World Theatre Day Celebration
There are more and more fields of human activity, which demand planning events for their development as organization or community. There are many types of events, such as business events, seminars, press tours, competitions, concerts, corporate celebrations or team-building events, festivals etc. Some events may combine elements of different types. For instance, a corporate celebration may include team-building, competition or educational elements. This paper aims to combine several types of activities in a celebration party in tribute to the World Theatre Day.
In 2016, the 55th World Theatre Day will be celebrated in all the countries. This is a special public holiday, which was initiated by International Theatre Institute in 1961. It is celebrated annually on the 27th March (ITI). The most significant feature of the world-wide celebration is the circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message (world-theatre-day.org/en/). The latter one reflects visions of the theatre theme in cultural and public aspects that belongs to theatre figure of world status. Many theatres all over the world prepare for this day during the whole season and often plan their premieres to be demonstrated exactly on this date. Others plan day-long events and activities or special parties to celebrate the World Theatre Day in a closed circle of definite theatre troop or conversely, make it a public event.
The task of this paper is to plan a three-day event for closed non-professional theatre communities of local significance. Participants could be up to 80 amateur actors and directors, scene designers, or other people who are involved into the theatre life within local drama groups. The event is a combination of educational and celebration activities, as it involves seminars and trainings for theatre members and a celebration party, where products of their learning will be presented. The aim of the paper is to plan the event according to Joe Goldblatts’ concepts.
To begin with, the term “event” comes from the Greek word, which means “outcomes” (Goldblatt, p.40). In one of his lectures Dr. Joe Goldblatt mentions that in different languages this word has different origins. For instance, the Russian word for “event” sounds like “sobytije”, which literary means “co-being”. From these definitions, one should note that the process is as important as the product of any event. In case of the theatre event the process can be education-oriented, while the product might be followed by a celebration party.
Joe Goldblatt (p. 50, 54-57) recommends beginning planning with 5 Ws, pre-event research and SWOT analysis.
SWOT - analysis
Strengths - Direct promotion of the event among attendances.
- Specific target audience, who is interested in the event.
- Good promotion for benefiters.
- An excellent news hook for local media, which cover local events.
Weaknesses - Weak funding.
- Few human resources.
- Poor public-relations history, as the event is going to be held for the first time.
Opportunities - In case of the event’s success – a possibility of annual celebration or even converting it into the annual festival.
- Involving not only local audience in future.
- In case of good media follow-ups and positive responses – a possibility of holding such events in different locations and not only in terms of the World Theatre Day, but in honour of different theatre related figures or events.
Threats - Absence of sponsorship.
- Simultaneous participation of benefiters in other events of the same fields.
- Discrepancy of the location to the benefiters’ demands.
- Absence of appropriate cultural and art centre.
- Lack of space for the attendances’ team work.
The pre-event research should be directed on the demands of contemporary local theatre groups. The target communities are those of different professional or educational organizations, which include dramatic groups as a peripheral aspect of their work; or these could be independent amateur theatre groups. The research does not involve professional theatre workers as target audience, but it does include them as participants of the event in the role of seminars and training curators.
The first thing to do is to find out, how many dramatic groups for adults there are in a town. This plan is optimized for a small town with up to 5-8 theatre communities. The participants must be aged 21. After figuring out the target audience, which will attend this event, the next step is to elicit their cultural needs and gaps in their free-time theatre activities. This can be a query within the groups, which would include the above mentioned questions and questions about their willingness and possibilities to become a participant and availability during the event.
The pre-event query paper should be held far before the actual date and it may look like this:
Name______________________________ Age__________ Gender___________________
Name of the drama group _____________________________________________________
Direction of the drama group___________________________________________________
Position in the drama group____________________________________________________
What do you need to learn to proceed working in amateur theatre and make your work more successful___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Are You available during March 25-27th? _________________________________________
Whom would You like to see in role of Your curator ____[list of possible benefiters]_______
The aims of the event are:
- To celebrate the World Theatre Day with a party.
- To evoke people, dealing with theatre in terms of their hobby, share experience and get tips from professionals in this field.
- To entertain and be entertained.
- To raise the interest of theatre activities among people, dealing with other fields of activities within the society.
- To promote theatre activities among the media not only of the local significance.
- The aims of people’s participation are:
- To share experience.
- To get useful contacts.
- Team-building within specific groups and the whole local representatives of the field.
- To learn useful information from professionals for their amateur work.
- To become a part of World Theatre Day celebration party.
Participants, who will benefit the event, are invited theatre trainers, directors, curators, and actors. In general, the benefiters are those, who are professionals in the field and who have a special education. Funding of the event may occur as a problem, because it should involve several sources. The most appropriate one is local authorities and people, who will attend the event. One more important thing to do is establishing a registration process. The most convenient way to do this is online registration, so that the manager of the event can create a database of all the participants. This step is important, because the willingness of potential participants does not always accord to their possibility, so once they are registered; they confirm their future presence on the event. It must be stated in the registration form that the membership fee is required.
