This year, the Executive Board of the International Theatre Institute has chosen the great Egyptian actress Samiha AYOUB, who has been distinguished for her performances and work in theatre, television and film, to write the World Theatre Day 2023 Message.
The celebration of World Theatre Day was established in 1962 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI), with the opening of the "Theatre of Nations" season in Paris and the first message written by Jean Cocteau.
Since then, World Theatre Day has been celebrated on 27 March by the global theatre community, representing an opportunity to recall the diversity of this artistic expression and to promote the impact that theatre has on contemporary societies. The TIF commemorates this global celebration each year by inviting an internationally recognized theatre personality to write the message. The message is translated into more than 20 languages, disseminated through the International Theatre Institute's network and its National Centres (more than 90 National Centres and many Associate Members) and theatre organisations around the world, read in all theatres and broadcast by the media around the world.
Since 1962, more than 60 major theatre personalities have contributed their thoughts on theatre, culture and peace through the messages of World Theatre Day. Jean Cocteau, Arthur Miller, Peter Brooke, Pablo Neruda, Eugene Ionesco, Jakob Campanelles, Ariane Mnusquin, Augusto Boal, Dario Fo, Christophe Varlikovsky, Anatoly Vassiliev, Helen Mirren, Peter Sellars, are just a few of the major theatre artists who have been part of World Theatre Day celebrations from 1962 to the present day.
Message for the World Theatre Day 2023
Samiha AYOUB, Egypt
To all my friends, theatre artists from all over the world, I am writing you this Message for World Theatre Day and as emotionally charged as I feel with the happiness of speaking to you, every fiber of my being trembles under the weight of what we all - theatre and non-theatre artists alike - are suffering from the crushing pressures and mixed emotions in the state of the world today. The instability is a direct result of what our world is going through today in terms of conflicts, wars and natural disasters that have devastating effects not only on our material but also on our spiritual world and our peace of mind.
I am addressing you today when I have the feeling that the whole world has become like isolated islands or like ships escaping in a foggy
horizon, setting sail without guidance, without seeing anything on the horizon to guide them, and yet they go on hoping to reach a safe harbour after their long wanderings in the midst of a stormy sea.
Our world has never been more closely connected than it is today, but at the same time it has never been more disharmonious and more remote than it is today. Herein lies the dramatic paradox imposed on us by our modern world. Despite what we are all witnessing in terms of the convergence in the circulation of news and modern communications that have broken down all barriers of geographical boundaries, the conflicts and tensions that the world is experiencing have gone beyond the limits of rational understanding and have created, within this apparent convergence, a fundamental divergence that takes us away from the true essence of humanity in its simplest form.
Theatre in its original form is a purely human act based on the true essence of humanity, which is life. As the great pioneer, Konstantin Stanislavsky said, "Never come to the theatre with mud on your feet. Leave your dust and dirt outside. Leave your little worries, your quarrels, your petty problems - all the things that ruin your life and distract you from your art - with your coat at the door." When we go on stage, we go on stage with only one life in us, for a human being, but that life has the great ability to divide and reproduce to become many lives that we impart to this world, so that it can come alive, blossom and spread its fragrance to others.
What we do in the theatre world as playwrights, directors, actors, stage managers, set designers, poets, musicians, choreographers and technicians, all of us without exception, is an act of life creation that did not exist before we took the stage. This life deserves a loving hand to hold it, a caring breast to embrace it, a kind heart to sympathize with it, and a sober mind to provide it with the reasons it needs to continue and survive.
I am not exaggerating when I say that what we do on stage is the very act of life and its creation out of nothing, like a glowing coal that glitters in the dark, lighting up the night and warming its cold. We are the ones who give life its glow. We are the ones who embody it. We are the ones who give it life and meaning. And we are the ones who provide the reasons to understand it. We are the ones who use the light of art to confront the darkness of ignorance and extremism. We are the ones who embrace the doctrine of life so that life may spread in this world. That is why we strive, devote time, pour sweat, tears, blood and test our mettle, whatever it takes to spread this lofty message, defending the values of truth, goodness and beauty and truly believing that life is worth living.
I address you today, not simply to speak, not even to celebrate the mother of all the arts, the theatre, today on its world day, but to invite you to stand together, hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder, to shout with all the power of our voices, as we have learned on the stages of our theatres, and to let our words go forth to awaken the consciousness of the whole world to seek in you the lost essence of humanity. The free, tolerant, caring, compassionate, kind and accepting human being. And to allow you to reject this wretched image of barbarism, racism, bloody conflicts, one-sided thinking and extremism. People have been walking on this earth and under this sky for thousands of years and will continue to walk. So take your feet out of the mire of wars and bloody conflicts and leave your shoes at the entrance of the tent. Perhaps then our humanity, clouded by doubt, will once again become an absolute certainty that will make us all truly capable of being proud to be human and proud that we are all brothers and sisters in humanity.
It is our mission, we theatre people, the torchbearers of enlightenment, from the first appearance of the first actor on the first stage, to be in the front line against all that is ugly, bloody and inhuman. We confront them with everything beautiful, pure and human. We, and no one else, have the ability to spread life. Let us spread it together, in the name of one world and one humanity.
Curriculum Vitae Samiha AYOUB
Samiha AYOUB is an Egyptian actress, born in the Shubra district of Cairo. She graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in 1953, where she was taught by playwright Zaki Tulaimat.
During her artistic career she participated in some 170 plays, including Raba'a Al-Adawiya, Sekkat AlSalamah, Blood on the Curtains of the Kaaba, Agamemnon and The Caucasian Circle with Chalk. Despite the fact that theatre is dominant in her artistic career, she has also had many appearances in film and television.
In cinema she excelled in several films, including The Land of Hypocrisy, The Dawn of Islam, With Happiness, Among the Ruins, and in television she participated in several prominent series, the most notable of which are Stray Light, Time for Roses, Amira in Abdeen, and Al-Masrawiya.
He has received numerous honors from several presidents, including Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, as well as from Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and French President Giscard d'Estaing.