The 2015 Canadian World Theatre Day message is written by Theatre Alberta member Mieko Ouchi!
The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), l'Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (ATFC), and the Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC), annually commissions a message to promote and celebrate World Theatre Day from a distinctly Canadian perspective.
Created in 1961 by UNESCO, World Theatre Day is celebrated annually on March 27 by theatre communities around the globe. The impetus behind World Theatre Day is to honour and further the goal of UNESCO's International Theatre Institute (ITI) to celebrate the power of theatre as an indispensable bridge-builder for mutual international understanding and peace as well as to promote and protect cultural diversity and identity in communities throughout the world.
“I can see myself in all things and all people around me."
— Sanskrit Phrase
The world we are living in today, is a place in deep flux. One that feels increasingly uncertain and precarious. Power is shifting. Economies are rupturing. We are confronted by unthinkable acts of inhumanity. And while on some fronts concepts of equality are moving forward, in other ways we are increasingly being pushed backward into separate and potentially more extreme corners by forces on many sides. Into perilous ideas of Us and Them. Right and Wrong. Black and White.
Faced with this stark reality, we can find ourselves wondering at the purpose of art. The purpose of theatre. And yet, isn’t this a time when theatre might be needed more than ever?
For we in the theatre understand deeply that no human is one thing alone. Drama shows us again and again that we are made up of many selves and wear many different identities. That we can be, and indeed already are, simultaneously part of multiple groups and communities. This recognition of the complex intersection of who we are is a powerful idea, and one that allows us the empathy and compassion to see ourselves in others.
That is something worth sharing.
In professional theatre spaces, community halls, meeting rooms, school gyms and drama rooms, daycares and seniors centres, outdoor parks, streets and found spaces... indeed any place that even a single performer and a single audience member can gather, theatre can offer a potent and powerful moment of communion and connection for the performers and viewers watching the same human experience acted out before them. That is what theatre does best.
And that is something worth pursuing.
In a time when some are fighting to erect boundaries or guard the ones already in place, we have the opportunity, if we take up the cause, to use art, empowerment and solidarity, as our answer to those who would see the rest of the world live only as they do. To anyone who would stand in the way of a fellow human claiming an equal and respected place at the table. To people who would deny any one of us the opportunity to be who we were born as or who we wish to be. Who we truly are. Freedom of speech and self expression are not things we can ever take for granted.
They are worth standing up for.
But to do these things, to be needed and relevant, it will require us to look inward and confront our own biases and assumptions. To look outward and challenge ourselves to give voice to the width and breadth of all perspectives we need to move forward. The confronting viewpoints we need to push ourselves to ask the most difficult of questions. It will take conscious effort to dissolve old walls and glass ceilings. To welcome everyone in.
But we are not alone in this struggle. Each and every one of us who counts themselves a member of the Theatre family, is also a member of a universal and ancient clan of tricksters and clowns. Of singers and dancers. Of storytellers and artists. Of provocateurs and historians. Traced in a continuous line back to the very beginnings of human existence. Who have always used their voices and bodies, their ideas and stories, to entertain, divert, energize, enlighten, expose, educate, ignite, prod, criticize, provoke and challenge. A group who have used their collective power to bring people together. To change people’s minds. To transform the world.
That is something to be proud of.
Mieko Ouchi plays in Theatre Alberta's Library
Theatre Alberta's Library
is Canada's largest fully-circulating, independent theatre library, with nearly 20,000 titles in our collection. We have very robust selection of plays written by Albertan and Canadian playwrights, so we thought we'd take a peek to see which of Mieko's plays we have available for our members to borrow.
The Blue Light (included in Mieko Ouchi: Two Plays collection) Leni Riefenstahl was one of the most remarkable and controversial women artists of the 20th century. Riefenstahl caught the eye of Adolf Hitler with her film "The Blue Light." Her choice to direct "Triumph of the Will" got her blacklisted as a filmmaker until her death in 2003 at 101. Riefenstahl, 100 years old, is in the office of a young female Hollywood Studio Executive to make a desperate pitch for her first feature film in fifty years. A thought provoking contemplation on art, politics and the seduction of fascism and an examination of a woman who danced one perfect dance with the devil and changed the way films are made.
The Red Priest (Eight Ways to Say Goodbye)
'This bittersweet love story features enchanting music, a mysterious countess, Antonio Vivaldi, and a violin. The Red Priest is a poignant variation on the themes of love and freedom by one of Alberta's most exceptional playwrights.'
The Tofu Wars (included in Sprouts! anthology) Based on Ouchi's memories of the stories her beloved grandmother Betty "Yoko" Ouchi told her when she was a child, about growing up in the vibrant Japanese Canadian community on Powell Street before WWII.
Want to read more plays by Alberta and Canadian playwrights? Our online Library Indexes are a great way to browse through our collection of plays. Check out the different categories of Canadian plays in our collection:
William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream abounds with thrilling challenges and opportunities for young thespians. Paired together, Artstrek and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are the quintessential summer fling... very possibly the #bestmidsummernightever.
Artstrek 2015 will be held at Red Deer College during the following dates:
In the meantime, take a few minutes to share some Artstrek memories by watching our Memories from Artstrek 2014 video, featuring teachers, supers and students from last summer's program. Click here to watch!
Picks of the Edmonton Fringe
The Bomb-itty of Errors - presented by Edmonton Actors Theatre and the final production of the 2014/2015 Picks of the Edmonton Fringe tour lineup - is set to begin its tour on April 2nd, visiting six rural and smaller communities across Alberta. This is a three-year project, however, so we created a video to preview the companies that will hit the road in 2015/2016. Click here to watch the video on YouTube.
The Picks of the Edmonton Fringe is an affordable way to bring Alberta-made professional theatre to your community. We are thrilled with how the project has impacted communities already - we can't wait to send even more fantastic theatre, hand selected from the largest Fringe Festival on the continent, to Albertan communities.
Visit theatrealberta.com/tour for more information or contact Aaron at [email protected] or 1-888-422-8162 to inquire about having a production tour to your community. The Picks of the Edmonton Fringe tour stimulus project is a joint presentation of Theatre Alberta, the Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta (ATAA) and Fringe Theatre Adventures (FTA). The first year of this project has been supported by a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA).
Upgrades to Theatre Alberta's Online Playbill
Just in time for World Theatre Day, Theatre Alberta has upgraded its online Playbill service! Nearly every production playing in Alberta for the 2014/2015 theatre season is listed in our online, searchable database. We have added some new features to make this unique service even better:
Users may now select either a month or a single day to see what's playing in Alberta. The online Playbill automatically filters out "dark days" (i.e. days during the run of a production that the theatre is closed).
Does the titile of the play intrigue you? Find out more about a play by clicking the "See More" link at the bottom of the listing. The listing will expand with a short play description, provided by the company.
If your theatre company has a listing without a description in it, please email Aaron a short blurb about your show at [email protected]
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