Thursday, March 28, 2019

CELEBRATE: 2019 World Theatre Day

Director Carlos Celdrán (Cuba)
Photo: Laura Ramos
Message from Cuban director Carlos Celdrán on behalf of the International Theatre Institute, in celebration of 2019 World Theatre Day

Translation from Spanish by Luis Llerena Diaz

Before my awakening to the theatre, my teachers were already there. They had built their houses and their poetic approach on the remains of their own lives. Many of them are unknown, or are scarcely remembered: they worked from silence, in the humility of their rehearsal rooms and in their spectator-packed theatres and, slowly, after years of work and extraordinary achievement, they gradually slid away from these places and disappeared. When I understood that my personal destiny would be to follow their steps, I also understood that I had inherited that gripping, unique tradition of living in the present without any expectation other than achieving the transparency of an unrepeatable moment; a moment of encounter with another in the darkness of a theatre, with no further protection than the truth of a gesture, a revealing word. 

My theatrical homeland lies in those moments of meeting the spectators who arrive at our theatre night after night, from the most varied corners of my city, to accompany us and share some hours, a few minutes. My life is built up from those unique moments when I cease to be myself, to suffer for myself, and I am reborn and understand the meaning of the theatrical profession: to live instants of pure ephemeral truth, where we know that what we say and do, there under the stage lights, is true and reflects the most profound, most personal, part of ourselves. My theatrical country, mine and that of my actors, is a country woven from such moments, where we leave behind the masks, the rhetoric, the fear of being who we are, and we join hands in the dark.

Theatrical tradition is horizontal. There is nobody who may affirm that theatre exists at any center in the world, in any city or privileged building. Theatre, as I have received it, spreads through an invisible geography that blends the lives of those who perform it and the theatrical craft in a single unifying gesture. All masters of theatre die with their moments of unrepeatable lucidity and beauty; they all fade in the same way, without any other transcendence to protect them and make them illustrious. Theatrical teachers know this, no recognition is valid when faced with that certainty which is the root of our work: creating moments of truth, of ambiguity, of strength, of freedom in the midst of great precariousness. Nothing survives except data or records of their work in videos and photos that will only capture a pale idea of what they did. However, what will always be missing from those records is the silent response by the public who understands in an instant that what takes place cannot be translated or found outside, that the truth shared there is an experience of life, for a few seconds, even more diaphanous than life itself.

When I understood that the theatre was a country in itself, a major territory that covers the whole world, a determination arose within me, which was also the realization of a freedom: you do not have to go far away, or move from where you are, you do not have to run or move yourself. The public is wherever you exist. You have the colleagues you need at your side. There, outside your house, you have all the opaque, impenetrable daily reality. You then work from that apparent immobility to design the greatest journey of all, to repeat the Odyssey, the Argonauts’s journey: you are an immobile traveller who does not cease to accelerate the density and rigidity of your real world. Your journey is toward the instant, to the moment, toward the unrepeatable encounter before your peers. Your journey is toward them, toward their heart, toward their subjectiveness. You travel within them, in their emotions, their memories that you awaken and mobilize. Your journey is vertiginous, and nobody may measure or silence it. Nor may anybody recognize it to the right extent, it is a journey through the imagination of your people, a seed that is sown in the most remote of lands: the civic, ethical and human conscience of your spectators. Due to this, I do not move, I remain at home, among my closest, in apparent stillness, working day and night, because I have the secret of speed.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

REPORT: Russian Critics Celebrate Detained Director

Director Kirill Serebrennikov

The Russian Association of Theatre Critics has named director Kirill Serebrennikov as Person of the Year for his “unprecedented dedication to theatre in circumstances of house arrest.”

Serebrennikov has been detained under house arrest since August 23, 2017, while undergoing investigation for “financial mismanagement” related to the interdisciplinary performing arts project titled The Platform. Prominent artistic personalities and professional associations in Russia, Europe, and the Americas have considered his trial a politically motivated case of selective justice, and called for his release. At the Europe Theatre Prize festivities in St. Petersburg last November, leading Russian and European theatre artists decried Serebrennikov’s continued detention and repression, which added a note of risk and danger to the prize ceremony.

According to the website of PEN America:

Serebrennikov has been an activist and government critic, making him a target of repression. He has protested against Russia’s involvement in the Russo-Georgian war of 2008, election fraud in 2011, persecution of the LGBT community, and arrests of Pussy Riot members, among other issues. He called Russia a country of “unabolished slavery” where people do not value freedom and a chasm exists between the people and power.

During Serebrennikov’s house arrest, two productions that he initiated were presented to the public: Così fan tutte at Opernhaus Zürich and Baroque at the Gogol Center in Moscow. His film, The Summer, was presented at Cannes Film Festival. The ballet Nureyev, which he directed, and his production of Small Tragedies were nominated for the Golden Mask, the Russian National Theatre Prize.

Friday, December 7, 2018

NOTED: American Theatre Critics Association Re-Elected to International Governing Body

Members of the AICT-IATC Executive Committee meet in the shadow
of Anton Chekhov's bust at Дом Актера (Actor's House) in St. Petersburg

The American Theatre Critics Association, the United States national section of the International Association of Theatre Critics (AICT-IATC), was re-elected to the Executive Committee of IATC at the General Assembly during the association’s World Congress in St. Petersburg, Russia, on November 15. The congress was held in conjunction with the 17th Europe Theatre Prize/Premio Europa per Il Teatro. Attending the congress were Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, IATC Vice President and Chair of ATCA’s International Committee, and Brad Hathaway, immediate past Vice Chair of the ATCA Executive Committee.

Prior to the General Assembly, members from across the globe were invited to address the congress on the topic of "Performing Arts Today: Freedom and (In)tolerance." Presenters included representatives from Serbia, Russia, Québec, the United States, Slovakia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. Following the conference, AICT-IATC honored the esteemed German scholar Hans-Thies Lehmann with the 2018 Thalia Prize, presented to a critic, scholar and/or practitioner whose work has had a profound impact on the nature of the field. Lehmann was honored for his groundbreaking work, Postdramatic Theatre

The General Assembly re-elected Margareta Sörenson (Sweden) to her final term as President. Michel Vaïs (Canada) was re-elected Secretary General, marking twenty years in that position. Further, the General Assembly confirmed that the 30th AICT-IATC World Congress will be held in Bratislava, Slovakia in early May 2020. The vote in the General Assembly resulted in the selection of ten national sections that will serve as the voting Executive Committee for the next two years: China, France, Georgia, India, Japan, Nigeria, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey and the United States.

The USA section received 85 percent of the possible votes, which caused Jenkins to note, “It is deeply gratifying that our international colleagues are so supportive of keeping our section engaged in this time of global uncertainty for the arts and for humanity.”


Friday, August 24, 2018

REPORT: News on International Theatre Criticism

Barry Gaines
American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA) member Barry Gaines attended the 16th Europe Theatre Prize festivities in Rome last December and wrote about the experience for Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques, the journal of the International Association of Theatre Critics (AICT-IATC).

The 2018 prize festivities will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, to coincide with the 29th World Congress of the International Association of Theatre Critics, November 13–18, 2018. During the World Congress, IATC will present the 7th Thalia Prize, which is given, according to IATC President Margareta Sörenson, to someone who has been "responsible for a body of work in criticism and theatre studies" that has also been "particularly important to us, the international critics, in our profession."

Hans-Thies Lehman
Hans-Thies Lehmann, the 2018 Thalia laureate, wrote the groundbreaking book Postdramatic Theatre (Routledge English edition, 2006), in addition to other influential texts. According to authoritative sources, Lehmann's work summarizes "a number of tendencies and stylistic traits occurring in avant-garde theatre since the end of the 1960s." What he refers to as "postdramatic" is not "focused on the drama in itself, but evolves a performative aesthetic in which the text of the performance" engages with the "material situation of the performance and the stage." Lehmann's codification of the field has been highly influential for artists and scholars alike since it was published in German in 1999. Past Thalia Prize laureates are Eric Bentley (USA, 2006), Jean-Pierre Sarrazac (France, 2008), Richard Schechner (USA, 2010), Kapila Vatsyayan (India, 2012), Eugenio Barba (Denmark, 2014), and Femi Osofisan (Nigeria, 2016).

For the World Congress,conference on “Performing Arts: Freedom and (In)Tolerance” has been announced and paper proposals are currently being adjudicated. Given rising levels of nationalism and autocracy throughout the globe, this World Congress and its conference promise to richly engage participants on issues that are of great importance in this political and cultural moment. American delegates to the congress are IATC Vice President Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, and ATCA members Ellen Foreman and Brad Hathaway. Members of the editorial board of Critical Stages/Scènes Critiques will also gather in Russia to set the course for the journal's next two years.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

ANNOUNCEMENT: St. Petersburg World Congress

Magic Hour: St. Petersburg
The 29th World Congress of the International Association of Theatre Critics (AICT-IATC), which was postponed when the host withdrew its offer a few months ago due to lack of funding, will now be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, November 13 through 17 to coincide with the festivities of the Europe Theatre Prize.

