She’s Got the Whole World in Her Hands

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This is a Downtown Dispatches guest post by the remarkable Amanda Feldman, lead coordinator for the NYC World Theatre Day Coalition. She’s thinking big.

As a theater producer, I like to say that I collect people. The most important parts of my job include bringing people together, creating and nurturing successful collaborations. Then, once the show is imagined, I build communities of audiences to engage with those productions. While the words “collaboration” and “community” can be meaningless buzzwords, if you strip back the hype, those words are at the core of every theatrical venture.

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When I think of the ultimate “community”, I think globally. I have always been fascinated by geo-political-economic issues, in college I even majored in International Relations. Slowly my interests changed as I fell further in love with the theatre world, but I never lost that global perspective. As the General Manager of the Lark Play Development Center from 2006-2011, I was excited to have the opportunity to stretch my international muscles working with artists from many corners of the globe including Romania, Russia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Mexico.

6-27-12  World StreetWhen I first heard about World Theatre Day in March of 2009, I was curious. This was not only an opportunity to take part in the global theatrical community, but also an opportunity for the NYC theatre community to come together and celebrate, as well as an opportunity for some pretty exciting collaborations between New York City companies and companies overseas. In this instance I happily embrace the cliché: Think Globally, Act Locally perfectly captures my feelings and ambition regarding World Theatre Day.

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To give you a little background, World Theatre Day was established in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI), an international organization of theater professionals under the umbrella of UNESCO. Celebrated annually on March 27th by ITI Centres and the international theatre community, various national and international theatre events are organized to mark this occasion with the creation and circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message through which, at the invitation of ITI, a figure of world stature shares his or her reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace.

I was shocked to learn that World Theatre Day was almost 50 years old (this year is the 51st anniversary) and yet most everyone I speak to in New York City, the center of the theatre world, has still never heard of it. Maybe in a city where every day there are hundreds of different theatrical performances, it is almost counterintuitive to point to a single day to celebrate theatre. Perhaps this is the reason why it has yet to really catch fire here, and why, I’m guessing, many of you are hearing about it for the first time reading this article.

I am, however, on a mission to change that.

Originally, on behalf of the Lark Play Development Center and The Community Dish (a forum for Off Off Broadway Artists), I met with The Innovative Theatre Foundation, and The Internationalists, who were already throwing an annual party for their community on World Theatre Day. Our conversation led to the creation of The New York City World Theatre Day Coalition. Since 2009, The NYC World Theatre Day Coalition has expanded to include over 80 member organizations and each year we produce events such as panels, receptions, even a Flash Mob or two over the years.

For 2013, I conceived The Around-the-Globe Chain Play. Starting and ending in NYC, a play is currently being written as it travels through 16 stops with playwrights from across the globe. Each playwright will contribute the next one to five pages of text, moving the plot forward from where the previous playwright left off. Then, on World Theatre Day on March 27th the NYC World Theatre Day Coalition will produce a staged reading of the final script at 7:00pm at The Lark Play Development Center (311 West 43rd Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10036). The play will also be live streamed on #newplayTV.

Dario Fo
Dario Fo

The playwrights who will be writing for our First Annual Around-the-Globe Chain Play are Dominique Morisseau (USA, NYC), Bekah Brunstetter (USA, Los Angeles), Van Badham (Australia), Mixkaela Villalon (Philippines), Janice Poon (Hong Kong), Abdelrahem Alawji (Lebanon), Jeton Neziraj (Kosovo), John Freedman (Russia), Ulrike Syha (Germany), Enver Husicic (Netherlands), Zainabu Jallo (Nigeria), Beatriz Cabur (Spain), Sarah Grochala (UK), Sigtryggur Magnason (Iceland), Noé Morales Mu√±oz (Mexico), and Caridad Svich (USA, NYC). It’s a very cool collaborative project. Very rarely do playwrights get to play with each other, let alone playwrights from all corners of the globe. We are so thrilled we were able to bring together such a talented and eclectic group.

Tickets to attend the Staged Reading are free but reservations must be made in advance, as The Lark is not a large venue. For reservations go here. The play will also be live streamed #NewPlayTV. We hope audiences will be just as excited to see the staged-reading, as the playwrights are to write it!

More information about the NYC World Theatre Day Coalition as well as information on how to join the Coalition is available here. Also we will be posting the International Message by the Nobel Prize winning Italian playwright, Dario Fo as soon as the translation is made available.