Theatre history and political protest

In the aftermath of the US presidential election, the actors of the musical Hamilton addressed Mike Pence, Republican Governor of Indiana and US Vice-President elect, after the curtain call, expressing their worries about the future: “We hope you will hear us out.” A heated debate started after the president elect responded to this incident on Twitter. BBC News Magazine interviewed historians and critics for perspective on the history of political protest in theatre. Theatre critic Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, vice-president of the IATC, commented in the magazine ...
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International award for the Turkish newspaper, Cumhuriyet

The Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet recently received the so-called ”alternative Nobel prize”, the 2016 Right Livelihood Award, shared with three other laureates. The newspaper still exists, even though many of its journalists were arrested, 14 of them last month. Today, Turkey has 114 journalists in prison. ...
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IATC condemns Turkish ban on Shakespeare

The IATC strongly condemns the recent ban imposed in Turkey upon the works of a few major classical playwrights. It has been revealed in the international media that State theatre companies are no longer allowed to produce shows based on plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Brecht and Dario Fo. At this moment, only Turkish plays are welcome
Shortly before his recent death, Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo considered this ban a compliment: "To be barred with the Bard, he said, is like receiving a second Nobel Prize!"

As theatre critics, our aim is to promote the values of performing arts and to encourage their development through freedom of speech. Such censorship, manifesting itself through the decision to ban the theatrical writings of some of the brightest minds of all time, is a dangerous attempt to limit freedom of expression and therefore to deny fundamental human rights.
It is sad to learn that a great theatre country like Turkey, whose artists have given so much to the world since the Karageuz shadow theatre, is now deprived of classic plays from which its citizens, like all of us, still have a lot to learn today.

Margareta Sörenson, President
Michel Vaïs, Secretary General
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The IATC Cabinet and the New ExCom

The IATC Cabinet and the New ExCom at work during the General Assembly in Belgrade. Margareta Sörenson (Sweden) and Michel Vaïs (Canada) have been re-elected as President and Secretary General, respectively. The members of the newly elected Executive Committee are representatives of national sections from Canada, China, France, Georgia, India, Japan, Nigeria, Poland, Serbia and USA.
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  New books
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New edition eWAT
- English anthology of the best articles published in theatre magazine Svet a divadlo
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ATCA's blogspot

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  AWARDS - Thalia Prize Awarded to Femi Osofisan  
We are proud to announce that the 2016 Thalia Prize of the International Association of Theatre Critics will be awarded to Femi Osofisan of Nigeria, a playwright, director, actor, critic, poet, novelist, editor and newspaper columnist. The Thalia Prize is meant to highlight the work of those who have helped critics around the globe to understand new ways of seeing and appreciating the performing arts worldwide. The 2016 Thalia Prize will be presented to the awardee during the IATC Congress in Belgrade.

The IATC has been around for a long time: this year it is celebrating 60 years. But the Thalia Prize is young – only ten years old. Since the prize was created, its laureates have been Eric Bentley (2006), Jean-Pierre Sarrazac (2008), Richard Schechner (2010), Kapila Vatsyayan (2012) and Eugenio Barba (2014).

Femi Osofisan
Femi Osofisan: A Brief Introduction.... By Don Rubin, Former President, Canadian Centre of the IATC

When asked about African theatre, most theatre critics and scholars would be hard-pressed to name more than one or two playwrights beyond the Nobel Prize-winning Nigerian dramatist Wole Soyinka or the anti-apartheid activist Athol Fugard. Both made their reputations in the 1960s and 1970s.

The 2016 winner of the IATC’s prestigious Thalia Prize for contribution to theatre through critical writing, Femi Osofisan, is probably not a name that comes to mind that quickly. But hopefully – with the Thalia – that is about to change.

Osofisan is of the generation that followed those two theatrical giants and his footprint is almost as large as theirs on the continent of Africa and it is growing in other parts of the world as well. Probably his most well-known play is Once Upon Four Robbers, which is already taught in numerous universities around the world and has been widely anthologized. But it is only one of some 50 plays by this major artist and activist. These plays – like his critical writings – are cries for personal freedom and political action and include many adaptations of Greek and Shakespearean originals, tailored for whatever political situation might exist.

