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UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week – March 21-27, 2025

In the Philippines, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and International Theater Institute (UNESCO-ITI) celebrate UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week from March 21 to 27 every year. This is thanks to Proclamation No. 1262 signed by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the country on March 21, 2007. The celebrates the power of theater to bring people together. It also recognizes theater artists across all disciplines of performance and media arts.

History of UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week

World Theater Day was established in 1961 when President Arvi Kivimaa proposed it on behalf of the Finnish Center of the International Theater Institute (ITI) at the World Congress in June 1961, first in Helsinki, and subsequently, in Vienna. The initiative received enthusiastic support from the Scandinavian centers. It is now annually observed on March 27 by ITI Centers and the international theater community as part of UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week, with several national and international theater events.

Every year, the holiday is celebrated by theatrical professionals, fans, and schools. One of the most important occasions is the delivery of the World Theater Day Message by a world figure, sharing insights on the theme of Theater and a Culture of Peace at the invitation of ITI. The International Message is translated into over 50 languages, read in front of tens of thousands of people before performances in theaters all around the world, and printed in hundreds of daily newspapers.

Colleagues in the audiovisual sphere provide a helping hand, with over a hundred radio and television stations broadcasting the message to listeners on all five continents. It’s an opportunity to convey the diversity of each country’s heritage, history, habitat, theatrical traditions, and expertise to an international audience. The Philippines program of the Earthsavers Dreams Ensemble, awarded as UNESCO Artists for Peace, exemplifies cultural caregiving for neglected sectors and underprivileged youngsters.

UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week timeline

World Theater Day is Established

The International Theater Institute (ITI) creates World Theater Day.

A Major Theater Showcase is Launched

The first edition of the Theater of Nations, an international theater showcase organized by ITI, launches in Paris.

The Theater of Nations Format Changes

Starting in Warsaw, Poland, the Theater of Nations tours the world as cities are invited to submit hosting applications.

World Theater on U.S. Soil

The Theater of Nations is held in the U.S. for the first time when it comes to Baltimore.

March 21, 2007
The Week in the Philippines

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signs Proclamation No. 1262 into law, establishing UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week.

UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week FAQs

Who wrote the first World Theater Day message?

Jean Cocteau wrote the first-ever World Theater Day message in 1962. It was first shared in Paris before it was translated into several languages and distributed around the world.

Which is the oldest theater still in use in England?

The Bristol Old Vic has been open to the public since 1766. It’s the oldest working theater in the U.K.

What's the oldest theater in the world?

The Teatro Olimpico (Olympic Theater) in Vicenza, Italy, is widely considered to be the world’s oldest theater. Its debut was in 1585.

How to Observe UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week

  1. Visit a local theater

    Visiting a local theater can be the start of a very enjoyable evening out with friends, family, or that special someone. Get tickets to see a show to celebrate UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week.

  2. Study the history of theaters

    Theaters have been a part of human society for hundreds of years. This week is the perfect period to acquaint yourself with the history of these establishments.

  3. Celebrate a theater artist

    If you know a theater artist, celebrate them, especially during UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week. You may even be encouraged to consider a career in the theater arts yourself.

5 Fun Theater Facts

  1. Preferential treatment

    Shakespeare's Globe is the only building in London that is allowed to have a thatched roof since the 1666 Great Fire.

  2. The Pope’s play

    Pope John Paul II is said to have written a play titled “The Jeweller's Shop” before he entered the papacy.

  3. Wicked namesake

    Elphaba in “Wicked” was named for “The Wizard of Oz” author L. Frank Baum.

  4. A longtime resident

    Ivor Novello lived just above the Novello Theater, London, for about 40 years.

  5. Endless storage space

    Disney World in Florida has theatrical wardrobes with over 1.2 million costumes.

Why UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week is Important

  1. It recognizes the impact of theater

    UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week raises awareness about the impact of theater on the world around us. It also gives us an opportunity to enjoy the creativity of theater artists across the globe.

  2. Large-scale displays

    This observance provides a platform for artists everywhere. It allows theatrical communities to present their work on a much larger scale and to a global audience.

  3. An inspiration for new artists

    This holiday serves as inspiration for budding artists to explore the full range of the field and find their calling. It inspires them to become the greats of tomorrow.

UNESCO-ITI World Theater Week dates

2025March 21Friday
2026March 21Saturday
2027March 21Sunday
2028March 21Tuesday
2029March 21Wednesday

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