The Theatre Olympics was established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, on the initiative of the famous Greek theatre director, Theodoros Terzopoulos. TO is an international theatre festival, which is presenting some of the achievements of the greatest theatre practitioners from around the world. It is a platform for theatrical exchange, a gathering place for students and masters, where a dialogue despite ideological, culture and language differences is encouraged. Moreover, as its subtitle suggests, Crossing Millennia, it is an initiative that emphasizes the importance of connecting the past, present, and future together. For this reason, the festival is promoting richness and diversity of theatre heritage and also all kinds of experiments and research in the field of performing arts. The goal of the TO is to strengthen and re-establish the statues of contemporary theatre in the world. This objective is achieved by contributing to the growth of international collaboration, building a network among artists all over the world and, creating an opportunity for the host of the festival to showcase and promote their work in theatre and other performing arts.
The first official meeting of the International Committee of TO took place on the 18th of June, 1994 in Delphi, Greece. The founding committee was a group of eight internationally renowned theatre directors: Theodoros Terzopoulos, Nuria Espert, Antunes Filho, Tony Harrison, Yuri Lyubimov, Heiner Müller, Tadashi Suzuki and Robert Wilson. According to their decisions the TO is a non-profit organization. Its administrative headquarters are located in Athens, Greece (European office) and in Togamura, Japan (Asian office). Moreover, the International Committee of TO meets once a year. It can attract new members, on the condition of gaining at least two-thirds of the votes and being recommended by one of the existing members. The TO has its one logotype, which was designed by the American theater stage director, Robert Wilson.
Currently the International Committee of TO consists of fourteen members:
- Theodoros Terzopoulos (Greece) - chairmen
- Tadashi Suzuki (Japan)
- Robert Wilson (United States)
- Wole Soyinka (Nigeria)
- Yuri Liubimov (Russia)
- Tony Harrison (Great Britain)
- Ratan Tiyam (India)
- Nuria Espert (Spain)
- Giorgio Barberio Corsetti (Italy)
- Georges Lavaudant (France)
- Antunes Filho (Brazil)
- Jurgen Flimm (Germany)
- Choi Chy-Rim (South Korea)
- Liu Libin (China)
- Heiner Müller (1929-1995) (Germany) was a founding member of TO.
The TO each time is held in a different country. So far there have been five festivals and, except from one, took place in the countries of the members of the International Committee of TO. An International Committee member, who represents the host country, has the honor to be responsible for its artistic directing. In addition, he also has to establish the national organizing committee, consisting of prominent representatives of the country’s cultural life.
The hosting cities have been:
|City / Country||Year||Title||Artistic Director||Number of Productions||Number of Countries||Additional Information|
|Delphi, Greece||08.1995||Tragedy||Theodoros Terzopoulos||9||7||The first, inaugurating edition was focused around a Greek tragedy.|
|Shizuoka, Japan||16.04-13.06 1999||Creating Hope||Tadashi Suzuki||42||20||For the occasion of the second edition, the organizers created an art village in the Japanese industrial city, Shizuoka, which was designed by the famous architect, Arata Isozaki. The Performing Arts Center (SPAC) was also founded.|
|Moscow, Russia||21.04–29.06 2001||Theatre for the people||Yuri Liubimov||97||32||The third edition was organized in collaboration with the Chekhov International Theatre Festival. It gained around a million viewers. A special recognition gained a large-scale outdoor program The Street Theatres Program, where 40 theaters from 15 countries were presented.|
|Istanbul, Turkey||10.05–05.06 2006||Beyond Borders||Dikmen Gurun||38||13||The fourth TO was joint-festival with the fifteenth International Istanbul Theatre Festival (IITF), led by the Turkish artistic director of the IITF, Dikmen Gürün.|
|Seoul, South Korea||25.09-07.11 2010||Sarang - Love and Humanity||Choi Chy-Rim||48||13||During the fifth edition Seoul presented itself as “the city of culture and the arts”. The festival’s objective was to remind about the role of theater and its contributions into the process of globalization.|
|Beijing, China||2014||Dream||Zhang Yimou||47 ||22||The sixth edition of Theatre Olympics was focused around the theme "Dream". The main theme was divided into three parts: "In Memory of the Classics," "Vitality and Creativity" and "Audiovisual Feast." |
|Wrocław, Poland||2016||Theatre Olympics in the European Capital of Culture|
|New Delhi, India||2018||The Flag of Friendship||Ratan Thiyam||465||35||The Olympics are being held in 17 different cities, with opening ceremony in New Delhi and closing ceremony in Mumbai|
- Jae Kyoung Kim,: International Theatre Olympics: exchanging national traditions and leading new trends in theatre. University of Georgia, 2012.
- International Committee of the TO, Theatre Olympics: Crossing Millennia, Athens, 1994
- Instytut Grotowskiego Wrocław