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By Pamela Udoka

The arts and mental health. Black Lives Matter (#blacklivematters)

July every year since 2008 has been designated as Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month. ASSITEJ International should lend its voice to this awareness creation. In tandem with the buzz around the world “Black Lives Matter”, it is instructive that the American Psychiatric Association holds the informed view that only one in three African Americans who need mental health care are able to get it. This is another example of how institutional segregation disadvantages on the basis of ‘race’. It has been shown that the arts are central to mental health and as TYA practitioners, we should be ensuring that children and young people who may be discriminated against in other spheres, have access to meaningful arts engagements to ensure their well-being, self-esteem and opportunities for healing.

The outcry against racism has been loudest in our times and several souls have been lost in its din. Labelled “minorities”, these groupings are put in a box and are forced to fit in no matter the shape of the box. This “boxing-in” has been in existence for centuries and the victims are consistently the blacks and other minorities who are gagged, choked, suffocated and traumatized. The quests by past and present Human Rights Activists and Civil Rights Movements have always been for each individual to be treated first and foremost as a human being. The latest of such is the civil unrest that arose after the unwarranted gruesome murder of George Floyd, a black American citizen on May 25, 2020, by the Police in Minneapolis, USA. The protest following this act was phenomenal as people defied the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and poured onto the streets. The movement has come to be known as BLACK LIVES MATTER (#blacklivematters) and has spread around the globe, while also resurrecting issues that border on racism.

The lumping of some minority groups into one amorphous and monolithic title of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC), is a deliberate statement on racial segregation and separation which groups all minorities as the “other” against a majority. ASSITEJ International, as a body should be conscious of the fact that not all groupings within our ASSITEJ International community are captured in this acronym. While efforts are being made to underscore the principle of inclusivity, we should not allow the lumping of minorities together to blur the lines of distinctness and uniqueness or allow it to prevent us from acknowledging the diversity of each individual and cultural group, without notions of superiority or inferiority.

There is no logic as to why any skin pigmentation should act as the trigger for racial inequality and the denial of human rights. The demands of the modern age include among other things a paradigm shift in thought processes and how we relate to each other as a human being first and foremost. There should be a conscious and deliberate effort expressed in words and in action and seen to be accommodating of others with varying (and presently stereotyped) skin pigmentations.

In terms of offices, appointments, placements, collaborations and casting, it should be intentional that the principle of inclusivity is adhered to within ASSITEJ International as a body and in all its activities. So, when the term inclusivity is used in the practice of TYA, it is not selective in definition, but inclusive in the real sense of the word and in every aspect of our undertakings without any racial bias, representing the many different cultures that unite in the world of makers of theatre for children and young people.

We should remember to avoid the triggers to negative mental health conditions in our theatre relationships, be these individual, inter-personal, institutional or organizational, as we navigate the new normal in the practice of TYA in the post COVID-19 era. We need each other and no group is sufficient to itself or superior to another. The COVID-19 pandemic has expressly taught us the lesson of our common humanity. Let ASSITEJ International intentionally raise an inclusive generation that fights any discrimination on the basis of so-called ‘race’.

Pamela Udoka

President, ASSITEJ Nigeria
Member, Executive Committee, ASSITEJ International
Theatre Artiste & Clinical Psychologist
Member, Nigerian Association of Theatre Arts Practitioners (mNANTAP)
Member, Nigerian Psychological Association (mNPA)
Member, Nigerian Association of Clinical Psychologists (mNACP)

ASSITEJ International news
ASSITEJ 2020 annual Magazine
"Towards the unknown, beginning the journey"

Editorsʼ Note

A little over a year ago, in April 2019, the Executive Committee met in Montevideo, Uruguay and we started planning the 20th ASSITEJ World Congress and Festival in Japan, in May 2020. With the Japanese team, we discussed timelines, calls for performances, symposia, and workshops, and the call for the magazine. We discussed a working plan, and how the ASSITEJ General Assembly and the Artistic Encounter could fit into the MIRAI Festival. We started thinking about communication and promotion. How to feature the networks and the Next Generation. We looked at the amount of days, at registration tiers, ticket prices. The Japanese team started working on grant proposals, and booking venues and hotels.

All of the above, and more, continued at the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering in Kristiansand in September, and the ASSITEJ EC Meeting in Quimper, France, in December. In Quimper, the magazine articles were selected and edited, and prepared to be sent to Japan for translation. The final selection of performances, symposia, and workshops were discussed, and schedules were proposed.

In short, we were all excitedly gearing up to meet in May in Tokyo...
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ASSITEJ Coffee Sessions in August


August 7th
Inclusivity & Diversity in National Centres

National centres of ASSITEJ and their members are welcome to join this session to discuss the important theme of how we promote inclusivity and diversity in our national centres, and in the work that our members produce.

