ASSITEJ World Congress 2024 Is Open: Photo Gallery & A Few Floating Thoughts

Published on 26 May 2024

A Reflection By Keiu Virro

Voices of a New World: 21st ASSITEJ World Congress and Performing Arts Festival 2024 (Cuba) is open! Here you can find a small photo gallery of the opening parade, which hopefully didn’t leave anyone cold (Cuba probably wears out the hot and cold jokes…!)

The following days will offer a diverse range different programmes for various participants, depending on their interests. In the meantime, I feel it is important, at least for me, to zone out of the events from time to time and take some time to reflect on what it is all about. We are, after all, united (perhaps obviously) by theatre for young audiences.

For the last few years, I have been a member of the jury for the Estonian Theatre Awards, which gives out the Young Audience Theatre Award. This, in turn, is why I have been passionate about the fact that young audiences are the most important target group.

I’ve verified this in the form of anecdotal evidence which offers human faces and feelings to what is happening within the field. I’ve considered the impact of performances on the target audience on sight because the embodied experience is impossible to underestimate – this is all about empathy and understanding. I have read studies that talk about the impact of theatre on young people of different ages.

All in all, it has only deepened the feeling that young audiences are the ones for whom theatre has the greatest positive impact – and they are the audiences for whom the people involved in ASSITEJ do their work. Theatre helps young people to broaden their emotional vocabulary, it strengthens young people’s empathy (and this is needed nowadays more than ever!), and offers a way of dealing with difficult situations and traumas in a safe way. And, of course, everything related to theatre is just a very pleasant way to spend time!

I have no doubt that this Congress will provide the next important steps to do all this even better and, of course, alongside all the work, it’s important… just to have a very pleasant time in good company.

And now to the photos of the parade, where, as far as I could see, everyone was having a really good time: