Theatre leaves an indelible impression on a child, awakening awareness of the world and of other people’s realities. All children have a right to arts.
ASSITEJ (French acronym – Association Internationale du Théatre pour L´Enfance et la Jeunesse) is the only association of its kind connecting thousands of theatre makers, artists, educators and producers dedicated to theatre for children across the world.
ASSITEJ has members in over 100 countries across the globe, including 80 National Centers. On March 20, the global campaign #takeachildtothetheatre advocates for the cultural entitlement of children to have access to spaces for creative play, performance, theatre and expression. March 20 is ASSITEJ World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People.
Yvette Hardie, both the global President of the association, serving her third term in this position, and also the national director of ASSITEJ South Africa, has written a World Day message to conscientise people to the importance of this campaign. She says, “The rough magic that can transform a dusty playground, or a township hall, a school classroom, or a refugee compound, is often what is most needed – not just because it is more practical and economical to meet children in their everyday circumstances, but also, more profoundly, because it IS magic.” She is joined by two extraordinary practitioners this year – one from Syria and one from the USA – who have added their voices to the campaign.
Mohamad al Jounde is 17, from Syria, and won the 2017 International Children’s Right Prize for having created a school for refugee children in Lebanon. He says: “Theater still one of the best ways to express yourself and a mirror to show people what’s good and wrong in our world. The stage is a space where you can create your own world; where you can feel your dreams coming to life.”
Beloved children’s author from the USA, and the creator of Pigeon Drives the Bus, among other classics, Mo Willems says: “When you’re snuggled in your seats and the curtain rises, know that you’ll see more than just a show; you will experience a new, special connection with a child who is special to you. Oh, and that kid will probably have fun, too.”
You can read the complete World Day messages here: http://www.assitej-international.org/en/the-world-day-of-theatre/the-world-day-of-theater-2018
In South Africa, there are many children and young people who do not have access to theatre especially made for them. This is a gap into which ASSITEJ SA has stepped with great energy and passion over the last years.
Their project Theatre4Youth (found at www.theatre4youth.co.za) aims to make theatre more accessible to schools, for artists to have a sense of what other artists are making, and to be able to research the schools who are interested in receiving work. However, many of these theatre companies do not have funding to take their work to schools, despite having performance-ready pieces, as many schools cannot afford to pay them. We are aiming to select several productions from the website and to support these to perform for needy audiences, through a Thundafund campaign, which is found here: www.thundafund.com/project/takeachildtothetheatre2018
There is still time to donate a performance or to sponsor children to see theatre this month. We encourage all those interested to join the campaign by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about or offer special events in your province, or to donate directly to the Thundafund campaign.