ASSITEJ Awards Ceremony

Published on 31 May 2024

ASSITEJ Awards 2024

Being associated with two of the lifetime achievement awardees, I was keen on writing a long emotional article about how I looked up to them even before I met them but being on the ground attending the ceremony filled my heart with inspiration. From the 3 Write Local. Play Global (WLPG) Inspirational Playwright Award to the 2 International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network (ITYARN) Scholar Award and the 6 Lifetime Achievements Awards.

The Write Local. Play Global. Inspirational Playwright Award was quite an inspiring one that celebrated three inspiring women –

Mamby Mawine, a Senegalese artist who has fulfilled her dreams, empowered her community to dream and continues to do so today. Her next project aims to bring together Senegalese artists wishing to work with young audiences, and to help them advance the cause of culture and performing arts for children and young people in Senegal by working on dramaturgy.

Mirna Sakhleh, an exceptional Palestinian playwright, actor, director, and producer who has been indispensable at Al-Harah Theatre in Bethlehem. One of the hallmarks of her work is the extensive research she does to make sure all the facts and information are correct, especially when writing about Palestine.

Sudanese political prisoner now living in Australia and writing poetry and TYA plays, Afeif Ismail accepted the award on her behalf and in her message, she appeals “to my [her] fellow writers, artists, and storytellers, I issue a call to action. Let us use our pens to bear witness to the untold stories of suffering and resilience that emerge from the ashes of war, all wars.”

Tijana Grumic, a young playwright whose work has already established her as an influential figure in Serbia and the region. While on this mission of leading the charge for change, she uses brilliant and emotional stories to captivate her audience and currently exploring new forms of theatre that emerge with new generations.

It was now time for the second Geesche Wartemann Emerging Scholars Award initiated by the International Theatre for Young Audiences Research Network (ITYARN) awarded to two emerging scholars who are now board members of ITYARN.

Margot Wood is a PhD candidate at the University of Cape Town in The Aesthetics of Theatre for Young Audiences with neurological, cognitive and sensory challenges. She is the Artistic Director and founder of Storywood Children’s Theatre, that is currently planning an Inclusive Arts Festival to be held in March 2024 featuring performances for audiences with complex needs. This will include audiences with ASD and PMLD, cognitively challenged audiences, as well as blind and deaf audiences.

Dr. Katherine Morley is an associate researcher at the University of Manchester, UK and researcher in residence at The Egg, Royal Theatre Bath. Her recent research focus of relative silence and relative stillness within spectatorship for Theatre for Early Years, was supported by AHRC and received a President’s Doctoral award. Katherine recently contributed to Mapping Research: A map on the aesthetics of performing arts for early years.

And finally, the most awaited moment (for me), Lifetime Achievement Awards. More so when I found out who the other 4 people were! Below, I have tried my best to summarise their contributions in the shortest way possible.

Vicky Ireland has been ground breaking from the outset of her career, as a member of the first Theatre- in-Education team at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. She has always been at the forefront of progress in making work for children. Vicky started the charity Action for Children’s Arts in 1989, reaching out across art forms to make the voice for children’s arts stronger and finally, the reason I am so strongly associated with ASSITEJ, she co-founded the International Inclusive Arts Network with Daryl Beeton in 2011.

Sookhee Kim, another warm and welcoming soul I met 9 years ago. As the founder and director of the Korea Children’s Culture & Arts Centre (KCCAC), she has been creating exemplary work for children for the past three decades. After her 15-year career at the KCCAC, she was elected to serve as President of ASSITEJ Korea. Another important contribution to Korean TYA by Sookhee KIM is the revival of the publication of The ASSITEJ Korea Journal. She also created ‘Street Festival for Children’ for the first time in Korea. All these efforts led to Jongno District being certified by UNICEF as a child-friendly city in 2017.

Kim Peter Kovac, another jolly, funny and inspiring soul! During his tenure as Artistic Director at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. he not only commissioned and produced over one hundred new plays for young audiences, but he also co- founded New Visions/New Voices, the groundbreaking incubator for new plays for young audiences. He is the co-founder of Write Local Play Global and has curated many of its playwright slams throughout the years.

Halina Machulska began her work as a director while she was still a student at the Directing Department of the National Theater Academy. She also initiated the establishment of the Polish ASSITEJ Center, having been its long-time president since 1982. In 2014, thanks to the initiative of Halina Machulska, Warsaw became the organizer and host of the 18th ASSITEJ World Congress. In 1994, it established the KORCZAK International Festival of Theaters for Children and Young People, one of Poland’s largest theater festivals aimed at children and young people.

Professor Zoja Mikotová, MA is an important Czech director and lecturer in higher education. For thirty years, she led the Studio of Educational Theatre for the Deaf (Ateliér výchovné dramatiky pro neslyšící) at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts (JAMU). Zoja Mikotová’s work not only “opens the world of children to adults and the world of adults to children,” but also connects the world of the Deaf to the world of the hearing and the world of the hearing to the world of the Deaf.

Vijay Padaki is a Theatre Educator based in Bangalore.  Vijay joined Bangalore Little Theatre in 1960, the year of its inception, and later served the company in many capacities – as actor, director, trainer, writer, designer and administrator, including stints as Secretary and President. Vijay has been responsible for institutionalizing several activities of BLT. Among them has been the Children’s Theatre programme, which includes the annual flagship TYA play as a partnership production to support a charity.

Feel the goosebumps through the video of the awards ceremony below!