World Theatre Day 2009: going viral

World Theatre Day isn’t about creating a global theatre experience. It’s about celebrating the local theatre experience globally. World Theatre Day is an acknowledgement that we are all doing this thing that we love. And the internet allows us to share those local celebrations and revel in the fact that we’re not alone in our pursuit, and that no matter how many times they try to prove it to us mathematically, theatre is not dead. Travis Bedard

Never heard of World Theatre Day? Hardly surprising really. What has been called a global celebration of the power of theatre on one day each year – this year March 27 – has been far quieter than it should have been for too long. WTD is an activity of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), which was founded in 1948 by UNESCO.  The ITI website has only just this week undergone a long overdue revamp.

Each year the ITI commissions a leading world theatre figure to write a special address. Last year it was Canadian Robert Lepage.  This year it’s Brazilian Augusto Boal‘s turn; here’s Boal’s timely WTD address to the theatre community.

The WTD tradition goes like this: companies choosing to celebrate read the address at the start of a performance that day. But it doesn’t stop there. Companies or individuals were encouraged to celebrate in any way they like. WTD celebrations tended to be locally focussed – no bad thing of course – but they remained pretty much unknown outside their immediate location.  Enter a group of international theatre individuals already in touch on an almost daily basis, and keen to put the ‘world’ back in WTD. Given the availability of Web 2.0 tools and applications, the WTD 09 facilitators are using the power of online communication and the occasion of WTD09 to bring the global theatre community closer together.

Follow the progress so far on the WTD 09 blog where you will get an idea of what companies world-wide are planning in their own backyards, and how they intend to get out the news to others. Get involved and let us know what you’re planning either here or directly at the WTD09 blogsite. I’m one of the facilitators working locally so more of the world theatre community can engage globally.

In the meantime, start thinking over what you or your company might do. Of course you are busy and resources are probably stretched, so keep it simple, and share with the rest of the world. What about short videos, still images, audio files of interviews, various kinds of audience-engagement activities like backstage tours. What is your group presenting on March 27?  Do you have a website? What about a blogpost on WTD09 and you. If you feel up to the challenge, why not a flashmob? Go on, you know you want to!

If you’re on Twitter, keep up by joining the Theatre Group then tag appropriate posts with #WTD09 or #wtd, and of course, with #theatre. If you’re not already a Twitter member come along and join the fun. There are many theatre companies already sharing their activities quite independently of WTD.

If you write a blog post about your engagement with World Theatre Day it would be great if you could tag your blogposts WTD09 or just wtd … so we can find you and gather in the good stuff.

Plan it, share it, and pass it on … let’s get the world involved on World Theatre Day 2009. That’s March 27 at a theatre near you.

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