I am sitting straining my powers of recall to focus on the early days of ISTA. It is not easy for as Claudia Hammond points out in her book Time Warped ‘… the flexibility of memory seems to be the key to imagining the future. Our millions of fragments of memories from different times of our lives are not set in stone; they can change giving us endless instant imaginative possibilities.’ Hammond 2013 p229
This observation both excites and frightens me as I ponder on ISTA past, ISTA present and ISTA-yet-to-come!
The year 1976 first jumps to mind. A phone call from Bev Meyer at American International School of Zurich in Switzerland and there we are. Me, with group of ten students; Ted ‘Milty’ Miltenberger from an American school in Milan with his group of young thespians and students with a teacher, whose name I recall as Bridget, from Lausanne. We work in small mixed school groups, playing games, working on characterisation activities and creating scenes. Ted calls it ‘Ensemble’ – sounds good to me as we sing another sea shanty bringing many voices together. Some seeds of ISTA have been planted (I am sure there were others as groups of theatre teachers instigated similar local international school theatre gatherings …). The unsplendid isolation of being a drama/theatre teacher and student in an international school has been practically approached – someone different to talk to – new activities shared – proto-professional theatre development in true ISTA-style initiated.
The first formal ISTA event we experienced was in 1978 at the Duttweiler Institute again hosted by Bev Meyer in Zurich.