Waves of change: a physical journey

by John Patrick Mulhall | 1 September 2017

There is an unbelievable amount of physical theatre ready to be explored and experienced.

Several years ago I came to a crossroads in my own teaching and directing. ISTA has always been incredibly successful at bringing students and teachers into a world of collaboration and devising. I would watch ISTA artists working with middle school students and walk away longing to see the same level of engagement happening in my classroom. What started to stand out to me about ISTA was how physically engaged the students were in the process. Despite how much I talked about the value of the physical, I was seeing students who depended largely on words to communicate dramatic meaning. This discovery made me desperate for change and desperation became the inspiration for my personal journey into physical theatre. The past eight years have been an exciting chapter of discovery through workshops, one-on-one training and the world of YouTube. I realised that once you find it, there is an unbelievable amount of physical theatre ready to be explored and experienced. It had reinforced my belief in the power of physical theatre. I felt that I was finally in a place where I could guide my students into a genuine understanding of how to be physical performers.

Our school hosted an ISTA Connect middle school festival in January 2016 which focused on the lives and experiences of Hong Kong’s refugee communities. This was inspired by the work of Florence and Lino Santos, a teaching couple from our school, and the Matrix Club, a group of students under their guidance who work regularly with children and adults from refugee communities.

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