For the first time this year Italy is taking part in celebrations for World Theatre Day on 27 March with events and initiatives targeting young people in particular.

State broadcaster RAI3 will be transmitting a film on great actors and actresses of the past and there will be guided tours and discounted performances at theatres across the country.

The day also coincides with the day for student art and creativity and the education ministry has put together a special programme of events for schoolchildren with theatrical performances in Verona, Rome and Naples.

Poste Italiane SpA is issuing a special commemorative postmark for the occasion, which will be available to the public at participating theatres in 100 cities across the country.

World Theatre Day was established by the International Theatre Institute in Vienna in 1961 to promote theatre and the performing arts as an important instrument of education and social change. Each year a personality from the world of theatre is invited to share his or her thoughts on the spirit and purpose of the initiative. This year it is the turn of the British screen and stage actress Dame Judi Dench.