Date: 7 August 2020
Time: 13h00 – 15h00 (SA Standard time, please find here the time in your region)

Language: English
Register here

August 24th and 25th
Manifesto – final collaboration

These two meetings will engage with the global membership and finalise the manifesto for launching on 1 September 2020, as well as engaging around the action points to be taken.

Meeting A
(time zones: Africa, Europe, the Americas)

Date: 24 August 2020
Time: 16h00 – 18h00 (SA Standard Time, please find here the time in your region)

Language: English. Translations into Spanish & French by volunteers.
Register here

Meeting B (time zones: Asia, Oceania, Africa, Europe)

Date: 25 August 2020 Time: 8h00 – 10h00 (SA Standard Time, please find here the time in your region)

Language: English
Register here

ASSITEJ Draft Manifesto

As the global pandemic of Covid 19 grew, affecting new populations every day, it became clear that access to art and culture for children and families, as well as the possibility for artists to practice their craft in dignified conditions, was being seriously jeopardized by the situation.

During the many online encounters organized by ASSITEJ from May on, under the label of “ASSITEJ Coffee Sessions”, deep concerns were raised by the participants about the consequences of the crisis, and the perspectives of a general setback for the whole performing arts for children and young people sector. This threat is already becoming a reality through the massive development of young people’s exposure to online media, in a context of widespread isolation, which breaks the logic of social exchange and communication carried by schools and performances attendance. It also strikes most artists, venues and festivals for young audiences, which are traditionally among the most fragile and the least supported by public authorities.

Written collectively, with contributions from hundreds of hours of Coffee Session participants, this manifesto is being designed to bring the voices of children and artists to every country in the world. ASSITEJ invites everyone to contribute to it. While the document is still in process, before being adopted by the organisation, we are posting it here to facilitate comments and feedback.

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News from around the World
ASSITEJ Australia

A divided Australia

What an extraordinary time for us all. In Australia, we find ourselves divided in many ways: some obvious and new with the pandemic – others like racism too familiar and very deeply ingrained across the whole of our society.

In the midst of this pandemic we find lines drawn harshly between states and territories as different jurisdictions respond. Many new cases have presented across Melbourne in Victoria and we are now re-entering six weeks of restricted movements when we’re only permitted to leave the house for essential reasons. However, across the rest of Australia, many have begun to go back out into suburbs, towns and cities. Some of us are occupied with how to stay safe at home, and simultaneously there are many who are considering safety of re-opening theatres and re-starting activities.

Photo : Evgeni Tcherkasski

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CBTIJ/ASSITEJ Brasil


CBTIJ/ASSITEJ Brasil Coffee Sessions

As a desirable and totally pertinent continuity to the Coffee Sessions promoted by ASSITEJ International, CBTIJ/ASSITEJ Brasil has been holding a series of national and regional online meetings. These are meetings that are in line with the expansion project of our national center, which, in pre-pandemic times, suffered from the limitation of mobility fundings and the huge geographic distances among the largest Brazilian cities. Important regional centers and state capitals with intense cultural and artistic production, especially in the Northeast, North and Midwest regions, remain underrepresented in our association. 

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30th Anniversary of Brazil’s Statute of Children and Adolescents – an interview with Gabriela Romeu

By Leo Carnevale – Actor and clown, member of the Board of Directors of CBTIJ/ASSITEJ Brasil.

Leo Carnevale  Let’s talk about childhood and youth, with a special look at ECA – Statute of Children and Adolescents.

Gabriela Romeu — I appreciate the invitation to speak about an important milestone in the history of childhood in the country. I arrived at the Folha de São Paulo newspaper newsroom in the late 1990s, and since then I have been able to follow how society has been impacted by the creation of ECA."

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News from ASSITEJ Chile
The (un)limited culture

We have been in confinement for 115 days, there are an estimated 6,800 deaths and the infection curve seems to be dropping. We know that we cannot be too happy, that we will have to stay in our homes for a long time. Meanwhile, we workers in the world of art and culture are adrift, led by a Ministry that seems to be deaf to the needs of a sector that does not appear on the state’s radar.

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ASSITEJ Pakistan

TYA Forum – Current Pandemic and the Future

Organized by ASSITEJ Pakistan and Theatre I Entertainment Trust India

The current pandemic has shaped various challenges for theater for young audiences. TYA being already marginalized, relatively small and challenging to produce, the current situation has made it more difficult. From our basic needs to adequate resources to create art, we need to understand challenges, think collectively and find solutions for the new normal of the world of children and young people.

