ISTA Festivals for 2016-2017

One of the most exciting things about the Drama Department is its membership of ISTA.

Following the success of the recent trip to Penang, we have signed up for 2 ISTA festivals next year, as follows:

  • A Middle School Festival at Shanghai American School, Pudong (3rd to 7th November 2016) – this will be open to Years 6 to 9 and is likely to cost in the region of HK$7500-8000 all-inclusive, depending on final flight costs.
  • A High School Festival at Renaissance College, Hong Kong (17th to 19th May 2017) – this will be open to Years 9 to 13 and is likely to cost in the region of HK$2500-3000 (non-residential).

These festivals will be of great interest and benefit to a wide range of our students: all that is required is an interest in Drama and/or other performing arts. The nature of the festivals, which include collaborative work, cultural exchange and a lot of fun, means that those who attend will learn a huge amount – attending such events is often an extremely powerful and transformative experience.

Even more exciting is the fact that this year we will also be taking some students to Shanghai who are particularly interested in the production side of theatre, whether this be stage design, lighting, sound or just a general interest in production support.

Please note that a letter for the festival in Shanghai will be sent out very early next term, once flight costs have been confirmed. The deadline for signing up for this festival is likely to be 5th September, so you will need to act quickly if you want to attend.

No doubt demand will be high after our students’ past experiences in Penang, Manila and Bangkok and after the success of the recent Prep School Production: don’t miss out!

ISTA Festival Penang: Day 3

The final day of the festival was an extremely busy one: each ensemble worked on putting the final touches to their performance for the afternoon’s public sharing, cycling in and out of the performance venue and taking the time to ensure that all students were clear as to their roles. Some new work was generated, but for the most part it was a case of developing and clarifying which pieces of the previous days’ work would be included in each ensemble’s showcase. The performances at these festivals are designed simply to give the audience a snapshot of some of the work that has been created and some of the ideas that have been explored during the festival as a whole.

The performance took place in the late afternoon, with many of the host families coming along to watch, along with the visiting teachers and members of the host school community. After that, it was time for farewells and one last evening in host families before we flew back the next day.

Some photos of the final sharing will be posted in due course, along with the students’ reflections on the festival experience. In the meantime, here are some images of work in progress.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ISTA Festival Penang: Day 2

On the second day of the festival, the participants travelled to Georgetown to explore the local street art. As we walked around the old town, the students carried out various research tasks set by their ensemble leaders.

The afternoon was spent back at school in ensemble groups. It was a frenetic afternoon with lots of ideas being generated and played with: an astounding amount of material was created, some of which will be used in the final sharing that ends the festival.

An important part of the ISTA experience is working as  a full group. In the video below, ISTA artist Matt Baker leads the students as they learn part of a song that has been composed around the theme of the festival.

And here are a few images from Day 2.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ISTA Festival Penang: Day 1

We’re coming towards end of the first day of the ISTA Festival here in Penang and the students have had an amazing range of experiences:

  • A full group session involving around 100 students playing tag, having slow motion battles, singing a newly composed song, etc.
  • Ensemble sessions in which they got to know their fellow ensemble members and started exploring the festival theme of ‘The unknown’.
  • Workshops focused on skills such as street dance, clowning, effective writing and physical theatre.
  • Lots of delicious food.
  • Making plenty of new friends.

The day will finish with another full group singing experience, before a barbecue and then the student social, which will take the form of a disco.

Here are some photos of our students in action.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ISTA Festival in Penang

A letter will be going home this week regarding a trip that we are running to an ISTA Festival in Penang.

This trip, which takes place from 20th to 24th April 2016, is open to students in Years 6 to 9. Full details of the trip can be found in this letter. Please also visit the ISTA website to read more about the festival itself.

After last year’s successful trip to Manila, I have no doubt that any students who take part will have an outstanding time. Please move quickly to sign up: there are only limited places available to us and these places will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

Screen-Shot-2015-01-26-at-10.04.09

Screen-Shot-2015-01-26-at-10.04.24

Screen-Shot-2015-01-26-at-10.03.06

Screen-Shot-2015-01-24-at-13.45.54

Confirmation of ISTA festivals for 2015-2016

During the 2015-2016 academic year there will be two opportunities for our students to take part in ISTA festivals.


For Senior Students, we will be hosting a High School Festival here at Harrow Hong Kong – as previously posted here. This festival will be open to all students in Years 9 to 13; there will be opportunities for both those interested in enhancing their performance skills and those wanting to learn about aspects of production design and tech. We will also be looking for a group of students to help run the festival, taking on an event management role.

A letter will go out before the end of this term giving students the chance to sign up for this festival.


Students in Years 6 to 9 will have the opportunity to travel to Penang, Malaysia, to take part in a Middle School Festival hosted by the International School of Penang. Details of this festival can be found here; the trip will most likely run from 20th to 24th April 2016.

We will send out a letter early next term giving students the chance to sign up for this trip.


ISTA festivals are always very rewarding experiences which enable students to learn huge amounts about Drama and Theatre, while also experiencing meaningful personal growth. You can read accounts of previous festivals we have attended by clicking on the following links: