Global Citizenship is one of the Core Values TCG identified as part of our 50th Anniversary, and in recent days, we’ve been reminded of its importance in both troubling and inspiring ways. Mona Eltahawy, the opening keynote speaker of our 2011 National Conference, reported last week that she was detained, beaten and sexually assaulted by Egyptian security forces while covering the recent protests in Cairo. Her Conference speech was a moving reminder of the importance of creative expression in protecting human rights and fostering change. She’s now safely returned to the United States, and we send her our support.
As Egyptians were voting in the first parliamentary elections since Mubarak’s fall, Theatre J in DC was featuring two works from Egyptian-American playwright Yussef El Guindi as part of their Voices From a Changing Middle East Reading Series 2011. The evening was dedicated to Mona Eltahawy, and featured a post-show discussion with Middle East foreign service officers, Egyptian media and community members, and academics specializing in the Middle East.
On another positive note, Belarus Free Theatre (BFT) has found political asylum in England. Many of you may remember our coverage of BFT’s escape from “the last dictatorship in Europe” and the subsequent U.S. journey of their acclaimed play, Being Harold Pinter. Catherine Coray’s post here on the TCG Circle has more, including how you can support this company’s brave work.
Another example of theatres supporting each other across borders is Shinsai: Theaters for Japan. On March 11, 2012, the first anniversary of the earthquakes, theatres everywhere are invited to stage fundraising events featuring a menu of 10 minute plays and songs commissioned from major American and Japanese artists. Led by a growing nation-wide consortium of theatre organizations, Shinsai will raise relief funds for the Japanese theatre community affected by the disaster through audience donations and the funds will then be distributed though the Japan Playwrights Association. You can learn more about Shinsai (which means “great quake” in Japanese) on our website.
Shinsai is one part of TCG’s efforts to help theatres become more resilient in the face of adversity and disaster. On Thursday, January 19 at 1pm (ET), I’ll be moderating Disaster Management: Lessons Learned from the Field, the first call in our 2012 Leadership Teleconference series. We’ll hear from an expert in post-crisis sustainability, as well as first hand experiences from theatre leaders who’ve led their theatres through disaster to recovery. Participants will learn best practices for being ready for, responding to and recovering from disasters, as well as discuss ways TCG can be a better resource when disaster strikes. Registration begins later this week.
Committing to our value of Global Citizenship means acknowledging that we are stronger when we act together; that a victory for one theatre is a victory for all; and that adversity is lessened when it is shared. Next week, I’ll be sharing more examples of the increasing interdependence of our global theatre movement. Until then, I offer the words of Shinsai participant and President of the Japan Playwrights Association, Yoji Sakate, “We seek to work with our international peers to demonstrate the potential of human beings and the theatre to overcome adversity as well as the primordial power of expression on stage.”
Last, but definitely not least, I leave you with last week’s I AM THEATRE video, which is of Michael Maso—need I say more!