Like Soyinka and Fugard before him, Osofisan has attacked repressive governments wherever they have emerged and he has been attacked in turn. He has had his work staged at the Guthrie and other major regional theatres in the United States, as well as in Germany, the U.K., Sri Lanka, Canada and China. In 1982 he was appointed a member of the pioneer Editorial Board and think tank of The Guardian Newspaper (Lagos).

Canada is proud to have joined the Nigerian IATC Centre in proposing Osofisan for the Thalia. For the record, that joint proposal for Osofisan’s nomination reads as follows:

“The Nigerian Centre of the IATC in association with the Canadian Centre of the IATC propose for the 2016 Thalia Prize Prof. Femi Osofisan of Nigeria for his extraordinary career as critic, scholar, playwright and spokesman for artistic freedom in his native Nigeria and for his outspoken criticism of artistic repression across the African continent.

“The author of over 50 plays and hundreds of critical essays, four novels and five collections of poetry and the subject of several celebratory volumes in his honour, Prof. Osofisan has followed in the footsteps of Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka. His work has covered a range of subjects including, as eloquently stated in a volume of essays on his life and work published in 2009, the roles of theatre and literature in society, gender and empowerment of women, style and language, the mobility of oral tradition and even translation and transliteration.

“In that same volume, Osofisan is referred to as ‘Nigeria’s most purposeful writer and social critic cum activist. He has incessantly used his creativity to champion the cause of the marginalized members of society. Through his outstanding writing across many genres, Osofisan has led his generation of writers on the path of utilizing their writings as a mobilizing tool for social and political change...’

“In a lecture given at the University of Ibadan in 2006, Harvard Prof. Biodun Jeyifo called Osofisan ‘the most African playwright of the post-colonial era… the most prolific playwright on the African continent...’ Jeyifo went on to place Osofisan with Soyinka at the centre of the ‘radical and literary cultural movements of the past three decades.’

“Born in 1946, Prof. Osofisan entered the University of Ibadan in 1966 majoring in French (he studied for a year at the University of Dakar as part of his degree), graduating in 1969. He then won a scholarship to the Sorbonne in Paris. He did not complete his graduate degree there, however, because his supervisor did not allow him to do a thesis on African drama. He eventually obtained his PhD at the University of Ibadan with a dissertation on the ‘Origins of Drama in West Africa in English and French.’

“A Professor and former Chair at the University of Ibadan (he is now a Professor Emeritus) and recognized as playwright, director and critic, in 1982 he was appointed member of the pioneer Editorial Board and think tank of The Guardian Newspaper (Lagos). Directing his own plays at Ibadan, at other African universities and in the U.K., the U.S. (University of Pennsylvania and the University of Iowa among others), Germany, Sri Lanka, and Canada, his plays (especially his Once Upon Four Robbers, The Chattering and the Song and his African adaptations of Greek and Elizabethan plays such as Antigone and Hamlet) began winning national and international awards.

“The founder of the NGO called CentreStage Africa (the Centre for the Study of Theatre and Alternative Genres of Expression in Africa) and Vice-President of the Pan African Writers’ Association, his plays began receiving international attention after a production of his 1997 play Many Colours Make the Thunder King was presented at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.

“A volume of Osofisan’s collected essays were published in 2001 under the title Insidious Treasons. Included were major essays by Osofisan on Drama as Insurrection, the Terror of Relevance in Contemporary Nigeria, the Frontiers of Terror in a Post-Colonial State, and the Challenges of Nigerian Drama on the Euro-American Stage.

“Chosen to be the keynote speaker at the International Federation of Theatre Research World Congress in South Africa in 2007, he was – incredibly – unable to obtain a visa and his paper had to be read on his behalf. That major paper, a truly extraordinary piece of committed theatre criticism entitled “Literary Theatre After the Generals: A Personal Itinerary,” was published shortly thereafter in Theatre Research International and is required reading for anyone interested in political theatre or African theatre.

“In 2006, a critical volume about his work was published in Germany in the prestigious Bayreuth University African Studies Series under the title, Portraits for an Eagle. The volume includes essays by British scholar Martin Banham, Harvard’s Biodun Jeyifo, Africanist James Gibbs, the University of Leeds’ Jane Plastow and South African scholar Yvette Hutchison, among others.

“In 2009, another series of essays on his work, Emerging Perspectives on Femi Osofisan, was published by Africa World Press in the United States.

“Since his retirement from the University of Ibadan, Prof. Osofisan has continued to write, guest-direct his own plays and teach at universities and professional theatres around the world including Canada, Germany and, most recently in China (Peking University).

