Today is #WorldTheatreDay 2019. How will you be celebrating?

 

World Theatre Day logo
World Theatre Day logo

Today is World Theatre Day. Created in 1961,it  is celebrated annually on March 27. How will you be celebrating?

Below, ten facts about theater, and this year’s World Theatre Day message in both English and the original Spanish, by Carlos Celdrán, stage director, playwright,  and theatre educator, living  in Havana, Cuba, and presenting his work all over the world.

Marble disk with two theater masks in relief, 3rd quarter of 1st century A.D.
Roman, Early Imperial
Marble; Diam.: 13 1/16 x 3 3/8 in. (33.2 x 8.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1913 (13.229.6)
http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/248802

Top 10 facts about theater,

via the Daily Express 

1. Theatre as we know it began in ancient Greece with a religious ceremony called ‘dithyramb’ in which a chorus of men dressed in goat skins.

2. The word ‘tragedy’ comes from a Greek expression meaning ‘goat song’…

3. …and ‘theatre’ comes from a Greek verb meaning ‘to behold’.

4. Ancient Greek audiences stamped their feet rather than clapping their hands to applaud.

5. World Theatre Day has been held on March 27 every year since 1962 when it was the opening day of the “Theatre of Nations” season in Paris.

6. The longest continuous dramatic performance was 23 hr 33 min 54 sec achieved by the 27 O’Clock Players in New Jersey, USA, on July 27, 2010.

7. They performed The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionescu, a play written in a continuous loop and said to be totally pointless and plotless.

8. According to Aristotle, the plot is the most important feature of a dramatic performance.

9. Walt Disney World, Florida, has a record 1.2 million costumes in its theatrical wardrobes.

10. The oldest play still in existence is The Persians by Aeschylus, written in 472 BC.

Carlos CELDRÁN, Cuba – Journeying Toward The Instant…Toward Their Heart

Before my awakening to the theatre, my teachers were already there. They had built their
houses and their poetic approach on the remains of their own lives. Many of them are
unknown, or are scarcely remembered: they worked from silence, in the humility of their
rehearsal rooms and in their spectator-packed theatres and, slowly, after years of work and
extraordinary achievement, they gradually slid away from these places and disappeared. When I
understood that my personal destiny would be to follow their steps, I also understood that I
had inherited that gripping, unique tradition of living in the present without any expectation
other than achieving the transparency of an unrepeatable moment; a moment of encounter
with another in the darkness of a theatre, with no further protection than the truth of a
gesture, a revealing word.
My theatrical homeland lies in those moments of meeting the spectators who arrive at our
theatre night after night, from the most varied corners of my city, to accompany us and share
some hours, a few minutes. My life is built up from those unique moments when I cease to be
myself, to suffer for myself, and I am reborn and understand the meaning of the theatrical
profession: to live instants of pure ephemeral truth, where we know that what we say and do,
there under the stage lights, is true and reflects the most profound, most personal, part of
ourselves. My theatrical country, mine and that of my actors, is a country woven from such
moments, where we leave behind the masks, the rhetoric, the fear of being who we are, and we
join hands in the dark.

Theatrical tradition is horizontal. There is nobody who may affirm that theatre exists at any
centre in the world, in any city or privileged building. Theatre, as I have received it, spreads
through an invisible geography that blends the lives of those who perform it and the theatrical
craft in a single unifying gesture. All masters of theatre die with their moments of unrepeatable
lucidity and beauty; they all fade in the same way, without any other transcendence to protect
them and make them illustrious. Theatrical teachers know this, no recognition is valid when
faced with that certainty which is the root of our work: creating moments of truth, of
ambiguity, of strength, of freedom in the midst of great precariousness. Nothing survives
except data or records of their work in videos and photos that will only capture a pale idea of
what they did. However, what will always be missing from those records is the silent response
by the public who understands in an instant that what takes place cannot be translated or
found outside, that the truth shared there is an experience of life, for a few seconds, even more
diaphanous than life itself.
When I understood that the theatre was a country in itself, a major territory that covers the
whole world, a determination arose within me, which was also the realisation of a freedom: you
do not have to go far away, or move from where you are, you do not have to run or move
yourself. The public is wherever you exist. You have the colleagues you need at your side.
There, outside your house, you have all the opaque, impenetrable daily reality. You then work
from that apparent immobility to design the greatest journey of all, to repeat the Odyssey, the
Argonauts’s journey: you are an immobile traveller who does not cease to accelerate the
density and rigidity of your real world. Your journey is toward the instant, to the moment,
toward the unrepeatable encounter before your peers. Your journey is toward them, toward
their heart, toward their subjectiveness. You travel within them, in their emotions, their
memories that you awake and mobilise. Your journey is vertiginous, and nobody may measure
or silence it. Nor may anybody recognise it to the right extent, it is a journey through the
imagination of your people, a seed that is sown in the most remote of lands: the civic, ethical
and human conscience of your spectators. Due to this, I do not move, I remain at home,
among my closest, in apparent stillness, working day and night, because I have the secret of
speed.
Translation from Spanish by Luis Llerena Diaz

