World Theatre Day was created in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI), and is celebrated annually on March 27 by global ITI centers and the international theatre community. Various national and international theatre events are organized to celebrate an international message and remarks from national cultural leaders. The Global Theater Initiative (GTI), a partnership between Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics (the Lab), encourages U.S. theatres, individual artists, institutions and audiences to celebrate the occasion annually on the 27th of March.

Since 1962, World Theatre Day has been celebrated by the circulation of the World Theatre Day Message through which, at the invitation of ITI, a figure of world stature shares their reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace. The first World Theatre Day international message was written by Jean Cocteau in 1962. Succeeding honorees have included 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), Jessica A. Kaahwa (2011) and Heather Raffo (2018).

In GTI's role as the U.S. center of ITI, a U.S.-based author is chosen to circulate a national message for World Theatre Day in addition to the international message. Past U.S. honorees have included Indigenous Direction (2019), Kwame Kwei-Armah (2017), Ping Chong (2016), Diane Rodriguez (2014), Jeffrey Wright (2011) and Lynn Nottage (2010). For the current year's U.S message, click here. To view past messages, click here.

To learn more about World Theatre Day, visit the official website at www.world-theatre-day.org.

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