On World Theatre Day

Why is Theatre on the UNESCO International Days list? One look at the list of days set aside by UNESCO for commemoration, and you’d realise something is odd. Environment, Ocean, Indigenous People, Democracy, Peace, Philosophy, AIDS, Persons with Disability, Migrants, Press Freedom, all have their commemorative days. Each one of these ideas and/or communities are under constant threat, and understandably need an annual reminder to continue efforts for protection and preservation. No other art practice finds its mention on this list - no Cinema Day, no Fine Arts day, No Music Day (ok there is Jazz Day). So how come Theatre landed up on this list? Is it endangered, does it need protection, or perhaps resuscitation? Does it need a constant reminder that doing theatre is a Human Rights Issue (itself already on the list), that any collective act to self-determination and self-organisation is, in its very essence, an act of rehearsing the community.

Theatre has historically debated and expressed each one of the concerns that find themselves on the UNESCO list. If you’ve watched plays, you have most likely come across a play that privileged the marginal voice - the migrant’s, the worker’s, the child’s, the woman’s, the jester’s, the tramp’s, the poet’s, the philosopher’s, and countless others who occupy the periphery. Yet, the very medium in which the margin finds its voice, is itself on the commemoration list. This is twice marginalised then - talking about the margin while being one. And I think this is a beautiful space to be in. We need to celebrate Theatre everyday, fill our streets with everything that is marginalised, bring them to occupy the centre, even if temporarily, everyday.