Last week, we lost Czech playwright, poet and former President Václav Havel. I had the chance to meet Havel in 1994, when he received the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia. I was then managing director of the Wilma Theater, whose Czech born founders, Blanka and Jiri Zizka, organized a reception for him to meet the community. Havel’s legacy of championing the collective act of theatre for liberation and free expression finds new resonance in the extraordinary events of this past year.
Looking forward to 2012, we have many opportunities to practice the power of collective action. On January 19, our Leadership Teleconference, Disaster Management: Lessons Learned from the Field, will not only share best practices for TCG member theatres preparing for and recovering from disaster, but explore ways TCG and the field can work together after they strike.
On March 11, SHINSAI: Theaters for Japan will provide an opportunity for the national theatre community to provide support for our colleagues in Japan on the anniversary of the earthquake. March 27 is the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day, a program of the International Theatre Institute that celebrates the diversity and interdependence of our global theatre community.
All of this coming together culminates in our 2012 National Conference in Boston, June 21-23. We’re still in the planning stages of building on last year’s record-attendance event, but I can tell you that we’re hoping this Conference will transform the way our field takes collective action. Stay tuned, for soon after the New Year we’ll share the theme, begin registration and solicit breakout sessions.
Our I AM THEATRE series continues with Torange Yeghiazarian speaking to the power of immigrant children seeing positive stores of their countries of origin, and a video posted by Epic Theatre Ensemble student Natalie Garcia, who shares how playing a male character in a Shakespeare play transformed her confidence.
For this last Update of 2011, I leave you with a few words from Václav Havel’s 1994 speech, The Need for Transcendence in the Postmodern World, that speak to theatre’s capacity for spurring collective action and self-transformation:
“In today’s multicultural world, the truly reliable path to coexistence, to peaceful coexistence and creative cooperation, must start from what is at the root of all cultures and what lies infinitely deeper in human hearts and minds than political opinion, convictions, antipathies or sympathies —it must be rooted in self-transcendence: Transcendence as a hand reached out to those close to us, to foreigners, to the human community, to all living creatures, to nature, to the universe.”