Uniting Nations & Constructing Hope Through Theater: My Representation at the DIRECTORS in TYA Exchange

Oh yes, before embarking on this incredible journey, I must mention that I, Umair Mushtaq, had the honor of being the second person from Pakistan to be selected for this prestigious program from 1979 to 2023. Oh la la! Let’s dance!

I recently participated and represented The Little Art and ASSITEJ Pakistan in the transformative DIRECTORS in TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences), an international program dedicated to theatre for young audiences. This week long global gathering, organized by ASSITEJ Germany in collaboration with Hessisches Landestheater Marburg (HLTM) and ASSITEJ International, brought together 27 talented directors from 21 different countries.

The journey commenced with missing my connecting flight in Istanbul, followed by meeting two participants from South Africa and Australia who were also navigating the complex German train system. This resulted in a four-hour delay to reach our destination. After such travel and an exhausting experience, I arrived in Marburg, greeted by the surprise of a bright sunlight at 9:50 PM. This phenomenon wasn’t new to me but was indeed quite fascinating. Such unique daylight, while common here, was a captivating experience for someone like me from Pakistan where such occurrences are nonexistent. However, my hunger had to wait until the next day as food places were closed. Thankfully, a host friend came to the rescue with a pizza – the only available option at that time. The program began with a reflective session on how we constructed hope in our own childhoods.

Imagine a room filled with 27 theatre directors with more than 370 years of collective experience in the performing arts. Powerful!

Embracing Diversity:

The DIRECTORS in TYA Exchange wove together a vibrant tapestry of cultures, perspectives, and artistic visions. Directors from Mongolia, Canada, Norway, Newzealand, Croatia, South Africa, Serbia, Poland, and many other nations converged in the historic city of Marburg. Together, we celebrated the beauty of our differences, cultural practices, and artistic expressions, finding common ground in our shared love for the performing arts and young audiences. The exchange served as a testament to the power of unity amidst cultural diversity.

A Global Kaleidoscope of Ideas:

Throughout the program, thought-provoking discussions, interactive workshops, small group activities, and captivating theater performances allowed us to delve deep into the world of theater for young audiences. We had the opportunity to experience theatre plays in schools, black box theater, and open-air venues, gaining valuable insights into the operations and practices of Marburg’s theater groups dedicated to children and young audiences.

Hope as a Driving Force:

Hope permeated every aspect of the DIRECTORS in TYA Exchange. As directors, we explored the transformative power of hope, utilizing it as a foundation to navigate challenges, embrace optimism, and construct new possibilities on stage. Witnessing the profound impact that theater has on young audiences reaffirmed our shared mission to create meaningful and inspiring experiences.

About Marburg:

Marburg, a captivating city nestled in Germany, is renowned for its enchanting surroundings and deep connection to literature. As the birthplace of the Grimm brothers, Marburg holds a special place in the realm of fairy tales. Its medieval charm and half-timbered houses evoke the stories of old, including the timeless tale of Rapunzel, which seems to come alive within the walls of its ancient castle. Marburg’s fame extends beyond folklore, as it is also home to a historic university that has fostered intellectual pursuits for centuries. With its captivating blend of history, literary heritage, and picturesque landscapes, Marburg continues to enchant visitors with its timeless allure.


Umair Mushtaq