We had no master plan and now there was no chance to organise or communicate an exit strategy…
Coffee, rocks and taxis
By Pete Benson
Oh, the irony. I have been asked to write about any ISTA disasters I have been involved in. Now in real life I am Captain Disaster, a doyen of stupidity beyond human imagining but in my ISTA life disaster is thankfully rare.
My earliest disaster was in Warsaw 2004. The day of the festival excursion from the American School of Warsaw I had naturally stocked up on food and coffee at the hotel breakfast, obviously only enough to sustain a small regiment because every ISTA artist knows it could be at least twenty minutes before the next slice of cake and cup of coffee might be available. The out and about went well. A thirty-minute journey from school to a guided tour around the entirely rebuilt old Warsaw and a visit to a film archive to see pre-war footage of the town before it was levelled. Perfect. All that is required is to get back to the school intact. While student ensembles board their coaches I take the opportunity to answer the call of nature as sixty thousand gallons of hotel coffee is now anxious to be on the next leg of its journey. So with a hearty: “Don’t go without me”, I ventured off to the toilets. On my return I am faced with a total absence of coaches. A space could not be more empty, Mr Brook. No one, nothing, nada. My memory no longer has the details but somehow I found a taxi and using the three Polish words I had I think I convey my destination and think I understand that the cost of the journey was going to be close to all the money I had on me.