The banners are up.
The programmes have been printed.
The T-shirts have been delivered.
And today the artists checked into the Gold Coast Hotel.
ISTA has arrived!
Those of us who are involved in the organisation of an event like this week’s ISTA Festival are so closely bound up with it that we sometimes forget that many people may not be aware of what is happening. And so the purpose of this post is to shed some clarity on what an ISTA Festival is.
ISTA is the International Schools Theatre Association, an organisation that has been running since 1978. ISTA’s mission statement reads as follows:
ISTA believes that the future of our world depends on confident, internationally minded, collaborative and culturally literate young people who are empowered to engage with and change the world responsibly. We believe that this is achieved through the ISTA experience.
Educators play a key role in the fulfilment of our mission. We therefore offer educators worldwide the opportunity to come together to develop themselves, their pedagogy and their skills, equipping and empowering them to bring about this change through theatre.
ISTA brings together young people, artists and teachers from different countries in different settings to experience, create and learn about theatre. We passionately value diversity and collaboration, celebration and play, friendship and collegiality.
Harrow Hong Kong has been a member of ISTA since 2013 and since that time we have attended three ISTA Festivals: Middle School Festivals in Bangkok and Manila, as well as a High School Festival here in Hong Kong. We have also been fortunate to invite two ISTA artists-in-residence into school to work with a wide range of students and staff.
And now it’s our turn to host a festival.
This means that 90 students, plus 15 teachers, from other international schools in Hong Kong, Thailand, Korea and Turkey will be visiting Harrow Hong Kong.
This means that 8 ISTA artists will work with those students for three days exploring the festival theme, ‘The ingenious harnessing of nature’.
This means that 21 of our students will act as an Event Management Team, taking on the leadership of some of the administration of the festival.
This means that 31 families will open their doors to host students from schools overseas.
This means that the School will be taken over by a whirlwind of creative and theatrical endeavours as the festival participants work through their understanding of the theme, inspired by a visit to the dam that holds back the waters of the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir.
‘The ingenious harnessing of nature’:
Tai Lam Country Park is a beautiful national park in the New Territories of Hong Kong. Its dam and reservoirs serve the enormous population of this bustling and vibrant city.
Taking the harnessing of natural resources as a starting point, we will look to explore our relationship with the environment.
How do we live in harmony with nature in ways that support our survival and progress as a species?
What happens when the two are in conflict?
The festival will allow students to learn all sorts of new skills, while working alongside like-minded young people from a range of backgrounds. It culminates in a final ‘performance’, during which the students share some of their learning during the previous three days.
We will be making occasional posts here over the weekend, and a full report will go onto the school website in due course.
In the meantime…let the festival commence!