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ASSITEJ Korea

ASSITEJ Korea International Summer Festival, Seoul becomes Online Festival

ASSITEJ Korea has originally programmed 11 theatre plays from 8 different countries and a theatrical collaboration among Korea, China, and Japan. Unfortunately, most of the states are on lockdown and close their borders due to the COVID-19.

Current circumstances tend to make us difficult to invite international performers and organize international festival as we used to do. Instead, we have organized a digital program from 15th to 25th of August : under the slogan of “CONTACT + UNTACT”.

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ASSITEJ Germany


Class, gender, race: a progressive glossary of thoughts

FRATZ International is the only festival nationwide held especially for participants aged zero to six, always accompanied by a symposium.

This year, the FRATZ 2020 symposium chose as its directing themes class. gender. race. asking, how do we represent class, race, gender for the very young? At this moment of wished-for social transformations while dialogues intensify and although inequalities keep growing? And we thought it could be useful to stop on some of the terms we use and make them more visible, defining the cosmos we move in, to find a common ground before the 2020 Symposium takes place. 

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Directors in TYA 2021: Call for Applications

In 2021 DIRECTORS IN TYA – An International Exchange will take place from June 20-27th 2021 at Junges! Staatstheater Braunschweig

You can find the call for applications and the application form here. Every ASSITEJ-Center is invited to nominate one director from their respective country to take part. Please send in their application including the signed application form, a current concise curriculum vitae and a letter of motivation by e-mail to ASSITEJ Germany (m.fechner@kjtz.de) no later than October 1st 2020.

The idea of a “Planet B” will be the starting point of our work: As humans we make plans and if one plan does not turn out, we come up with another, an alternative, a Plan B...

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20 mini-dramas for new formats in four languages

News from the German Publisher Korn-Wimmer in Munich: Homebound

20 mini-dramas for new formats in four languages

By: Sophie BlomenMax ReinigerBjörn BoströmDidem YıldırımLinda A. CarsonTomáš ČorejZuzana FerenczováMilan GatherLiv HeløeRichard HurfordPiret JaaksElif KaraosmanBurcu KüçükoğluSarah Leblanc-GosselinGiuditta MingucciKathrine NedrejordLaurence PeacockAnaïs PellinJens RaschkeGökçe ŞahinOlivier SylvestreAnna Wenzel

Regardless of the young protagonists’ very different reactions towards their changed situation, they all have one thing in common: they already cannot stand lockdown anymore. 22 international playwrights created 20 different small worlds, which are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but also mostly hopeful and always touching. They put on display the circumstances of young people in what probably are the strangest times of the 21st century so far.

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ASSITEJ Spain


Meeting of Dramaturgy for Children and Youth

The current pandemic situation has forced us to postpone the II Conference on Drama for Children and Young People to July 2021, but ASSITEJ Spain continues to be committed to the artistic meeting that allows us to debate the current situation of drama for young audiences.

For that reason, we will meet next Thursday 23rd July with the Mexican playwright Maribel Carrasco and the Spanish playwright Itziar Pascual, who will have a virtual dialogue on writing for children. With them, we will analyze the perspectives and the future of the playwriting that is about to arrive on both shores.

The Meeting will take place through Zoom (18:00 Spanish peninsular time; 11:00 Mexican time), and it will be necessary to register in advance (limited capacity).

This event is organized together with other five associations: TTP, TeVeo, AAT, UNIMA, ENT-NAE.

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Open the artistic call for the 32nd edition of Mostra d'Igualada

The 32nd edition of Mostra d’Igualada will be held from 15th to 18th April 2021.

The artistic call for companies is open until the 15th of August; and it is addressed to national and international shows, of any kind, aimed at children or young people.

In autumn, the Festival will also open a line of support for the production of shows in the areas of large format, new dramaturgies, scenes for young people and cooperation between companies from different territories. 

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Photo exhibition
International Theatre Competition "Theatre Exposed"

The International theatre competition is being held for the third time and we are pleased that it was supported by such an organization as Assitej. This year, the United States planned the opening of the International Photo Exhibition “Theater Exposed-2020”. But life made its painful adjustments, and the exhibition opened online on the project’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/157152981673728/?ref=bookmarks

This year, the International Expert Jury updated its membership. It includes famous and honored photo artists Yuri Mechitov (Georgia), Helena Vilt (Estonia), Elena Martynyuk (Russia-Ukraine), Sergey Zhdanovich (Belarus), Izya Shlosberg (USA), Angelo Consentino (Italy), Ariel Cecilio Lemus (Cuba), Jovan Vidakovich (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

All of them had to work hard, since 240 people from 15 countries of the world (Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Russia, Nigeria, Malawi, Croatia, Serbia, Moldova, Great Britain, Poland, Kazakhstan). Moreover, 96 percent took part in this contest for the first time!

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