word and the appropriate gesture, than a dead word printed in books. It is therefore urgent to rid our cities of theatre makers, as we do with unwanted souls.”

Thus the only solution to the crisis lies in the hope that a great expulsion is organized against us and especially against young people who wish to learn the art of theatre: a new diaspora of Commedianti, of theatre makers, who would, from such an imposition, doubtlessly draw unimaginable benefits for the sake of a new representation.

-Dario Fo, Translation by Victor Jacono, ITI Italy and Fabiana Piccioli

If you are interested in attending an event in honor of World Theatre Day, check out some of these:

The World Theatre Day Panel Discussion
At the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois
“Patrizia Acerra, Artistic Director of the International Voices Project; Bergen Anderson, Managing Artistic Director of Akvavit Theatre; Beata Pilch, Artistic Director of Trap Door; and Jacqueline Stone, Artistic Director of TUTA will discuss the unique opportunities and challenges faced in sourcing, producing and performing international work. From building relationships with artists, to translating new work, to planning an international tour, they will speak as to why exploring these works, cultures, and traditions are important to them and the greater Chicago community. Moderated by Kris Vire, Theater Editor, Time Out Chicago.”
RSVP by emailing .

Around-The-Globe Chain Play
At The Lark Play Development Center in New York City
At 7pm The Lark Play Development Center will present a reading of a new play that started in New York City and traveled around the world, stopping with 16 different playwrights from all the corners of the globe, before making its way back to New York City. The reading will be followed by a reception where the International Theatre Institute’s World Message by Dario Fo will be read. The reading will be directed by Doug Howe. This year’s playwrights included on the Chain Play project are: Dominique Morisseau (USA), Bekah Brunstetter (USA), Van Badham (Australia), Mixkaela Villalon (Philippines), Janice Poon (Hong Kong), Abdelrahem Alawji (Lebanon), Jeton Neziraj (Kosovo), John Freedman (Russia), Ulrike Syha (Germany), Enver Husicic (Netherlands), Zainabu Jallo (Nigeria), Beatriz Cabur (Spain), Sarah Grochala (UK), Sigtryggur Magnason (Iceland), Noé Morales Muñoz (Mexico) and Caridad Svich (USA). Tickets are free.
Make reservations at

At Endstation Theatre in Sweet Briar, Virginia
Commissioned by Endstation, Sweet Briar College and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, IN SWEET REMEMBRANCE is a tribute to the significant role of the black community throughout the College’s history. Chisholm, who lives in Washington, D.C., has spent the past four summers researching Sweet Briar’s cultural and historical importance, resulting in an original play that, according to Endstation, “explores the landscape of its past, discovers the contours of its present and realizes its future.”

Free Reading of 140 Word Plays from the US and UK
Mind the Gap Theatre in New York City
Mind The Gap Theatre will present a free reading of a selection of plays by writers from the US and UK written in 140 words at The Network, 242 West 36th St, 3rd Floor, NYC, Wednesday, March 27th at 3:30pm. This event is free and open to the public. As always, tea and biscuits will be served. Seating for this event is EXTREMELY LIMITED.
RSVP via email at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email