“He recently wrote: ‘I am writing for multi-cultural audiences, both in Nigeria and when I work abroad. I am looking for a third way that is neither western nor African, neither white nor black, not multi-racial but a play that simply deals with many races.’

“The Nigerian and Canadian Centres put forward this nomination in the belief that Prof. Osofisan is immensely deserving of being the first recipient from Africa of the IATC’s Thalia Prize. He has led African theatre and drama through both his playwriting and his criticism, through his art, his journalism and his immense scholarship.

“He has changed the way many Africans now perceive their own theatre and culture and he has changed the way many people in other parts of the world now perceive Africa and African theatre. Words have been his weapon against tyrannies of all sorts. Bringing his name to the whole world through the Thalia is not only appropriate but also a fitting addition to the distinguished names who have preceded him.”

We welcome Femi Osofisan to the ranks of Thalia laureates.

  AWARDS - Eugenio Barba Named Winner of the IATC Thalia Prize 2014  
The Executive Committee of the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC/AICT) is pleased to announce that the winner of its fifth Thalia Prize for Critical Writing is Eugenio Barba, theoretician, director, and founder of Odin Teatret in Denmark. The prize will be given in Beijing during the 27th World Congress of the IATC in October, 2014.

Eugenio Barba is one of the world’s most important writers on the subject of theatre anthropology. For critics and actors in the Western world, his writing opened new windows to acting, especially in relationship to Eastern tradition. His early works particularly popularized achievements of the Grotowski Laboratory and new methods of actor training. He formed a Scandinavian laboratory theatre called Odin Teatret/Nordic Teatrlaboratorium (1964), which still operates in Holstebro, Denmark; and he founded the International School of Theatre Anthropology (ISTA) in 1979.

Eugenio Barba (Photo: Tommy Bay)
Eugenio Barba was born in 1936 in Brindisi, Southern Italy. His family's socioeconomic situation changed drastically as a result of World War II. In 1954, Barba emigrated to Norway, where he worked as a welder and sailor. He went to Poland in 1961 after receiving a UNESCO scholarship to study at the state theatre school in Warsaw. Between 1962 and 1964, he worked with the Laboratory Theatre, assisting Jerzy Grotowski in his work on Akropolis by Stanislaw Wyspianski and Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Based on these experiences, he wrote his first book dedicated to Grotowski’s theatre – Alla ricerca del teatro perduto (In Search of a Lost Theatre, Padua 1965). In 1963 Barba traveled to India where he studied Kathakali, a theatre form which was unknown in the West at that time.

Barba has directed dozens of productions with Odin Teatret and Theatrum Mundi Ensemble including My Father’s House (1972), Come! And the Day Will Be Ours (1976), Brecht’s Ashes (1980), The Gospel According to Oxyrhincus (1985), Talabot (1988), Kaosmos (1993), Mythos (1998), Andersen's Dream (2005), Ur-Hamlet (2006), The Chronic Life (2011).

The first ISTA session took place in Bonn in 1980. The most recent one was organized in collaboration with the Grotowski Center and took place in Krzyzowa and Wroclaw in April 2005. In his essay, Eurasian Theatre, or a chance, Barba writes, “ISTA allows me to gather theatre masters from the West and Asia, compare extremely diverse work methods and reach for the common ground of technique – common for the work of West and East, common for ‘laboratory’ and traditional theatre, mime, ballet or contemporary dance.”

Barba has published many essays and books. Among his most recent publications, translated into many languages, are The Paper Canoe (Routledge), Theatre: Solitude, Craft, Revolt (Black Mountain Press), Land of Ashes and Diamonds: My Apprenticeship in PolandFollowed by 26 letters from Jerzy Grotowski to
Eugenio Barba (Black Mountain Press), Arar el cielo (Casa de las Americas, Havana), La conquista de la diferencia (Yuyachkani/San Marcos Editorial, Lima), On Dramaturgy and Directing: Burning the House (Routledge), and, in collaboration with Nicola Savarese, The Secret Art of the Performer: A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology (Routledge).

