Sunday March 27th is World Theatre Day and during this difficult time for Europe, it’s good to be reminded that theatre in all its forms finds expression across the world. Theatre buildings stand as reminders of the importance of the arts in people’s lives and no amount of bombing them and flattening buildings can take away that need for us all to express feelings and entertain through theatre.
I am proud to belong to a worldwide organisation that helps to make all this happen. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but it’s called the International Amateur Theatretrain Association. Founded in 1952, it is found in every continent in the world. Some countries have government funding to create international events and festivals. While others, like us in Great Britain, are run by keen amateurs who believe in what they are doing and want to contribute something.
For the next four years our World President is a Welshman – the hardworking Aled Rhys-Jones, while the world secretariat is organised by Anne Gilmour from her home in London. So, as a country we are well represented at the top table.
It’s a fascinating organisation because you get to meet people all over the world who share your love for theatre. The slogan is “Education and Understanding through Theatre” and to make that happen there are annual festivals, courses, and events that people can attend. During the pandemic a lot of this continued on-line. Europe mounted a “Theatre is my Love” sharing of work.
Countries come together for an assembly every two years, usually alongside a festival. Every 4th year the assembly returns to Monaco – partly because Princess Grace saw the value of amateur theatre in people’s lives and wanted to support it. It is lovely to enter a large conference room, get kitted up with headphones for translation and see mini flags of the world at the tables of the different representatives. It’s good to know that there are issues and events that can bring the countries of the world together.
I have travelled to Moscow many times and met the Russian representative Alla. She almost single-handedly runs amateur theatre for Russia, with a small team from a tiny office in Pushkin Square Moscow. She makes things happen and it’s sad to think that we cannot work together at the moment.
For nearly 20 years I have had the honour to be the chair of the Great Britain centre. It has enabled me and Theatretrain to travel to many events and see places not as a tourist might, but as a traveller interested in how people are. A great way to do this, even if you don’t know their language, is to see their theatre. You often catch something special from what you see.
If you would like further information on the organisation visit https://aitaiata.global/#:~:text=World%20Theatre%20Day%20is%20an,all%20aspects%20of%20theatre%20making.
Happy World Theatre Day!
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