Philippines: Theater, a tool for international understanding


An article from the Manila Buletin

World Theater Day, instituted by the International Theater Institute (ITI) on March 27, 1962, to mark the opening of the Theater of Nations in Paris, France, has since been annually celebrated on March 27 to focus on the importance of theater as a diverse and complex art form that taps the creative work of the playwright, director, actors, artists, and composers. In musical theater, acting is combined with music, song, and dance.2

ITI, the world’s largest organization for the performing arts established in 1948 by UNESCO during the first world congress in Prague, Czech Republic, has a network of 100 national centers worldwide, including the Philippines, that promotes international exchange of knowledge and practice in theater arts, aiming to consolidate peace and friendship among peoples, deepen mutual understanding, and increase creative cooperation among people in the theater arts. An ITI center is made up of professionals active in the theater life of a country and representative of all branches of the performing arts.

The Philippines celebrates UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week every year on March 21-27, pursuant to Proclamation 1262 in 2007. The National Commission for Culture and Arts leads the weeklong celebration, in coordination with ITI-affiliated Philippine Center of the International Theater Institute. Events in Metro Manila and in the regions include the presentation of short plays, dance troupe performances, puppet shows, art exhibits and singing. NCCA encourages artists and culture enthusiasts to partner with the government towards the full flowering of theater arts among Filipinos.

On World Theater Day, events are held by theater communities all over the world, the most important of which is spreading an international message by a renowned personality on the theme of theater and a culture of peace. The first international message was written by French poet-novelist Jean Cocteau in 1962. For 2017, French theater and cinema actress Isabelle Huppert will deliver the World Theater Day message at a special show at the UNESCO in Paris.

Each year, the message is translated into more than 20 languages, read for tens of thousands of spectators before performances in theaters worldwide, released throughout the ITI network, and printed in newspapers.

(For an article on World Theater Day in Mexico, click here)

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