20 March 2013



What is the value of theatre in the lives of children and young people?

Much has been written about the value of the arts, and important work is being done across the globe in researching the powerful effects of the arts on children through studies in neuroscience, neuro-education, developmental psychology and related fields. But as much as we can try to measure the impact of what we do, there is also a level at which the impact of art on its audience remains mysterious and unquantifiable. It is the profound and unique meeting of the theatre piece with the audience in a particular time and space that makes theatre so unpredictable and exciting.

Recently I was reminded of the saying, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in the seed.” The impact of the theatre experience on children and young people may be impossible to measure precisely, but I believe that it is potent in containing the seeds for countless numbers of apples.

Pieter-Dirk Uys, a celebrated actor and writer in South Africa, who works with under-privileged children in the little village of Darling, tells the story of a time he took a group of children on an outing to the city. He was driving the bus up the long hill out of the village, when he noticed that the little boy on the front seat next to him was getting increasingly tense. As they reached the top of the hill, and the little boy could see the road stretching out in front of him and the sea in the distance, he exclaimed in wonder and relief, “There’s more!” I believe that those of us who make theatre for children and young people are doing it for that precise reason – to awaken in every child the understanding that there is, indeed, “more”. And more. And more.

So when we make theatre for children and young people we are both seeding immeasurable potency and providing the immediacy of discovering “more” – more of joy, laughter, curiosity, the sudden realisation, the shift in perception, the tears of empathy, the sense of wonder and of deep absorption. More of what it means to be alive.

Join us in celebrating the World Day for Theatre for Children and Young People 2013 through the “Take a Child to the Theatre Today” campaign. Who can count the apples in the seed you will be planting?



I am not a poet, an actress, or a director, I don’t sing, I don’t compose, I don’t even dance!

So who am I, and why have I been given the honor this year to write the Croatian message celebrating the World Day of Theater for Children and Young People? I was merely an “unusual” organizer of something very, very large: larger than a city, larger than man, but not larger than children, to which for 52 years it has been fully dedicated.

And that large something begins on a Saturday, in a city by the sea (its name is Šibenik), in a square in front of the cathedral where after flags are raised, all that stage magic is generated, which then rolls along through others squares and streets of the magnificent old town all the way to the theater.

How much drama, enjoyment, and dancing have been seen by the mute Gothic heads on the Šibenik cathedral during these 52 years! The heads have met actors from all theaters for children from Croatia, Europe, and the world, seen the dances of children from distant Africa, rung with the drums of Japanese children – in fact witnessed children playing from all over the world.

How much theatrical magic has passed through the souls and eyes of the thousands and thousands of children who have for more than half a century made pilgrimage to this Festival!

The girl with the huge eyes who cried because of the lamb at the first Festival in 1958 today is a grandmother and takes her grandchildren to the new Festivals. In this way, a circle has been closed, but many others have opened. That is how it should remain, for the next 50 years at least, and the next hundred and fifty! The Festival is a yearly season of joy and celebration, and an ode to theater for children, that amazing, exciting, and irreplaceable world of art through which children grow finer, resulting in better little – big people!

Some will say – I always go on about the Festival (the best Festival in the world!) but how can we celebrate the World Day of Theater for Children without talking about the International Children’s Festival, and so we celebrate for many reasons!

I congratulate all my small and large children on the World Day of Theater for Children and Young People with the wish that they remain children as long as possible.


Jasenka Ramljak

Longtime director of the International Children’s Festival



‘Shakespeare once wrote ‘The play’s the thing…..’ And he was right, but not entirely right, actually! The story’s the thing, and the play is simply the most powerful way of telling it.

I discovered why only the other day. I went to meet the new cast of the play of ‘War Horse’ (a story that has been both a book and a film of course). Around me as I told stories of Devon and farming and the First World War, were 40 or so actors coming together for the first time to make a play. So not one person telling a tale (which is what I usually do) but a huge company bringing heart and soul and all their considerable emotional energy, their intellect and acting talents to make a show that will entrance and horrify, rock audiences to laughter, move them to tears. Every show (and they will play to tens of thousands of children and young people), they will endeavour to make unforgettable.

The power of theatre, whether for young or old, lies in the collaboration of stories and ideas, the actors (and everyone back stage too of course) and most importantly the audience – we all make the play together, live it together, suspending disbelief together, bound in the same imaginative endeavour.

For young people, coming to the theatre for the first time, the effect is electrifying, utterly compelling. It is live in front of their eyes, the story, the spectacle, the music, the lighting, the movement, the sound, the actors.  Such an experience can change young lives. It informs and enriches us all.’


Día Mundial del teatro para niños y jóvenes 2013

Mensaje de Michael Morpurgo

Shakespeare una vez escribió: “La obra es la cuestión…” Y tenía razón, ¡pero no del todo, realmente! La “historia” es la cuestión, y la obra es simplemente la forma más poderosa de contarla.

Yo descubrí el porqué recién el otro día. Fui a encontrarme con el nuevo elenco de la obra “War Horse” (una historia que ha sido al mismo tiempo un libro y una película, por supuesto). Alrededor mío, mientras yo contaba historias de Devon y de las granjas y de la Primera Guerra Mundial, había cuarenta actores aproximadamente, reunidos por primera vez para hacer la obra. Así que no era sólo una persona contando una historia (que es lo que yo suelo hacer), sino una enorme compañía poniendo su corazón y su alma y toda su energía emocional, su intelecto, su talento, para hacer un espectáculo que suba a escena y horrorice, mueva al público la risa, que emocione hasta las lágrimas.  En cada función (y ellos actuarán para miles y miles de niños y jóvenes) ellos tendrán que esforzarse para que sea inolvidable.

El poder del teatro, ya sea para jóvenes o viejos, descansa en la colaboración de historias e ideas, actores (y todos los que trabajan detrás del escenario también, por supuesto) y lo más importante, el público_ todos hacemos la obra juntos, la vivimos juntos, juntos dejamos de lado la incredulidad y nos unimos en un mismo esfuerzo imaginativo.

Para los jóvenes que vienen al teatro por primera vez, el efecto es electrizante, terriblemente fascinante. Hay vida frente a sus ojos, la historia, el espectáculo, la música, las luces, el movimiento, el sonido, los actores. Esa experiencia puede cambiar sus jóvenes vidas. Nos informa y nos enriquece a todos.