World theatre day - Celebrating theatre from around the world

  • March 27, 2020
  • Theatre in Paris exclusives
  • Aysha Ferullo

Happy world theatre day, from our living room to yours. This is one of our favourite celebrations – it gives us a chance to reflect upon the vast variety of theatre the world has to offer, stemming from every corner of the globe. While we, of course, have a soft spot for the wonderful theatre scene that France has to offer, we’re also crazy about many other types of performance. Here are a few of our favourite forms of theatre and our top tips on which pieces to get stuck into this holiday.

Chinese Opera - China

Our first pick for international theatre that we love is Chinese Opera. You may have heard of Beijing Opera, one of the most universally recognised forms of Chinese Opera. What’s truly astonishing is that there are actually over 300 different styles of this ancient art form, dating back as far as 960. The years 960-1279 mark the Song Dynasty period, which is where this form of musical theatre developed. Chinese opera as we know it today incorporates martial arts, acrobatics, lavish costume, an array literary forms, as well as song and dance. It’s simply bursting with vibrancy! 

Our favourite Chinese Opera: The Drunken Concubine

Opera – Italy

We’re hopping back to Europe for our second pick and couldn’t possibly discuss opera without a nod to Italy. It’s no surprise that opera originated in Tuscany around 1600, with some of the most famous Italian opera composers being Tuscans themselves. Jacopo Peri composed the first opera in 1598, with Giacomo Puccini being the heart and soul behind Madame Butterfly in 1904. These works, along with those of Italian composers such as Verdi, Bellini and Donizetti, are still regularly being performed around the world today. 

Our favourite Italian opera: Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Book tickets to see an opera

Pantomime – United Kingdom

You can’t experience a true UK Christmas without going to see a panto – they’re a staple! Whether you love them or love to hate them, they’re a certain way to get you in the holiday spirit. The idea of a pantomime is to have the audience involved in the spectacle right along with the actors, making any pantomime you go to an utterly immersive experience. Pantomime originated in the 16th century, drawing inspiration from Italy’s commedia dell’arte, as well as 17th-century masques and music-hall. Pantomime, as we know it today, will typically take a well-loved tale or familiar story and transform it into an entirely new experience. 

Our favourite pantomime: Peter Pan

Noh Theatre – Japan

Possibly one of the best-known forms of Asian theatre in Europe, it’s 14th-century origin makes Japan’s Noh Theatre is one of the oldest forms of theatre in the world. The lavish makeup, costume, chanting and music juxtaposed with a bare, wooden stage is one of the defining features of Noh Theatre, another one being the lack of facial expressions – actors typically wear masks, and those who don’t keep a blank facial expression. A fan is also carried by all performers in Noh pieces, regardless of their role in the production, representing a variety of different key objects throughout the course of a performance. Noh Theatre is studied in schools and universities all around the globe, and for good reason! 

Our favourite piece of Noh Theatre: Matsukaze 

Puppet theatre - Russia

You’ve probably all been to a puppet show at some point, maybe you’ve even partaken in one! What’s interesting to consider is the Russian tradition of puppet theatre. While the precise origin of Russian puppet theatre is unknown (many people have noted similarities between Italian commedia dell’arte characters, while certain people believe it originated from Mongols travelling through China into Russia), what we do know is that it continues to hold great significance in the Russian theatre scene today. It’s interesting to note that as of current, this form of theatre is no longer strictly dedicated to children’s theatre – it has adapted to being for all ages. Many people believe that it is, in fact, the puppet that controls the actor, as opposed to the other way around, which is where the true magic of Russian puppet theatre lies!

Cabaret – France

We couldn’t possibly celebrate world theatre day without bringing it back to France. Cabaret is one of our all-time favourite forms of theatre. Cabaret is particularly known for its performance venue, whether it be casino, restaurant, nightclub or pub – cabaret dates back to 1881 with Le Chat Noir in Paris. There are many different forms of cabaret: Polish, German, American, British and Swedish, but there’s nothing quite like a French cabaret show. Theatre in Paris gives you access to an array of cabaret shows in the city, so have a browse and see one for yourself!

Our favourite cabaret: La Nouvelle Eve

Book tickets to see a cabaret show