The chronicle of the ‘out and about’
By Randy Moss
I took my theatre students to my first ISTA festival at ISB (Bangkok) in 1995. My co-chaperone was the MS principal. During the meeting, future festivals were discussed and my principal said: ‘ISB Beijing would love to host a festival next year’. I just about fell out of my seat! ISB (Bangkok) was a huge new campus with tons of space and excellent performance venues. At the time, ISB (Beijing) was housed at the Lido Holiday Inn and the facilities were very limited.
Next thing I knew, Pat faxed. A date was set and I had the task of planning a festival for 100 visiting students in a very limited space. The issue of not knowing how to run a festival was solved much the way it is today. Pat put me in touch with a mentor (Doug Bishop) who walked me through each step. There were three things I knew for sure. I knew very little about hosting a festival, I had to deal with our lack of facilities and, perhaps most importantly, getting a visa to China at the time was not easy and if folks were going to go to the effort of getting one, I wanted them to experience China.
Plato said: ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. I decided to deal with space and the experiencing China issues by having ensemble sessions on the Great Wall and in the Forbidden City. Every ensemble group spent a day at each location and on the final day we used these experiences to create ensemble performances. Twenty-five year later, I can still remember how full my heart was as I watched these final pieces.
This invention out of necessity became a win, win, win. ISB (Beijing) decided at that point that performance and workshop spaces would have high priority in the design of the new campus. For ISTA it represented the birth of the ‘out and about’ which is still going strong today and is a key feature of the ISTA experience. Doug’s mentorship led to a lifelong friend. And the next year, Pat faxed and asked me to join the ensemble leader team for ISTA.
Almost 25 years later, ISTA continues to evolve, to meet necessity with invention, and to mentor festival hosts and teachers. It is still an organisation that values cultural experience and exchange, friendship and innovation.