ATCA, the US section of IATC will send two delegates with the association providing partial funding. Those delegates should be members who have been active in ATCA matters over the past two years.

Due to the short deadline for American citizens to receive an appropriate visa to attend the event, American Theatre Critics Association members are requested to contact ATCA vice chair Brad Hathaway (Brad [at] to express interest in serving as one of two delegates representing the American section of IATC.

Our Russian counterparts need to receive official visa application information by June 30, 2018, which will include a registration form they have provided, a copy of the applicant's passport, and other relevant information. In order to be considered, potential participants MUST express interest to Brad Hathaway by Sunday, June 17, 2018, in order to receive full consideration by ATCA's executive committee.

PLEASE NOTE: Applicants' passports must not have an expiration date before June 2019.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

READ: World Theatre Day Messages

Global Messengers: Ram Gopal Bajaj (India), Maya Zbib (Lebanon),
Simon McBurney (United Kingdom), Sabina Berman (Mexico)
and Wêrê Wèrê Liking (Ivory Coast)
In celebration of World Theatre Day, March 27, and in recognition of the International Theatre Institute's (ITI) seventy years of building greater understanding through cross-cultural and international programs in theatre, the Executive Council of ITI has selected five authors to offer messages for theatre lovers everywhere. There is one representative from each of the five UNESCO Regions: Africa, the Americas, Arab Countries, Asia Pacific and Europe. 

The messages have been translated into a variety of international languages ranging from Amharic to Romanian. According to the ITI website:
World Theatre Day was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI). It is celebrated annually on 27 March by ITI Centers and the international theatre community. Various national and international theatre events are organized to mark this occasion. One of the most important of these is the circulation of the World Theatre Day 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. The first World Theatre Day Message was written by Jean Cocteau in 1962.

Ever since, each year on 27 March (date of the opening of the 1962 "Theatre of Nations" season in Paris), World Theatre Day has been celebrated in many and varied ways by ITI Centers - of which there are now more than 90 throughout the world. Moreover theatres, theatre professionals, theatre lovers, theatre universities, academies and schools celebrate it as well.

Each year an outstanding figure in theatre or a person outstanding in heart and spirit from another field is invited to share his or her reflections on theatre and international harmony. What is known as the "International Message" is translated into more than 50 languages, read for tens of thousands of spectators before performances in theatres throughout the world, and printed in hundreds of daily newspapers. Colleagues in the audio-visual field lend a fraternal hand, with more than a hundred radio and television stations transmitting the message to listeners in all corners of the five continents.
The link above will take you to the main message page, where you may access the messages in a variety of translations. Happy World Theatre Day! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

CALL: Young Critics' Workshops in June

Workshop for Young Critics in Limoges

The International Association of Theatre Critics (AICT–IATC) is organizing a workshop for young theatre critics scheduled to be held June 11–17, 2018, in Limoges, France. The program will be undertaken during the Festival International des Écoles de Théâtre, with support from the Théâtre de l'Union, Centre Dramatique National du Limousin. Potential participants are invited to apply, as soon as possible, to join one of two working groups of six participants maximum per group (one French-speaking group and one in English). 

Candidates must be professional critics between the ages of 18 and 35. All candidates are invited to send an application form completed (see below) with a brief resume (one page), 2 or 3 samples of published articles in media and a letter of recommendation from the person in charge of the AICT–IATC section in their country, if the country has an IATC section.

All documents must be sent in a single PDF file, if possible. Please note the following:
1) Only candidates may apply, not the national representative of AICT–IATC sections. 
2) Candidates must have a good knowledge of one of the two working languages. Please describe your fluency level in English and French.

Participants will be hosted in a shared double room. Noon and evening meals will be provided. You will receive a free entry pass for all the shows and encounters during the Festival. You will also be picked up at the train station.

Working-group monitors will include theatre critic Jean-Pierre Han, assisted by Mariko Anazawa (French-speaking group). The name of the English-speaking monitor will be announced later.

Applications will be accepted until May 8, 2018, and they must be sent to the Director of Seminars, Jean-Pierre Han: A final list of all accepted applications will be announced as soon as possible, in order to allow time for participants to prepare for their trip, and get visas for France as necessary.

Application Information for the Young Critics’ Workshop





Other contacts (telephone, mobile):


IATC-affiliated national\regional section recommending the young critic:

Other documents:

Short CV and main professional experience (newspapers, journals, radio/TV, web, blog, etc.)

Attached samples from articles published or otherwise (2-3)

Other recommendations (should home country be without national association of theatre critics).