Lingen. What do Antalya, Copenhagen, Toyama (Japan), Moscow, Havana, Stratford (Canada) and Lingen / Ems (Lower Saxony) have in common? In all of these cities the World Festival of Children's Theater, which is being held every two years somewhere in the world, has already taken place. Every four years the festival comes back to its´ place of origin: Lingen, where it has first started in 1990. The countdown to this year´s festival has started: In 14 days from now, on June 22nd, the festival, which is being organized by the Center of Theater Education of the Emsland Landscape, will start with a Grand Opening.
The theme of this year's theater festival is "Children Move the World", which was proposed by a child from Lingen (Merlin Krieger, 9 years old), in a public competition.
Over 300 children from 5 continents and 19 countries will participate
Large opening event with around 2800 guests in the EmslandArena with the presence of many personalities, including country ambassadors from Berlin
The world´s only Children's Theater festival recognized by the International Amateur Theater Association (AITA / IATA) takes place every two years
"Almost 30 years ago, we did not expect that the festival would attract such an attention globally. The development of the festival makes it clear that the joint theater play with children from different cultural backgrounds makes a very important, peaceful contribution to international understanding,” says Norbert Radermacher, founder of this festival.
"What was started in Lingen 28 years ago is a unique success story in the field of amateur theater," outlines the President of the World Association for Amateur Theater IATA, Rob van Genechten. The concept was rolled out globally, because it was well received around the world: Children come together from all over the world to learn from each other, to have fun together and to exchange ideas and to grow stronger together. This success is our motivation to develop the festival further and to bring it to new countries," says President van Genechten.
More than 80 theater groups from five continents have applied to join this year's theater festival. 19 international groups with more than 300 children were nominated last year by an International expert jury. The groups come from: Armenia, Benin, China, Germany, El Salvador, Estonia, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Mexico, Paraguay, Zambia, Slovenia and Ukraine. During their time in Lingen, the children, who are in general between 8 and 18 years old, will mainly stay in host families.
"Children Move the World”, and therefore we see it as our task, especially in these times of political uncertainty to set a sign of cultural and international understanding. A peaceful coexistence in the world begins with the children, they meet each other and play together - without speaking the language of the other," says Dieter Krone, Mayor of City of Lingen. The city is next to public and private sponsors one of the main sponsors of the festival.
"Currently the preparations are in full swing. Around 140 children and young people from the dance, theater and circus groups of the Center of Theater Education are currently rehearsing for the performance during the grand opening ceremony on June 22nd, that will be presented in front of some 2,800 spectators. The choreography of all these groups will be a highlight of the event,” explains Nils Hanraets, artistic director of the festival. Next to others, the event will be moderated by the German nine-year-old girl Marlina Manriquez Windisch and nine-year-old Ward Aloyousef from Syria, who moved to Lingen two years ago. Similar to the Olympic Games the country delegations will march into the EmslandArena followed by a big parade through the city to the festival grounds. Embassy representatives will also be present at this celebration to personally greet and congratulate their country groups. The ambassadors of Armenia, Benin and Paraguay have already confirmed their attendance.
The theater plays, which the children will perform during the eight days festival program, will address very different topics. In many cases they are related to everyday issues, which concern the children. For example, in one piece from Benin, the education law is discussed and it is made clear to the audience that school education is nothing that is a naturally given present.
For the time of the festival, the area in front of the theater "An der Wilhelmshöhe" will be transformed into a "Park of Elements" - which is divided into different areas. There will be a creative zone, a zone for playing and relaxation and one for intercultural exchange. On the large OpenAir stage in the park, the "Stage of Elements", a diverse program will be offered especially by local music, theaters and dance groups. The access and all offers in the festival park are free of charge; Children, families and visitors of all ages are invited to discover it together with children from all over the world and to experience it with all their senses.
Lingen is a city with about 57,000 inhabitants in the Emsland (Lower Saxony) near the Dutch border. During the Festival the city expects around 30,000 to 40,000 visitors.
The Wada Asako Dancing Company from Japan presents a theater dance addressing the global warming issue.