A real sense of ensemble was born out of this creative process.
How can theatre change the world? By asking questions and allowing both the actors and the audience the space to discuss the answers.
I was lucky enough to be part of the ISTA team for the recent high school festival hosted by Verdala International School, Malta. The starting point was Beyond Borders and the students listened to refugees tell their stories of why they left their homes and embarked on such a perilous journey. It was an incredibly powerful festival both in terms of the poignant work created and the important discussions generated by the starting point. As well as the talks with refugees, we held a discussion session with the students and coming from my own little liberal bubble, I was surprised at how many students at an international theatre festival were hostile to the idea of not only migration but also the increased numbers of refugees on their shores. Where some students were amazed at the strength and determination it took for some refugees to cross a multitude of international borders to reach their chosen destination, others questioned their right to make such a journey in the first place.
There is so much rhetoric, so many fear-mongering media slogans, such a social media bubble around issues of migration and asylum. It is easy to absorb this onslaught without ever truly processing how you – as an individual – feel about it. The Verdala festival gave me a sense of urgency: we needed to find the space to discuss and explore current issues with the young people we work with and we needed to be doing it now.