The time of the event is the 25-27th of March and it is not flexible, because it is bound to the specific day, which is the compelling reason for the event. The term is 3 days, which include training and seminar sessions, daily presentations of the educational outcomes; the gala night on the 27th of March – the date of the World Theatre Day, when the results of work will be fully presented, presents and certificates about attending the event will be given; and the celebration party will be held.
The best location for the educational part of the event is a spacious local cultural and art centre and a restaurant for the celebration part. If the centre has a large hall, a catering can be booked for the closing party, which can be held there. The hotel is necessary rather for the benefiters of the event, than for the attendances, because they are situated on their territory. As the event lasts for three days, it is important to arrange these dates with the local authorities, responsible for the art centre. In addition, the essential point is to book the hotel rooms and services, such as breakfasts, lunches and dinners for benefiters. It is also important to provide all the participants with coffee-breaks during the sessions. The last point can be solved with the help of a nearby restaurant or café.
One of the most important features of a successful event is well trained staff, so the manager must create a responsibilities list. If there are up to 60 people (about 5-7 groups), there must be 15 guides. These ones might be volunteers from the local schools. Their task is to accompany each group during the trainings, follow the timing, and welcome participants in front of the art centre every morning. The coordinator of the volunteers should be a person from the event-team, who will train them before the event. The volunteers must get the information about the groups, they will guide, lists of the participants of the groups and their contacts, retrieved from the registration information by the volunteer coordinator.
Another person must be responsible for the equipment, instrumentalities, and decorations. As this event is a theatre oriented one, the location demands a good stage with lights, curtains. There would be seminars and trainings, so the responsible person must contact all the benefiters and make a list of their demands, related to their further work; and the next step is to find all the necessary equipment, such as whiteboard, computers, and sound facilities, up to the balls for introduction activities or paper for a flipchart board.
Once the participants are registered, they get information about the program of the event. In addition, this information should have a printed version and a designed label of the event. This must be a responsibility of a public-relations manager, who conducts the registration process, holds the query, and contacts the local media.
In accordance to the SWOT analysis, the public-relations field of work is one of the most responsible parts of this event. PR manager’s task is also to design (or hire a designer, who can do that) a symbol of the event and conduct its publication in typographical agency. The symbol should reflect drama leitmotiv, relate to the ITI and the World Theatre Day International Message, and be original, of course. After the label is designed, it must be put on all the paper instrumentalities, documents, certificates, souvenirs and presents for participants. These might be bags, flash cards, printed programs, all the handouts, T-shirts, pens, badges or etc. The best souvenir for this event is probably a theatre-related thing, such as a dell’arte mask or a model of the local theatre, for instance.
His next step is to make a press-release and provide media with the program of the event, and to keep in touch with the media up to the event; moreover, accompany the media representatives during the event and contact them to check follow-ups after the special occasion. His task might also share information about the World Theatre Day via different social networks, world theatre portals and on the local authorities’ web sites. As the PR manager has so many different duties, he should be provided with several assistants, who have fewer duties, within the event team, and several photographers (these could be also volunteers).
One more person must be responsible for the logistics, dishes, drinks, and accommodations. S/he is the one to book tickets and hotel rooms for the benefiters, conduct the processes and timing in restaurants or the processes, referring to the catering service (coffee breaks, meals, waiters’ work etc.). In addition, the same person may be responsible for the city tour for foreign participants. In addition, the moderator of the training process must be chosen. This should be an artistic person with good speaking and leading skills. S/he will be the face of the event as among the participants, either among the media.
After the registration of participants is closed, benefiters are chosen; time and place are arranged, it is time to plan the three-day program of the trainings, seminars, presentations, gala night, and celebration party according to the possibilities of benefiters’ transportation. In addition, the duties inside the event-team must be shared and timed.
When the current location of the benefiters before the beginning of the event is determined, the managers of the event must book tickets for them to arrive on time. There must be co-workers of the event or volunteers, who will welcome these participants at the station and accompany them to their hotel rooms. There, these participants should have time to rest after their arrival, have breakfast etc. In addition, there must be event team representatives, who will welcome the attendances in the art centre and representatives of media, presenting them programs, press-kits, gifts etc. So, the program of the event may look so:
8:00 – 12:00 – Welcoming the participants at the station and hotel, providing them with the booked rooms, breakfasts.
12:00 – 14:00 – Checking-in and introduction of the participants at the art centre, providing information about the plans for the further three days; splitting participants into the teams, providing them with the event-team guide and a curator, one of the benefiters.
14:00 – 15:00 – Lunch.
