So, ISTA and I share an anniversary of sorts. This is ISTA’s 40th year and it is my 40th year as a theatre teacher! Actually I should really only claim the last 25 years as a theatre teacher. The first 15 years I was mostly a theatre director being paid as a teacher. It is much more than a coincidence that it was also 25 years ago that I first encountered ISTA. That first encounter changed who I was as a teacher and ISTA continues to impact how, and in many ways why, I teach.
I used to try to keep up with the number of ISTA events I have attended, staffed or hosted since 1994. But the reality is I lost count years ago. The number of events and yes, perhaps age has made events, countries and years run together but moments are burned into my memory forever.
Sometime in 1994 I took students to my first festival. During the weekend I found myself sitting around a table in a bar in Kuala Lumpur with various drama teachers and ISTA staff members. We were sharing ideas, tales and yes, drinks. I remember at one point thinking to myself: ‘You are home!’ Many of those sitting around that table have become life long friends and mentors. Then and now I felt a kinship of spirit and a true feeling of being in a strong network of support and encouragement. The festival was an amazing experience, even if Tim’s fire breathing workshop resulted in my being partially roasted. Most importantly, I remember listening to my students talk about what an amazing experience ISTA was as we travelled home.