Having a Phnomenal Time

by Jonothan Neelands | 11 September 2018

The ISTA Connect programme is all about creating diverse theatre experiences that recognise and value place and people of difference.

What a crazed rush of images, emotions, questions, moments of awe and wonder. And a deep privilege to have been part of this noble experiment bringing together an inclusive group of Khmer artists, ISTA artists and local students to connect, renew and regenerate. The memories are part of me now, part of my understanding of a recovering culture, part of my passionate belief in the power of theatre to challenge, heal and transform. Theatre as an alternative dialogue that allows us to speak and witness the unspeakable and the unforgettable.

Firstly, thanks and respect to Dinos for his alchemy as creative director, Lizzie for her brilliant weaving of the programme to ensure high quality learning experiences and theatre content, to Keriann for her unfathomable energies, lightness of being and scrupulous attention to detail. To the inspirational team of artists, their smiles and artistry but also their voices of peace and reconciliation in a still troubled and scarred society emerging from the ashes of the Killing Fields. And to our brilliant young translators who tirelessly both translated and contributed to the artistic processes.

Diversity is the social engine of creativity and the picture above says it all for me. I lecture and workshop about this stuff and the ISTA Connect programme is all about creating diverse theatre experiences that recognise and value place and people of difference. But the experience of working in a highly diverse group for the first two days of my time in Phnom Penh, as we prepared for the festival, was mind-blowing.

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