15:00 – 17:00 – Theatre trainings/seminars (for everyone).
17:00 – 18:00 – Conclusions of the day 1.
18:00 – 19:00 – Dinner.
19:00 – not measured – Providing a town-tour for the benefiters to make them acquainted to the local places of interest and hospitality of the town.
8:00 – 9:00 – Breakfast for the benefiters of the event.
9:00 – 12:00 – Arranged trainings/seminars/other theatre activities for theatre directors and playwrights in the art centre.
12:00 – 12:30 – Coffee break for everyone.
12:30 – 14:00 – Arranged trainings/seminars/other theatre activities for actors and team work in the art centre.
14:00 – 15:00 – Lunch.
15:00 – 17:00 - Arranged trainings/seminars for stage designers; theatre activities and team work in the art centre.
17:00 – 18:00 – Presentation of the results of the day 2.
18:00 – 19:00 – Dinner.
19:00 – not measured – Free time.
9:00 – 12:00 – Arranged trainings/seminars about amateur theatre promotion/other theatre activities and team work in the art centre.
12:00 – 12:30 – Coffee break for everyone.
12:30 – 14:00 – Arranged trainings/seminars/other theatre activities in the art centre, preparing teams for the evening presentations at the gala night.
14:00 – 15:00 – Lunch.
15:00 – 16:30 – Free time for preparation for the gala night (the event team representatives prepare the hall for gala night; conduct the process of preparing a restaurant for the celebration party).
17:00 – not measured – Gala night, demonstration of the 3-days work results, presentation of the certificates about attending the event.
In this program, the activities, related to the theatre are not specified, because they must be prepared by the benefiters. They prepare their own educational program before the event, as well as they must confirm it with the project manager of the event. As this is the World Theatre Day event, all the activities are related to the theatre, but they must cover different fields, so that they predict different professionals. The activities sections could be split up according to the staging process:
- Play writing workshop.
- Master-class for theatre directors. Amateur theatre management.
- Master-class for theatre actors.
- Stage design. Amateur theatre promotion.
Each training or seminar would have its input section, but the majority of the time will be dedicated to the practicing and preparing art products for the gala night. The main idea of the workshops and other activities is to practice contemporary academic theatre technologies with the best world professionals. Every day is followed by the concluding or presentation session, which helps the participants back up all the information, evaluate each other and make a self-evaluation.
The first two days lack the festive moods, so the task of the person, responsible for decorations is to create this mood with the help of specific furniture in the hall, decoration of the art centre. As theatre is one of the most ancient kinds of art, the decorative attributes and accessories must include antiques among the furniture in the hall. However, the world is changing all the time and the technologies of theatre become modern, so there may be ranges of things, showing their evolution. There may be an antique chair right at the entrance, but the last one on the way to the stage hall should be a chair in high-tech style. The same principle will work with the pictures on the walls: a chronological range of reproductions of da Vinci’s masterpieces, moving to Monet’s impressionism, and finishing with Picasso’s, Dali’s, Andy Warhol’s, and Banksy’s reproductions.
There also might be sculptures, beginning with primitive anthropological sculptures and ending with those made up of trash. Such decoration will symbolize evolution and the significant meaning of changes of the world. In addition, the functional purpose of the decoration may serve as an exhibition or installation to fulfill the gaps in time for those, who came earlier and are made to wait for the beginning of the event.
Decoration manager may provide visual projections on the walls or the whole building (depends on the budget) together with the technical manager. There lines from Shakespeare, Moliere, Ibsen, Shaw etc. can be aired during the first day. During the second day of the event, it would be the best decision to make video series of the participants’ photos and key moments of the day one.
The process of entrancing the art centre will be supported by classical music and jazz on the first day, and more active music, such as pop or rock’n’roll, for leaving the first-day activities and the next two days. The first day music will create official and even formal, challenging and exalted atmosphere which will change into a friendlier one after the introduction. Such a shift will be suitable for the visual series, as well.
One of the essential things for creating atmosphere, after the visual and sound perception, is the smell. How does a theatre and theatre evolution smell? Some would say, theatre smells as dust, because one may associate it with the Shakespearian epoch and something old and mysterious, but dust is not the best attribute for successful event.
Every theatre performance is followed by presenting flowers to the actors. Flowers seem a better idea for installing smell into the theatre event. They have tender unobtrusive flavors, but it does not seem a good idea to place flowers in addition to all the sculptures, paintings and other attributes.
The best way in this case is to present the participants small bouquets of lilies and snowdrops in designed dell’arte mask-like vase, filled with hydrogel instead of water, so that nobody’s clothes can be spoilt. These flowers are not a rarity in early spring, so there will not be big problems with purchasing them, but the decorator must make an order in advance and it must be ready on March 25th morning to keep flowers fresh. So, the first day will associate with tender flowers, classical masterpieces of music, playwright, and visual art, mild jazz melodies and evasive aroma of spring.
