Monday, June 17, 2019

ASSITEJ International Congress and Festivals: Memories from Norway and Korea

I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my personal experiences attending the last four ASSITEJ International Congress and Festivals spanning thirteen years. It is important to note that with each international conference I’ve attended there has been really great theatre and theatre that’s not so great. Each festival however, held in a different part of the world, has provided unique experiences.   At some I have been inspired by great work, at others I’ve discovered rich cultures.  Some festivals have been about reconnecting with colleagues, and others have helped me focus on future generations. When all the elements come together it can be an unforgettable experience.

-Megan Ann Rasmussen, President of TYA/USA

Tromso, Norway 1999

My first festival was in the Northern part of Norway in the town of Tromso.  I was a graduate student of the then President of ASSITEJ, Harold R. Oaks, and part of Brigham Young University’s “Young Company”. We were invited by the festival to perform our production of David Saar’s “The Yellow Boat”.  For the first time my eyes were opened to the theatre for young audience international scene.  I witnessed incredible theatre.  I was thrilled to see actors, at the top of their craft, who had dedicated their lives to making great theatre for children.  I met people from around the world who share a deep-seated passion for what they do. Theatre for Young Audiences became, for me, more than just entertainment.  I came to realize it as a powerful tool for changing lives.  It was after this experience that I set the direction of my career—dedicating my efforts to the field of Theatre for Young Audiences.

The cast and crew of Brigham Young University’s Young Company with David Saar following their performance of David Saar’s “The Yellow Boat” at the ASSITEJ Congress and Festival in Tromso, Norway.

Seoul, Korea 2002

In Seoul I was excited to see the rich culture represented by this part of the world.  Never before had I seen so much Asian theatre in one setting. I was interested to learn of the concentrated effort of Kim Woo Ok and the Korean theatre community to tell their native stories on stage rather than interpret European-based fairy tales. The Korean landscape was equally impressive.  Optional congress-organized excursions took us to the Korean Folk Village while some colleagues ventured to the Korean Demilitarized Zone on the boarder of North Korea and others took in the history of Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

What are your memories?

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    1. I remember so many things from Norway, including sitting near David Saar during your performance of THE YELLOW BOAT and sobbing my eyes out. It was my first international conference as well, and hopefully not my last. I was blown away by the diversity of creativity coming from so many people dedicatd to TYA. I still talk about the show (I’m not sure the title at the moment) with the giant nude woman balloon giving birth to the characters on stage. I loved that, but I remember it caused a huge discussion of what is and what is not considered theater appropriate for children.

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