It is another 27th of March. Another year has rolled by. Another day to celebrate the theatre, its practitioners and recognize our place as the mirror and conscience of our societies in building a better world for our today and tomorrow.
As we join the global thespian family in celebration of this year`s World Theatre Day with the theme: Theatre and a Culture of Peace, I welcome you all; practitioners, partners, stakeholders, friends of the theatre and gentlemen of the press to our 2023 World Theatre Day celebration.
We are here to celebrate ourselves because collectively, we are survivors of the many challenges that have faced us in the last 365 days. We are survivors of the many battles – armed conflict, economic, environmental, social and political that we have had to confront in the last one year. While we celebrate our being alive and being able to practice our craft of the theatre, we no doubt crave a more peaceful world where justice, equity and our safety to practice our craft is guaranteed.
The celebration of this year`s theme could not have been more apt. If the world is “a stage” where “we all are players,” then our collective performance must bring about a culture of peace and hope. As enshrined in the UNESCO constitution, “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” As theatre practitioners therefore, it is our noble call to use the theatre to teach those ideals that promote our peaceful co-existence by constructing bridges that connect us as one big, happy family.
As we celebrate, we must recognise and appreciate the enormity of our task. As theatre practitioners, our function must be to educate, inform and be the conscience of the society using our ability to tell the bluntest truth, but in a way devoid of political, tribal or religious sentiments through our works. According to Barbara Simmons “If all we hear is violence, all we will know is violence — personally or globally. If we hear stories of people rising above hatred to build a better life, we can all find the courage to create peace.” We must become the storytellers that change the narrative by stopping to romanticize and glorifying the culture of violence as a sign of “macho strength”, when we can promote peace as the greater strength.
For every theatre of political war in Nigeria, armed conflict in Ukraine and/or gender, religious insurrections in Africa, Asia or the Western world, we must provide a theatre that heals, invigorates and offers hope for a peaceful world.
For us to impact the world, we must first heal our collective wounds as a nation. Our theatre must embody hope and not hopelessness. Our theatre must spread the seeds of peace and not that of hatred. Even in the face of political uncertainty that continues to threaten our hopes, we must remain the reliable compass pointing our nation in the direction of peace.
Permit me to conclude with this quote by Sandra Obiago; “Dramatic intervention is essential at this point of our collective search for peace… We must strive to use our art to save life.”
Our theatre must be the theatre of hope and truth that the nation desires. We owe it as a debt to use our theatre to help shape and create a better, and a more peaceful Nigeria.
We are blessed with the voice that elicits attention.
We have the platform and a captive audience
As we celebrate the World Theatre Day 2023, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our theatre becomes the voice that promotes the Culture of Peace.
Once again, happy World Theatre Day
Israel Eboh fta