As a part of decoration and style keeping, the staff of the event and volunteers must wear appropriate clothes. These should be dell’arte masks during welcoming at the entrance and the opening of the event and during the closing ceremony on the gala night. In addition, they must wear specific clothes. The best decision is to dress the staff in T-shirts with printed symbols of the event. They also should not wear sport clothes, but something casual to feel convenient, because they will have to move a lot. These might be jeans and sport shoes.
The most difficult part of the event is preparing a gala night and celebration party. It must have a well-written script, but the team cannot make it in advance, because it must be based on the results of the two-day work. When the participants have free time on March 26th evening, the script must be created and approved by the event team. It will consist of an official ceremony and a celebration party. To plan the official ceremony there must be a draft, containing a sketch version of the script. This might look like this:
16:40 – volunteers wear dell’arte masks and equal casual clothes. They welcome participants at the entrance to the art centre. Jazz sounds, as it was on the first day, to create an exalted ceremony atmosphere. Some participants (actors, who were curators during the two days and volunteers) are dressed as mimes and perform sculptures in the hall. There are no sculptures and paintings anymore, but the visual projections with the lines of famous playwrights on the walls.
17:00 – everybody takes seats. The moderator of the event (dressed the same as the volunteers) pronounces a small speech to thank to the sponsors and participants and announces the certification ceremony. S/he names the first group to perform the result of their three-day work.
17:30 – Group 1 short performance and certification. Volunteers present certificates, which confirm their attendance, and gifts to each participant. Each gift consists of a labeled eco-friendly bag, flash card in it, labeled with a symbol of the event, with the photos and promo videos, taken during three days by photographers; a dell’arte mask, a book of one of the famous playwrights, and printed promo materials.
17:45 – Group 2 short performance and certification.
18:00 – Group 2 short performance and certification.
18:15 – Group 3 short performance and certification.
18:30 – Group 4 short performance and certification.
18:45 – Group 5 short performance and certification.
19:00 – Group 6 short performance and certification.
19:15 – Certification of the benefiters, presenting gifts. Each benefiter pronounces a short speech.
19:45 – Moderator shows a funny video, which concludes the three-day period with the key moments of the event. S/he announces the ceremony closed and invites everybody to the hotel restaurant for celebrating the World Theatre Day.
The restaurant is in the nearby hotel, where the benefiters have their accommodation. If such a hotel does not have a restaurant, the caterer must prepare everything for the party in the hall of the art centre. It would be a bad idea to set the celebration party in a different place, because this may ruin the atmosphere. The best way is catering for art centre hall, so that participants will reach the destination in short time.
There should be convenient seats and several smorgasbords with different stand-up meals. The waiters offer different drinks. There are no tables, so that people have a possibility to mingle around and talk to as many participants as possible. The music is active. There is a place for those who would like to dance. There are no more activities for the guests, so they can relax and enjoy themselves until 02:00. Then, volunteers accompany benefiters to the hotel. In the morning, they should accompany them to the station or airport.
Once the celebration party starts, the PR manager and his assistants must provide media representatives with the same gifts, as all the participants have got; and sketch plans for the next year celebration. The next few days are determined for the event team in terms of public relations. They have to check if all the information is covered by the media representatives. It is essential to thank all the participants via e-mails and to cover the outcomes of the event in social media.
In general, the event is planned for a town or city local theatre community as a start for potential festival along with annual celebration of the World Theatre Day. It consists of three parts: educational sessions, ceremony and celebration. Local representatives of amateur theatre communities will attend the event to raise their knowledge about the contemporary theatre technologies and to improve their practical skills in the field.
The benefiters are the invited professionals of the world significance. They will train small groups and present products of their team work on the gala night. The conception of the event is evolution of the classical theatre to the contemporary theatre. This one is taken for the overall design of the event, visual (art evolution exhibition, visual projection), sound support (classical music, jazz, rock’n’roll), staff clothes (jeans and T-shirts combined with a dell’arte mask), and gifts (masks, printed books and flash cards). As the event is held for the first time, there are many threats. Most of them are related to the promotion and public relations, so the most massive part of planning the event is its PR campaign.
As a result of the event, different participants have different outcomes. Attendances share experience with people of their field; get the opportunity to be taught by the world known theatre figures; get the access to the contemporary theatre technologies; become a part of the World Theatre Day celebration; entertain one another.
Benefiters have a good opportunity to be promoted in media and become a part of a potential festival. The event team has an opportunity to establish an annual event and in case of good promotion – to bind other backside projects to this event. During the planning period, there is only one urgent point left – the scripts writing for the gala night, only because it depends on the flow of the event.