My First ISTA Festival

14 March 2018

We asked ISTA students, teachers and artists from around the world to share with us the stories and memories of their first festival. This blog will be updated every time we receive a new story. Enjoy, and if you’d like to share yours please email it to

Roxanne Browne, ISTA Artist

I have nothing but positive feedback in regards to my first ISTA festival in Bangkok. From the incredible hosts to the lovely teachers, the willing and effortlessly open students and inspiring artists, it was a fantastic experience enriched with so much creativity and a real sense of community.

The students were welcomed, challenged and questioned in many artistic ways. Not only were they introduced to many different styles of theatre from artists who brought their own flair and culture to their craft but they experienced these new possibilities with likeminded people from different parts of the world. The workshops were full of play, cultural differences and similarities, questions, answers, discovery, exploration, comradery and laughter.

Students were able to explore a new way of thinking about theatre and with theatre. From working so closely with the other students, each student devised new work, learnt from one and another and shared an experience they’ll never forget. New friendships were formed, ideas about culture and beliefs were discussed, new theatrical techniques were taught and creativity was in abundance.

Overall, I believe the students walked away with a real sense of achievement, ownership of devised work, opportunities to explore more about theatre, a better understanding about different cultures, more confidence about being out of their comfort zone but more importantly this true sense of community. Likeminded, creative, open, welcoming, talented, inquisitive and fun people coming together to share stories and using theatre as a platform.

I look forward to my next one!

Georgia Munnion, ISTA Artist

I knew my knowledge and experience of Festivals as a student would prepare me well for my first gig as an ISTA artist and, naively, thought things wouldn’t have changed very much. How wrong I was! ISTA is ever-evolving and always embracing new ideas – of course things were going to change in 9 years!

I’ll never forget the conversation with the AD on the Festival and asking him at what point the students performed their pieces. He looked at me rather oddly, replying, “at the end, of course”. I thought that was very strange as, in my previous experience of ISTA, schools brought performances and performed them all at the start of the Festival. I realised then I had a lot to learn!

My first Festival as an ensemble leader is all a bit of a blur. I was swept up into a whirlwind of planning sessions, ensemble sessions, workshops, social events, an out and about, a final performance, and once it was all over I couldn’t quite believe what I’d experienced in three days. I remember sitting on the plane, flying home, and it all feeling a bit surreal. I also remember experiencing my first after-Festival slump; the feeling of not wanting to be back to ‘real life’ and missing the constant energy and creativity that a Festival provides. I still get the after-Festival slump…

You can find out more about our festivals here.