• 23 March

    Word Theatre Day Message 2017 by Isabelle Huppert

    So, here we are once more. Gathered again in Spring, 55 years since our inaugural meeting, to celebrate World Theatre Day. Just one day, 24 hours, is dedicated to celebrating theatre around the world. And here we are in Paris, the premier city in the world for attracting international theatre groups, to venerate the art of theatre.
    Paris is a world city, fit to contain the globes theatre traditions in a day of celebration; from here in France’s capital we can transport ourselves to Japan by experiencing Noh and Bunraku theatre, trace a line from here to thoughts and expressions as diverse as Peking Opera and Kathakali; the stage allows us to linger between Greece and Scandinavia as we envelope ourselves in Aeschylus and Ibsen, Sophocles and Strindberg; it allows us to flit between Britain and Italy as we reverberate between Sarah Kane and Prinadello. Within these twenty-four hours we may be taken from France to Russia, from Racine and Moliere to Chekhov; we can even cross the Atlantic as a bolt of inspiration to serve on a Campus in California, enticing a young student there to reinvent and make their name in theatre.

    Indeed, theatre has such a thriving life that it defies space and time; its most contemporary pieces are nourished by the achievements of past centuries, and even the most classical repertories become modern and vital each time they are played anew. Theatre is always reborn from its ashes, shedding only its previous conventions in its new-fangled forms: that is how it stays alive.

    World Theatre Day then, is obviously no ordinary day to be lumped in with the procession of others. It grants us access to an immense space-time continuum via the sheer majesty of the global canon. To enable me the ability to conceptualise this, allow me to quote a French playwright, as brilliant as he was discreet, Jean Tardieu: When thinking of space, Tardieu says it is sensible to ask “what is the longest path from one to another?”...For time, he suggests measuring, “in tenths of a second, the time it takes to pronounce the word ‘eternity’”…For space-time, however, he says: “before you fall asleep , fix your mind upon two points of space, and calculate the time it takes, in a dream, to go from one to the other”. It is the phrase in a dream that has always stuck with me. It seems as though Tardieu and Bob Wilson met. We can also summarise the temporal uniqueness of World Theatre day by quoting the words of Samuel Beckett, who makes the character Winnie say, in his expeditious style: “Oh what a beautiful day it will have been”. When thinking of this message, that I feel honoured to have been asked to write, I remembered all the dreams of all these scenes. As such, it is fair to say that I did not come to this UNESCO hall alone; every character I have ever played is here with me, roles that seem to leave when the curtain falls, but who have carved out an underground life within me, waiting to assist or destroy the roles that follow; Phaedra, Araminte, Orlando, Hedda Gabbler, Medea, Merteuil, Blanche DuBois….Also supplementing me as I stand before you today are all the characters I loved and applauded as a spectator. And so it is, therefore, that I belong to the world. I am Greek, African, Syrian, Venetian, Russian, Brazilian, Persian, Roman, Japanese, a New Yorker, a Marseillais, Filipino, Argentinian, Norwegian, Korean, German, Austrian, English – a true citizen of the world, by virtue of the personal ensemble that exists within me. For it is here, on the stage and in the theatre, that we find true globalization.

    On World Theatre Day in 1964, Laurence Olivier announced that, after more than a century of struggle, a National Theatre has just been created in the United Kingdom, which he immediately wanted to morph into an international theatre, at least in terms of its repertoire. He knew well that Shakespeare belonged to the world.

    In researching the writing of this message, I was glad to learn that the inaugural World Theatre Day message of 1962 was entrusted to Jean Cocteau, a fitting candidate due to his authoring of the book ‘Around the World Again in 80 Days’. This made me realise that I have gone around the world differently. I did it in 80 shows or 80 movies. I include movies in this as I do not differentiate between playing theatre and playing movies, which surprises even me each time I say it, but it is true, that’s how it is, I see no difference between the two.

    Speaking here I am not myself, I am not an actress, I am just one of the many people that theatre uses as a conduit to exist, and it is my duty to be receptive to this - or, in other words, we do not make theatre exist, it is rather thanks to theatre that we exist. The theatre is very strong. It resists and survives everything, wars, censors, penury.

    It is enough to say that “the stage is a naked scene from an indeterminate time” – all’s it needs is an actor. Or an actress. What are they going to do? What are they going to say? Will they talk? The public waits, it will know, for without the public there is no theatre – never forget this. One person alone is an audience. But let’s hope there are not too many empty seats! Productions of Ionesco’s productions are always full, and he represents this artistic valour candidly and beautifully by having, at the end of one of his plays, and old lady say; “Yes, Yes, die in full glory. Let’s die to enter the legend…at least we will have our street…”

    World Theatre Day has existed for 55 years now. In 55 years, I am the eighth woman to be invited to pronounce a message – if you can call this a ‘message’ that is. My predecessors (oh, how the male of the species imposes itself!) spoke about the theatre of imagination, freedom, and originality in order to evoke beauty, multiculturalism and pose unanswerable questions. In 2013, just four years ago, Dario Fo said: “The only solution to the crisis lies in the hope of the great witch-hunt against us, especially against young people who want to learn the art of theatre: thus a new diaspora of actors will emerge, who will undoubtedly draw from this constraint unimaginable benefits by finding a new representation”. Unimaginable Benefits – sounds like a nice formula, worthy to be included in any political rhetoric, don’t you think?...

