ASSITEJ WORLD DAY FOR THEATRE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE 2015
I’m one of the lucky ones. And if you’re reading this message you’re probably one of the lucky ones too…
From my earliest years I remember my parents taking me to the theatre; since they were not very discriminate, I saw everything, from children’s theatre to musicals, ballets, pantomimes and serious plays. One particular experience stands out. I was taken on an interactive theatrical experience, where the audience and the actors went on a literal and figurative journey together. The production took place on a farm in a beautiful valley, and still to this day I can recall the barely-contained excitement I felt as we tramped down the dusty farm road on our search at the start of the play. I was fully part of the action – and as we experienced various dangers along the way, I was swept along by the narrative, in which we were all playing a vital part. Each time we were further delayed in our mission by the need to help various characters who fell across our path, I was taken in by their stories and deeply empathetic of their suffering. And when we were finally disappointed in our search, I was devastated. But then of course, there was a final moment of pure theatrical catharsis, which left us all feeling buoyed with hope and excitement.
This experience made a profound impression on me because of the powerful totality of the theatrical experience it offered. What I understood so clearly then, at the age of six, was that theatre was something which was profoundly transformative, deeply communal, and in which we all made meaning together.
Since then I have been lucky enough to enjoy many theatre experiences in different parts of the globe. Some of these experiences were forgettable, but others were deeply impactful. And always I find myself searching for that moment of alchemy, where reality is transformed, where as a community – the audience – we are simultaneously opened up to the experience, and feel empowered to make meaning of what we are seeing, with those around us. And sometimes, I am lucky enough to find it…
Not every child is as lucky.
This year ASSITEJ celebrates our 50th anniversary. In this half-century of our existence we have come a long way, reaching new continents and countries, bridging linguistic, social, economic, religious, political and personal borders, to ensure that more children in more places may be as lucky…
We still have a long way to go. In the last 50 years, many things have improved for children the world over, but there are still so many, many challenges. As artists who appreciate the transformative power of the arts, through the work of ASSITEJ, we are able to make a difference and to ensure that more children may have these moments of powerful empathy and connection, which will never leave them.
So join us in celebrating this very special 50th anniversary through our “Take a child to the theatre today” campaign – ensuring that more and more children have the opportunity to experience the profound awakening caused by a powerful encounter with theatre.
For in the end, it should not be a question of luck… The power is in our hands.