ISTA – a personal perspective

by Catherine Rankin | 1 May 2015

They became my family – when I was away from mine.

My first ISTA festival proved to be an opening to a whole new world when I ventured off to my first festival ten years ago. I had just started my first international school position in a small school in Beijing and was lucky enough that my predecessor had booked my students and I into TaPS in Shanghai. I had already been acquainted with ISTA through their IB training which I found to be the best professional development that I had received in a long time. Little did I know what would occur at TaPS and middle school festivals.

It was an eye opening experience for not only did I watch my students become exposed to some of the best practices and practitioners but it also allowed me to engage in theatrical discussions and a hell of a lot of fun. In my first festival, I learnt so much during those three days about new areas of theatre that would impact my teaching. I had trained in Australia back in the 1990s and taught in Australia and England in quite a traditional field of study – Stanislavski, Brecht and Greek theatre. Here my students and I were being introduced to Butoh and Noh theatre. This was the start of a change of artistic direction for me into the realm of physical theatre. Memories of Shanghai TaPS filled my mind on my return to school – the wonderful Sherri Sutton and her comedy, the Theatre syllabus and a mind boggling performance of Hamlet in the style of Peking Opera. “Wow, this ISTA is amazing!

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