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Nicholas Viselli, Artistic Director of Theater Breaking Through Barriers, Delivers U.S. World Theatre Day Message

Nicholas Viselli, Artistic Director of Theater Breaking Through Barriers, Delivers U.S. World Theatre Day Message

The Global Theater Initiative invites all theatres, individual artists, institutions, and audiences to celebrate the 59th annual World Theatre Day on March 27, 2020. Each year, a renowned theatre artist is invited by the International Theatre Institute Worldwide in Shanghai to craft an international message to mark the global occasion. This year the International message has been written by Pakistani playwright Shahid Nadeem, and the U.S. World Theatre Day message has been given by Nicholas Viselli, artistic director, Theater Breaking Through Barriers. Both messages have been translated into multiple languages.

Read all the World Theatre Day messages here.

"Like all theatres and theatre-makers, Nicholas Viselli has pivoted his creativity to meet the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG. "Viselli's message of a truly inclusive theatre world, one that fully welcomes disabled artists, is a powerful match to Shahid Nadeem's international message, which called for us to draw upon the sacred powers of theatre. We hope these messages serve as inspiration to all culture-makers working across borders, especially during a time of social-distancing and border closures."

"In our engagement with the challenges of the present, we deprive ourselves of the possibilities of a deeply moving spiritual experience which theatre can provide. In today's world where bigotry, hate and violence is on the rise once again, nations seem to be pitted against nations, believers are fighting other believers and communities are spewing hatred against other communities... Theatre has a role, a noble role, in energizing and mobilizing humanity to lift itself from its descent into the abyss. It can uplift the stage, the performance space, into something sacred." - Shahid Nadeem, playwright and executive director of Ajoka Theatre

Since 1962, World Theatre Day has been celebrated by the circulation of the World Theatre Day Message. The first World Theatre Day international message was written by Jean Cocteau. Succeeding honorees have included Arthur Miller (1963), Ellen Stewart (1975), Vaclav Havel (1994), Ariane Mnouchkine (2005), Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi (2007), Augusto Boal (2009), Dame Judi Dench (2010), Jessica A. Kaahwa (2011) and Anatoli Vassiliev (2017). In 2019, the International World Theatre Message was given by Carlos Celdrán, and the U.S. World Theatre Message by Larissa Fasthorse, Ty Defoe, and Jenny Marlowe of Indigenous Direction.

To celebrate World Theatre Day 2020, GTI recommends sharing the international and U.S. messages on or around March 27 through online media; tweet about World Theatre Day using the hashtag #WorldTheatreDay; following TCG, The Lab, and ITI on social media platforms for updates and sharing World Theatre Day-related posts; and posting your own message to your network about World Theatre Day, championing the power of theatre to strengthen cultural exchange and mutual understanding across borders. Social handles for GTI: Facebook, Twitter; for TCG: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; for The Lab: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

TCG and GTI also urge you to take action by: signing up to receive TCG Action Alerts and contacting your elected officials regarding the need for COVID-19 relief and recovery funds, improved visa processing for international guest artists (Issue Brief), and increased funding for the Cultural Programs Division of the State Department (Issue Brief). TCG has also signed the "U.S. Performing Arts Sector Requests Assistance from USCIS and Department of State" for artist visa relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about World Theatre Day and GTI's international programming here.

Nicholas Viselli joined Theater Breaking Through Barriers in 1997 and is deeply humbled to continue the company's legacy, started by his predecessor, TBTB's founding Artistic Director, Ike Schambelan. As an actor, Nick has performed in over 30 TBTB productions during the past 23 years. He has also directed several plays for TBTB and has served as the company's sound designer, travel coordinator, administrative associate and Associate Director. He has attended nine International Theater Festivals for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Zagreb, Croatia as an actor and has served as the producer, director and key coordinator for the company during their festival appearances in 2009, 2011 and 2015 and 2019. In 2013 and again in 2017 he orchestrated, developed, produced and directed three special performances by TBTB, commissioned for the United Nations to commemorate the International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction and The International Day of People With Disabilities. In 2019, he organized and coordinated TBTB's appearance at the United Nations' Department of Disaster Risk Reduction's Global Platform in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2014, he produced and coordinated TBTB's 1st visit to Japan, when the company was invited to attend both the BIRD International Theatre Festival and Japan's National Festival for People With Disabilities. In 2017 and 2018, Nick orchestrated two subsequent tours to Japan, performing in several major Japanese cities during each visit. He is currently coordinating TBTB's 2020 International tours to Croatia, Uganda and Japan (during the 2020 summer Olympic/Paralympic games). He studied at the Royal National Theater in London with Richard Eyre, Patsy Rodenberg, Stephen Daldry, Simon McBurney, Stephen Warbeck and Sir Ian McKellan and is a graduate of Hofstra University.

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