My ISTA festival experience

27 February 2024

📍 Windhoek middle school festival, Namibia

Submitted by student participant, Raheel, from the International School of Kenya

This year, 16 students from the International School of Kenya went to Windhoek, Namibia, for an International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) theatre festival from the 1st to the 6th of February, accompanied by our teachers Ms. Robin Willis and Mr. Jay Hart.

The ISTA theatre festival explores, through theatre, how we can tune into ourselves and the ancient stories of the land that we work on. ISTA festivals provide young people the opportunity to engage in an intensive collaborative theatre process with professional theatre artists and other young people from around the world. Students participate in workshops, intensive theatre training, and finally create an original piece of theatre with an ensemble.

The ISTA festival that we attended was centered around a famous story from the native San tribe from Namibia about how they got fire from the selfish ostrich. A gentleman named Freddie from the San Tribe narrated the story in his native language as well as in English. He also taught us a song, which we sang in our final performance, and a dance to go with the song. We all had an amazing time getting to work with the land and also work outdoors.

Through the theatre, we managed to get connected with this story on a personal level, helping create different additions to the final performance. We had fantastic artists guiding us through different activities directly relating to the story as well as teaching us important theatre skills. The essence of creating an original piece of theatre was a fun and plentiful journey, really expanding all of our creativity. We used different parts of all of the activities to build a final performance without practicing a scripted play.

We tie-dyed our own ISTA t-shirts, which we wore in our final performance. We managed to create new friendships and work with people we would not normally work with, and we also learned skills from them.

In addition, the festival provided valuable opportunities for personal growth and development. We built our communication skills and confidence in our abilities, and we created long-lasting friendships with fellow participants from around the world.

The experience of working closely with professional artists also served as a source of inspiration. Overall, the ISTA theatre festival in Windhoek, Namibia, was not only an incredible theatre experience but also a journey of discovering things we never knew about ourselves, like singing and dancing. Through participation in this festival, we gained a deeper understanding of the power of theatre to go beyond our boundaries and bring together people from diverse backgrounds in a shared festival of creativity, expression, and fun. We are all looking forward to the next ISTA festival, which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2025.

Click here to watch the ISTA 2024 closing ceremony performance.

[Originally published on the International School of Kenya’s website accessed on 27/02/2024]