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British-based Learning with an International Perspective

‘Something Old, Something New’ – two students reflect on the ISTA Drama Festival

In early February 2017, Tanglin hosted a 3-day ISTA Drama Festival for Senior students from schools across Asia.

The International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) is a world-renowned company that hold drama festivals all over the world and whose primary objective is to bring young people together through drama.

The festival brought 8 ISTA artists and 150 students to Tanglin to explore the theme ‘Something Old, Something New’ – with the rapid rate of change in Singapore as well as the constant push for new technologies, there is a danger that the traditional could become lost. How can we preserve traditional storytelling? Can we blend the old and new somehow?

Students, Sophie Riley (Year 10) and Matthew Browne (Year 12), reflect on their experience of the festival, what they learnt and how they’ll use their new found techniques in the classroom.

Sophie studies drama at GCSE and Matthew at A Level. This was their first ISTA festival.

What did you learn over the three days?

We took part in workshops, ensembles and visited Haw Par Villa.

In the workshops, we learnt different techniques which we were then able to apply when devising a piece in our ensemble groups. We showed the old and new by creating a 3-5 minute piece with other students and at the end of the festival each ensemble put their individual pieces together to create one overall piece.

Some of the techniques were understanding how we can use colours to represent emotions and how we use the space around us, for example, how it is presented and how we can move around it.

Other techniques included storytelling without an object, plus street theatre with simple props and little or no amplification of sound.

How do you feel you benefitted from taking part in the festival?

It was great to meet new people, listen to their perspectives and to share ideas.

Being able to focus in-depth on one theme over a short period of time was also refreshing.

We’re now experimenting with the techniques we learnt to improve the pieces we’re creating in the classroom. For example, we created a short piece using fans. We thought of one object, a butterfly, to form the fans. We chose one part of the butterfly, the wing, and wherever it moved we moved with it. This really made us use the space more effectively.

What advice would you give to others thinking of attending?

Do it! It’s a great opportunity to learn as you do rather than focussing lots on theory. The varying approaches of the ISTA leaders was inspiring, and it was nice to work with students from other schools across Asia – we still keep in touch!