Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theater and home of the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute (ITI-US), is pleased to release John Malkovich’s international message to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of World Theatre Day on March 27, 2012. Each year, a renowned theater artist of world stature is invited by ITI Worldwide in Paris to craft an international message to mark the global occasion. This message will be translated into more than 20 languages, and TCG/ITI-US invites all theaters, individual artists, institutions and audiences to share this speech to widen awareness of World Theatre Day.
I’m honored to have been asked by the International Theatre Institute ITI at UNESCO to give this greeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day. I will address my brief remarks to my fellow theater workers, peers and comrades.
May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do. May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life’s work. And may the best of you – for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments – succeed in framing that most basic of questions, “how do we live?” Godspeed.
On March 22, 2012, Malkovich will deliver his message at UNESCO in Paris at a gala event that will include readings of play excerpts with Malkovich and other theater artists. More information on this event can be found on the ITI-Worldwide website at http://www.iti-worldwide.org.
TCG is working with its members and national partners on ongoing World Theatre Day projects like I AM THEATRE and the Generations Without Borders essay contest (http://www.tcg.org/international/events/wtd.cfm?type=1). The growing numbers of activities can be viewed using an interactive world map (http://www.tcg.org/international/events/wtd.cfm?type=5) and include:
- SHINSAI: Theaters for Japan, a nationwide fundraising event on March 11, the first anniversary of the earthquakes, involving almost 70 theaters across over 20 states to raise relief funds for the Japanese theater community affected by the disaster (http://www.tcg.org/shinsai/);
- LASTAGETalks, a free live event series for the performing arts community of Los Angeles, CA, produced by LA STAGE Alliance, kicks off March 23 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre with “What is the Intrinsic Impact of Live Theatre?”, focusing on the release of the 2011 Intrinsic Impact research done by Theatre Bay Area and WolfBrown (http://lastagetimes.com/talks);
- Panel Discussions hosted by the League of Chicago Theatres, featuring speakers like Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of Baltimore’s Center Stage, and a lecture from the artistic director of Poland’s Teatr Zar, who will be in residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art (http://chicagoplays.com/world-theatre-day.html);
- SPLATs, or Spontaneous Public Live Action Theatre, will be organized in public spaces around New York City on March 24 by the NYC World Theatre Day Coalition (www.nycwtd.com);
- Cultural Diversity, Community Identity, a free Open Space meeting surrounding theater hosted by the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance (GVPTA) in Vancouver, BC, Canada on March 27 (http://www.gvpta.ca/).
“John Malkovich’s international message is a heartfelt call to action for all theater-makers to renew their commitment to the human necessity of their work,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG. “The growing participation in World Theatre Day 2012 reminds us how that commitment can be strengthened by connecting work on a local level to our increasingly international theater movement.”
“We are thrilled to be joining the world in celebration of our art form,” said Deb Clapp, executive director of League of Chicago Theatres.Â “World Theatre Day presents an opportunity for all of us to come together and explore new opportunities for engagement with a global community of theater-makers, creating understanding across borders and opening dialogue about new forms of expression.”
“The GVPTA sees great value in celebrating World Theatre Day because it offers us an opportunity to recognize the creativity of theater artists in cultures and communities around the world, and grow local awareness of just how many of these cultures are represented by theater makers who are at home here in Metro Vancouver,” said Eleanor Stacey, executive director of the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance.
“In a city where there is so much theater, we at the NYC World Theatre Day Coalition feel it is important to pause for a moment to celebrate the great work that is being created and performed everyday and to look outward and recognize that we are part of a world-wide and centuries-old tradition,” said Amanda Feldman, coordinator of the NYC World Theatre Coalition.
Malkovich is a founding member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company and has worked on 33 productions with the company since 1976. In 1983 he won an Obie for his performance in Sam Shepard’s True West. The following year, he appeared with Dustin Hoffman in the Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman, which earned him an Emmy in 1985 when it was made into a television film. He rose to fame in cinema with his interpretation of Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons by Stephen Frears, alongside Michelle Pfeiffer and Glenn Close. After this role he acted in more than 70 movies internationally, receiving Academy Award nominations for Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire and playing a version of himself in the films Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. He has periodically returned to Chicago to act and direct, and was recently seen in the international tour of The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a serial killer. This production traveled to nearly 20 countries and received its New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in November 2011. He also directed his third theater production in Paris, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, at the ThéÃ¢tre de l’Atelier following the success of Hysteria (2002) and The Good Canary (2007) for which he was awarded the MoliÃ¨re Award for best staging.
The first World Theatre Day international message was written by Jean Cocteau in 1962. Succeeding honorees include Arthur Miller (1963), Ellen Stewart (1975), Vaclav Havel (1994), Ariane Mnouchkine (2005), Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi (2007), Augusto Boal (2009), Dame Judi Dench (2010) and Jessica A. Kaahwa (2011).