World Theatre Day 2012: Celebrating The 50th Anniversary (PHOTOS)

Today marks the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day. Do a quick search on Twitter for the hashtag #WTD2012 and troves of supporters' tributes to the holiday pop up. Journalist Jonathan Mandell, for example, Tweeted, "Happy Wor[l]d Theater Day. Theater, as we've come to know it, began some 2,500 years ago. #WTD2012 #2amt"

It is this recognition of the storied history of the stage, and those involved, that World Theatre Day aims to celebrate. The International Theatre Institute (a part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)) launched World Theatre Day in 1961 with the goal of uniting the world of theater through peace.

This year's theme is "Generation Without Borders." Through an essay contest UNESCO invited those in theater to explore how the art can connect people across the globe, posing the question, "What role can theatre play in replacing old divisions with a vibrant interdependence?"

Additionally, they asked people to submit videos to their YouTube channel delving into why "I AM THEATER." The channel already has 50 videos uploaded by the Theater Communications Group, U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute.

Each year, the Theatre Institute invites a well-known figure in theater to deliver a speech on the theme of theater and peace. This year, they got John Malkovich, who is known in the theater world for his work on 33 productions with the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, which he cofounded.

Read his speech:

May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do. May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life's work. And may the best of you - for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments - succeed in framing that most basic of questions, 'how do we live?' Godspeed.

Watch below for Malkovich's speech:

Click through below for some highlights from World Theatre Day on Twitter: