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!

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Summer Drama Opportunities

Once the school year ends, there is no need for students to ignore Drama during the holidays: there are plenty of opportunities in Hong Kong for those interested in theatre to develop their skills further.

Starlit Voice have been offering tuition leading to LAMDA examinations this year during enrichment sessions, and they offer an interesting-looking programme of workshops and courses over the summer: click here for details.

CentreStage Studios are a relatively new outfit, but they have already been into School with workshops on Shakespeare and musical theatre. They too offer a range of summer workshops, which can be accessed here.

Finally, Faust are a well-established company with a reputation for offering plenty for budding thespians. This summer they not only offer drama workshops, but also workshops in creative writing; further details can be found by clicking here.

ISTA Summer Academy

This is very exciting: the ISTA Performing Arts Academy in Shanghai are offering a Summer Academy, open to any student aged 11 to 18.

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Unfortunately the first course clashes with our last week of term, but the second course falls in the first week of the holidays.

The ISTA Performing Arts Academy has this to say about these courses:

Veteran practitioner, former ISTA Vice President and IB Theatre Examiner and Trainer, Ms Fenella Kelly will lead 2 separate five day courses:

Course 1 starts Mon 27th June – Physical Theatre Approaches
Course 2 starts Mon 4th July – Bringing Text to Life

We have already enrolled students aged 11-18 from several international schools from Beijing and Shanghai and are ready to welcome students from all over Asia!
This promises to be a truly unforgettable learning experience – DON’T MISS OUT!

You can sign up for one course (RMB3800) or for both courses (RMB7200)
Find out more on our website now! www.ista-shanghai.com.

This would be a great way to start the Summer Holidays!

(Please note that this is not a school trip and so students will have to travel with a member of their family.)

Frantic Assembly’s Chair Duets Challenge

UK theatre company Frantic Assembly create some amazing movement and physical theatre work, and the Drama Department uses a lot of their ideas in lessons.

They have recently launched a Chair Duets Challenge, asking people around the world to create their own Chair Duets using a simple devising technique. This is something we often introduce in Year 9 Physical Theatre lessons.

Watch the video above and then visit the Chair Duets Challenge website to find out more: there is a very clear How To video for creating your chair duet on the website.

It would be great to see some Harrow students uploading their work!

Why study Drama?

There has been increasing buzz in the education world over the past few years about the importance of creativity in schools. Resources such as Ken Robinson’s now famous 2006 TED talk Do Schools Kill Creativity? are frequently used to highlight the importance of equipping students with the skills needed to thrive, survive and succeed in a range of unexpected scenarios – skills that Arts subjects would seem to teach in abundance.

At this time of year many students are thinking about what courses to choose for the next stage of their studies. We offer GCSE Drama and are intending to extend this to AS-Level Theatre Studies next year. Here are some resources to help students and parents decide whether Drama is a subject for them:

14 Ways Being A Drama Kid Can Help You As An Adult – while the focus is very much on American schools where ‘Theater’ is focused on creating public performances, the ideas in this article still apply to the Drama curriculum we offer at Harrow Hong Kong.

Creative people’s brains really do work differently – an accessible look at some of the research behind creativity, which includes this rather striking assertion:

The common traits that people across all creative fields seemed to have in common were an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for complexity and ambiguity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray; the ability to extract order from chaos; independence; unconventionality; and a willingness to take risks.

The Real Neuroscience of Creativity – a review of some of the scientific research into creativity.

How frustration can make us more creative – another TED talk; this one focuses on the ways that creativity can be born out of restrictions and problems. Drama and other creative subjects force students to confront mistakes and problems, to embrace frustration and to find creative ways to a range of different solutions.

And finally, two videos which are directly related to the subject choices students face at this time of year. The first video shows the importance of the Arts in education: while the images focus primarily on the visual arts, the voiceover is absolutely relevant to Drama. The second film focuses on the importance of the skills developed through studying GCSE Drama. Both are worth watching.


Assuming it is accredited, our plan is to offer the new AQA GCSE Drama course from next year; you can read the syllabus by following this link. In the meantime, here is a basic breakdown of the way the course is assessed:

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Weekend Performing Arts Academy in Repulse Bay

As many of you will know, Starlit Voice have been running LAMDA examination preparation sessions at Harrow Hong Kong since the start of this year. These will continue throughout the year.

Two of the teachers from Starlit Voice have now started a new venture, CentreStage Studios. CentreStage Studios run a weekend Performing Arts Academy in Repulse Bay, which may be of interest to some of our students. Please see the flyer below for further information.

CENTRESTAGE ACADEMY