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Dating back a few thousand years, theatre is a unique and interesting part of culture that has certainly evolved over time. The word “theatre” gets its roots from an ancient Greek word that means “a place for seeing”, and that definition continues to be meaningful today. Even after so many centuries, theatre continues to be used as a way to not only tell stories and see things, but to make an impact on culture and society at large.

Whether writing and directing, producing and acting, creating beautiful costumes or doing lighting and scene design, theatre is a medium of art that requires a wide range of talented artists involved in a variety of ways. And World Theatre Day is here to show appreciation for those who give their time and talent to make the show go on.

History of World Theatre Day

World Theatre Day was initiated in 1962 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI) as a day to pay respect to and celebrate the beauty, creativity, hard work and artistry that goes into all of the aspects of theatre production. And it was meant to remind people about the great power that theatre can bring about, whether it is celebrated locally or globally.

Today, the World Theatre Day continues to be sponsored by ITI, which is the World Organization for Performing Arts, and the day also under the patronage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

In 2022, World Theatre Day celebrated its 60th anniversary with a worldwide online celebration. The Opera, Theatre and Festival Director, Peter Sellers, was the host of the event and offered the annual message. In addition, the celebration included a platform for theatrical expression that offered performances from 37 different emerging artists that hailed from countries all over the globe. These performances were recorded and broadcast on the ITI website so that they could be viewed from anywhere in the world.

World Theatre Day continues to be an important time to celebrate each year for those who support and love the theatre. Patrons of local theatre, costume designers, musicians, script-writers, set designers, actors and so many others will take delight in raising awareness for the observance of this day that is so vital to the arts.

World Theatre Day Timeline

1000 BC

Ancient Greek theatre begins 

Plays for entertainment and education are based on ancient myths or legends.[1]

1599

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre opens 

After the lease on their previous theatre wasn’t renewed, the Shakespeare company builds and opens their own theatre in London.[2]

1600s

Kabuki Theatre begins in Japan 

This form of Japanese dance-drama becomes known for its heavily stylized performances.[3]

1735

First theatre opens on Broadway 

Theatrical activity begins on New York City’s famous Broadway.[4]

1962

First World Theatre Day is celebrated 

Founded by the International Theatre Institute (ITI), the first World Theatre Day is observed by the international theatre community.[5]

How to Celebrate World Theatre Day

Have tons of fun enjoying World Theatre Day with a delightful variety of ways to celebrate. Get started with some of these ideas:

Visit a Local Theatre

World Theatre Day brings with it an amazing opportunity to enjoy and celebrate by catching a show – or even a couple of shows! Whether the show takes place on the day or sometime near it on the calendar, a perfect way to celebrate would be to book tickets for an onstage performance. No matter if it is a comedy, tragedy, musical, drama or even an opera, viewing a theatre performance live and in-person is the best way to pay homage to this amazing form of art.

Supporting the arts locally is a great way to celebrate and raise awareness for the day. It might be a play put on by an elementary school or high school, or it might be a community theatre. Even better than showing support by buying tickets to just one show, go ahead and enjoy the fun of season tickets for the whole family!

Get Involved with a Local Theatre

The need for talented people to volunteer is a vital part of putting on local community theatre shows. Those who are performers may be interested in trying out for a lead role or just a supporting part. Musicians might want to try out to be part of the orchestra or band ensemble for musical performances. Graphic designers might even be needed to design marketing items.

And those who don’t feel artistic in those ways don’t need to be left out! Administrative folks can work with the advertising crew or ticket sales team to make sure the box office runs as smoothly as possible. Everyone is needed to pull off a great show, and World Theatre Day is just the time to get involved.

Catch the World Theatre Day Message

Each year, it is tradition for the International Theatre Institute to provide a message that brings greetings and encouragement for those who are involved with, or simply appreciate, the theatre in its various forms. The theme promoted for World Theatre Day is the same each year: Theatre and a Culture of Peace.

These messages are typically translated into a variety of languages so that people from countries and cultures all over the globe can hear, understand and enjoy. Today, it is easier than ever to get access to these annual messages because they are recorded and placed online at the World Theatre Day website.

Raise Awareness About World Theatre Day

One important part of keeping theatre alive is by sharing with friends and family members about the importance of theatre in the world today. Learn some factors about why live theatre is so important in the digital age, and then perhaps share them to start a conversation with others.

Perhaps some of these ideas would be good for starting an encouraging conversation about theatre in honor of World Theatre Day:

  • Live theatre helps promote social dialogue, discourse and possibly social change. Theatre can be used to identify and address problems, listen to opposing points of view and create opportunities for self-examination.
  • Theatre promotes literacy and education. Students who are involved in the theatre have been shown in studies to have better academic performance at school.
  • Live theatre creates community. Reminding people that they are not alone, theatre builds opportunity for people in groups and communities to collaborate and enjoy shared experiences with others. It’s a way to promote human connection not only with the cast, but also with a live audience.
  • Theatre helps to open minds. Offering unique and different perspectives on a vast array of topics, theatre brings people the opportunity to see the world from a different point of view with new and diverse voices.

World Theatre Day FAQs

Can theatre change the world?

For centuries, theatre has been a part of cultural and social change, raising awareness and inspiring people to take action.[1]

Can theatre help with anxiety?

One study shows that some teens who struggle with social anxiety have found improvisational theatre to be helpful.[2]

When did theatre start in Greece?

Theatre in Ancient Greece started around 1000 BC.[3]

Is theatre a sport?

Although it is not necessarily athletic, some people consider theatre to have the attributes of a team sport.[4]

Are theatres cold?

Many theatres are air conditioned and can be cold, so it’s good to dress in layers.

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