In the original Spanish:

Antes de mi despertar en el teatro, mis maestros ya estaban allí. Habían construido sus casas y
sus poéticas sobre los restos de sus propias vidas. Muchos de ellos no son conocidos o apenas
se les recuerda: trabajaron desde el silencio, desde la humildad de sus salones de ensayo y de
sus salas llenas de espectadores y, lentamente, tras años de trabajo y logros extraordinarios,
fueron dejando su sitio y desparecieron. Cuando entendí que mi oficio y mi destino personal
sería seguir sus pasos, entendí también que heredaba de ellos esa tradición desgarradora y única
de vivir el presente sin otra expectativa que alcanzar la transparencia de un momento
irrepetible. Un momento de encuentro con el otro en la oscuridad de un teatro, sin más
protección que la verdad de un gesto, de una palabra reveladora.
Mi país teatral son esos momentos de encuentro con los espectadores que llegan noche a
noche a nuestra sala, desde los rincones más disímiles de mi ciudad, para acompañarnos y
compartir unas horas, unos minutos. Con esos momentos únicos construyo mi vida, dejo de
ser yo, de sufrir por mí mismo y renazco y entiendo el significado del oficio de hacer teatro:
vivir instantes de pura verdad efímera, donde sabemos que lo que decimos y hacemos, allí, bajo
la luz de la escena, es cierto y refleja lo más profundo y lo más personal de nosotros. Mi país
teatral, el mío y el de mis actores, es un país tejido por esos momentos donde dejamos atrás las
máscaras, la retórica, el miedo a ser quienes somos, y nos damos las manos en la oscuridad.
La tradición del teatro es horizontal. No hay quien pueda afirmar que el teatro está en algún
centro del mundo, en alguna ciudad o edificio privilegiado. El teatro, como yo lo he recibido,
se extiende por una geografía invisible que mezcla las vidas de quienes lo hacen y la artesanía
teatral en un mismo gesto unificador. Todos los maestros de teatro mueren con sus momentos
de lucidez y de belleza irrepetibles, todos desaparecen del mismo modo sin dejar otra
trascendencia que los ampare y los haga ilustres. Los maestros de teatro lo saben, no vale
ningún reconocimiento ante esta certeza que es la raíz de nuestro trabajo: crear momentos de
verdad, de ambigüedad, de fuerza, de libertad en la mayor de las precariedades. No
sobrevivirán de ellos sino datos o registros de sus trabajos en videos y fotos que recogerán solo
una pálida idea de lo que hicieron. Pero siempre faltará en esos registros la respuesta silenciosa
del público que entiende en un instante que lo que allí pasa no puede ser traducido ni
encontrado fuera, que la verdad que allí comparte es una experiencia de vida, por segundos
más diáfana que la vida misma.
Cuando entendí que el teatro era un país en sí mismo, un gran territorio que abarca el mundo
entero, nació en mí una decisión que también es una libertad: no tienes que alejarte ni moverte
de donde te encuentras, no tienes que correr ni desplazarte. Allí donde existes está el público.
Allí están los compañeros que necesitas a tu lado. Allá, fuera de tu casa, tienes toda la realidad
diaria, opaca e impenetrable. Trabajas entonces desde esa inmovilidad aparente para construir
el mayor de los viajes, para repetir la Odisea, el viaje de los argonautas: eres un viajero inmóvil
que no para de acelerar la densidad y la rigidez de tu mundo real. Tu viaje es hacia el instante,
hacia el momento, hacia el encuentro irrepetible frente a tus semejantes. Tu viaje es hacia ellos,
hacia su corazón, hacia su subjetividad. Viajas por dentro de ellos, de sus emociones, de sus
recuerdos que despiertas y movilizas. Tu viaje es vertiginoso y nadie puede medirlo ni callarlo.
Tampoco nadie lo podrá reconocer en su justa medida, es un viaje a través del imaginario de tu
gente, una semilla que se siembra en la más remota de las tierras: la conciencia cívica, ética y
humana de tus espectadores. Por ello, no me muevo, continúo en mi casa, entre mis allegados,
en aparente quietud, trabajando día y noche, porque tengo el secreto de la velocidad.

Author: New York Theaterh

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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