Barba has been awarded 11 honorary doctorates for his artistic and scientific work from various universities including: Århus (Denmark), Ayacucho (Peru), Bologna (Italy), Havana (Cuba), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Edinburgh (Great Britain), Hong Kong (China), and Warsaw (Poland). He is also the recipient of the Danish Academy Award, the Mexican Theatre Critics’ prize and the Pirandello International Prize. He is member of the editorial boards of journals such as: TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies, New Theatre Quarterly, Performance Research, and Teatro e Storia.

Previous honorees of the Thalia Prize have been Eric Bentley (2006) and Richard Schechner (2010) of the United States, Jean-Pierre Sarrazac (2008) of France and Kapila Vatsyayan (2012) of India.
  AWARDS - Kapila Vatsyayan for the IATC Thalia Prize 2012  

Kapila Vatsyayan
It is our pleasure to announce the Thalia Prize laureate Ms. Kapila Vatsyayan, Ph.D, India. This prize of honour will be handed over during the 2012 congress of the IATC in Warszaw in April.
Kapila Vatsyayan is one of India's most important writers on the subject of Indian Theatre and Indian Dance. To theatre lovers in the Western world her writing has opened new windows to Indian performing arts, early in her work popularizing Indian performing arts and multi-culturalism. Born in 1928, she has lived a life dedicated to the arts generally and to theatre and dance in particular. Her influence as a scholar and critic of Asian theatre has been deep and exemplar and deserves wide recognition.
She has authored 15 books which have become classics in the field, such as Classical Indian Dance in Literature and the Arts (Sangeet Natak Akademi, 1968), Indian Classical Dance (SNA, 1972), Traditional Indian Theatre: Multiple Streams (NBT, 1972), Traditions of Indian Folk Dance (Clarion, 1975), The Square and the Circle of Indian Arts Roli, 1983, Bharata - The Natyashastra (Sahitya Akademi, 1996) and numerous volumes on Indian regional dance. Her writings  through the 70s and 80s particularly put the entire area of Indian dance and theatre on the world map and she has been a leading figure in this area ever since. In the decades ot the 20th century when globalisation and multi-culturalism was highly influential on the stages of the western world her clear analysis and insightful understanding of the Indian tradition enlighted the way to true exchange avoiding ”cultural tourism”.
A long-time director of the Indira Gandhi National Centre of the Arts in New Delhi,  she has worked closely with the Indian government in a variety of areas as a Government Secretary in cultural development.  Since 2004, she has been a member of Unesco's Executive Board and earlier taught at major universities around ther world including the Universities of Pennsylvania, California and Michigan as well as at Banaras Hindu University, Manipur University and Kolkata University in India. She has lectured in China, Japan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Russia, France and the UK. She has been awarded numerous honorary doctorates and has been awarded India's highest honour, a Padamshri.

Margareta Sörenson's speech >........... Kapila Vatsyayan's Acceptance speech on the occasion of the award of Thalia Prize >
Invitation to the IATC Thalia Award handed over to Dr Kapila Vatsyayan in Delhi, on June 6th, 2012. > > >

The IATC draws together more than two thousand theatre critics, through some fifty National Sections. Founded in Paris in 1956, the IATC is a non-profit, Non-Governmental Organization benefitting under statute B of UNESCO.

The purpose of the IATC is to bring together theatre critics in order to promote international cooperation. Its principal aims are to foster theatre criticism as a discipline and to contribute to the development of its methodological bases; to protect the ethical and professional interests of theatre critics and to promote the common rights of all its members; and to contribute to reciprocal awareness and understanding between cultures by encouraging international meetings and exchanges in the field of theatre in general.

The IATC holds a world congress every two years, seminars for young critics twice a year, as well as symposiums, and contributes to juries. English and French are the association's two official languages, and its place of incorporation is Paris.

Please send any post mail either to the president, to the secretary general or, for subscriptions and payment of dues, to the general treasurer.

  President - Ms Margareta Sörenson
Tel/fax: 46 8 657 97 70
E-mail: soerenson @

  Secretary General - Mr Michel Vaïs
987, route Marie-Victorin, Verchères
Québec, Canada, J0L 2R0
Tel: (1) 514 278 5764
E-mail: michelninovais @

  General Treasurer - Mr Stéphane Gilbart
3, rue Oster
L-8146 Bridel - (Grand-Duché de Luxembourg)
Tel: 00 (352) 621 740 703 | Fax: 00 (352) 33 22 82
E-mail: stgilbar @
Copyright..IATC - International Association of Theatre Critics / AICT - Association internationale des critiques de théâtre..2015
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