Theatre Builds Bridges
By Paris News Group (Originally in English)
This year’s World Theatre Day was a unique celebration held at the UNESCO Centre in Paris, France. It gathered important personalities from all corners of the globe and was for the first time graced by the presence of the Supreme Master Ching Hai, kindly invited there by the ITI 1(International Theatre Institute) - Philippines President Cecile Guidote-Alvarez. Supreme Master Television had the special privilege to film the ceremony on March 27, Golden Year 4 (2007), to show it live on the air, and to interview the VIPs.
The event actually started on March 26 with a gathering of the ITI members from a number of countries to discuss “Theatre and Development.” It was followed by an afternoon meeting on March 27 entitled “60 Minutes to Convince.” Since 1970 UNESCO has linked theatre and the socio-economic development of countries. Some of its most successful projects have been: bringing artists belonging to communities in conflict together to work in workshops held on neutral ground (project developed in Egypt, Bangladesh, Cyprus, Sudan, etc…); empowering marginalized and disabled youth by equipping them with professional theatre skills (project developed in the Philippines); and, communicating information on subjects such as combating HIV/AIDS or promoting gender equality (project developed in remote rural areas as well as in the urban areas of Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mexico).
Supreme Master Ching Hai was a special guest during these conferences, where She was presented as an artist and a humanitarian. Touched by these subtle and friendly ways of resolving some of the most impending problems of our societies, She expressed all Her support and blessing, and offered a generous gift to every participant - luxurious editions of Her paintings and Her song compositions.
The most important ceremony was of course held on the evening of March 27. It was attended by theatre people and political figures related to theatre from all over the world. As a symbolic gesture of respect and appreciation, this year the floor was given to His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Sharjah. He personally wrote and read the International Message that is composed each year by a renowned artist or art defender. It is then translated into more than 20 languages, printed in hundreds of newspapers, and read before the beginning of thousands of theatre performances. His Highness used the unique occasion to first express his intimate feelings about theatre, his passionate involvement with it since his youth, and then to reveal his profound understanding of the power of theatre. He has discovered the spiritual side of this art saying, “The theatre reaches the hidden depths of the human soul, and unlocks the hidden treasures that lie deep within the human spirit.” As well as its place in society theatre is “an instrument of unification through which man can spread love and peace.” The international representatives listened to this message with utmost attention and expressed their agreement in thunderous applause.
The same enthusiastic appreciation accompanied the announcement of the winner of the annual Sharjah Award 2 for contribution to Arabian culture, placed under the patronage of His Highness. In 2007, it was attributed to the distinguished Egyptian actor, director and theatre professor, Saad Abdul Rahman Qartash. Born in 1924, his extraordinary career has brought him not only to the theatre scene, but also to the cinema, television and radio creations and since 1971 to Drama Institutes as a lecturer. He dreams to continue doing this job till the last day of his life.
All the participants gathered for friendly exchange and refreshments following the ceremony. Regardless of the diversity of nations, religions and cultures represented, only an atmosphere of deep respect and admiration for each other presided in the room. Supreme Master Ching Hai was impressive both in what She wore and Her dignified manner. She appeared in a magnificent Arabian dressed, as if brought from the magical world of “1001 Nights” and bestowed Her overwhelming love on everyone. The people couldn’t help but melt in front of Her bowing and greeting Her according to their custom. Many of the people interviewed asked in amazement: “Who is this fantastic lady?” She was an ambassador of peace and understanding, which the cameras of the Supreme Master TV captured and transmitted to the world.
The evening was an example of joy and harmony. Let’s hope that it will reach the hearts of every living being and build strong foundations for the New Golden Era.