    As I am in Paris, shortly before a presidential election, I would like to suggest that those who apparently yearn to govern us should be aware of the unimaginable benefits brought about by theatre. But I would also like to stress, no witch-hunt!

    Theatre is for me represents the other it is dialogue, and it is the absence of hatred. ‘Friendship between peoples’ – now, I do not know too much about what this means, but I believe in community, in friendship between spectators and actors, in the lasting union between all the peoples theatre brings together – translators, educators, costume designers, stage artists, academics, practitioners and audiences. Theatre protects us; it shelters us…I believe that theatre loves us…as much as we love it…

    I remember an old-fashioned stage director I worked for, who, before the nightly raising of the curtain would yell, with full-throated firmness ‘Make way for theatre!’ – and these shall be my last words tonight.

    Thank you.

    Translation Malory Domecyn and Tom Johnson.
  • 11 June

    For choreographers: Apply now for the Aerowaves Twenty

    Dance network Aerowaves invites talented emerging choreographers based in Europe to apply for the Aerowaves Twenty.
  • 6 June

    Dutch artists confirmed for Reeperbahn festival

    The first Dutch artists have been confirmed for the Reeperbahn Festival, Europe’s biggest club festival.
  • 30 May

    Dutch Performing Arts | En France: Upcoming Events

    This coming summer there are several Dutch performances in the context of Dutch Performing Arts | En France.
  • 30 May

    Recap of Classical:NEXT 2018

    De Doelen and Dutch Performing Arts promoted the classical and contemporary music scene at the Dutch Pavilion during Classical:NEXT 2018 from 16 to 20 May at De Doelen in Rotterdam.
  • 30 May

    Update about activities Dutch Performing Arts

    Dutch Performing Arts promotes Dutch music, theatre and dance abroad. These animation and infographics provide an overview of our activities in 2017.
  • 30 May

    Thinking about going to Cinars & Mundial Montreal 2018?

    Are you a Dutch-based musician, composer or (artistic) director of a Dutch music ensemble and thinking about going to Cinars and/or Mundial Montreal?
  • 28 May

    Apply for ISPA's Dutch Fellowship Programme 2019

    The Netherlands Fellowship Program provides access to ISPA's extensive international network of arts professionals to mid-career leaders from the Netherlands' performing arts community.
  • 24 May

    Open Call Music Theatre Now 2018

    The Music Theatre Committee in International Theatre Institute invites makers of operas of all shapes and sizes, which were professionally produced in the past three years, to submit their works.
  • 9 April

    Open Call Seoul Street Arts Festival

    Seoul Street Arts Festival has an Open Call for its OFF programs.
  • 4 April

    Upcoming visitors programmes

    Dutch Performing Arts will continue its organisation of visitors programmes around and with some of the most important Dutch festivals in 2018, to highlight the huge variety of Dutch performers and companies.
  • 28 March

    Dutch contribution to the Prague Quadrennial

    Platform-Scenography is pleased to announce that the Netherlands will be represented by Julian Hetzel’s performance installation SELF at the Prague Quadrennial 2019.
  • 21 March

    Open Call Theatre503 Playwriting award

    The 2018 Theatre503 Playwriting Award is now open for entries until 31 March 2018. Theatre503 supports debut and emerging writers.
  • 19 March

    Open call for Pitch Session at 18th CINARS Biennale

    CINARS offers a unique opportunity to display a work in progress in front of presenters, artists and agents taking part in the CINARS Biennale in Montreal from 12-17 November, 2018.
  • 19 March

    Open Call Operation Music Theatre 2018

    The enrolment for Operation Music Theatre 2018 is open! Would you like to present your newest project to international bookers? This is your chance.
  • 5 March

    For artists: apply now to showcase at IPAY 2019

    Performing artists can now apply to perform at the International Performing Arts for Youth Showcase Festival 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • 13 February

    Open Call SICK! Festival Commissions

    In collaboration with Dutch Performing Arts, SICK! Festival is offering two commissions of €4,500 for early- to mid-career artists based in the Netherlands.
  • 13 February

    Pitch New Works ISPA Congress Leeuwarden

    The International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) is now accepting applications for Pitch New Works, a forum for creators and presenters to promote their new performing arts projects that are in development, or that have recently premiered.
  • 1 February

    Going Dutch: jazz from the Netherlands 2018

    Dutch Performing Arts commissioned the Jazz Promotion Network (JPN) to coordinate the focus programme Going Dutch in 2017 and 2018 to support Dutch jazz musicians and/or groups to perform and tour in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland.
  • 1 February

    Open Call International Showcase PAMS 2018

    Performing Arts Market in Seoul (PAMS) has an Open Call for an international showcase programme. PAMS takes place in October 2018.
  • 29 January

    Residencies at PACT Zollverein: Urban Frictions

    PACT Zollverein is offering a residency programme for the development and realisation of projects and productions, which is open to professional artists from both Germany and abroad working in the fields of dance, performance and media art.
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