Three Days of Theatre Master Classes with ISTA

Theatre, an art form that transcends and branches entertainment mediums to create pieces that explore the simplest of ideas and delve into the most complex of concepts, whilst extracting the deepest of emotions from the audience that watches them.

This is how I saw the subject as a first year IB DP student and a complete newcomer to the art form. Due to the lack of knowledge I had about certain things that must be completed in the curriculum, even with the help of the teachers, I was worried about how I might go on. Then, the opportunity of ISTA (International Schools Theatre Association) presented itself. I hadn't known about the organisation, however I was excited as the teachers told us that it is a great chance to learn more about theatre and gain a unique experience and perspective on all areas of the subject, from actor, creator and designer to director.

The initial description was completely correct and the program astonished me beyond any expectation I had before attending. From the start, students are met with practical activities that initially may seem out of place, but they present themselves as fantastic connections to theatre and the ways we can create it from varied starting points. Furthermore, the program is very keen on developing the physical theatre skills of its participants by allowing them to free their bodies from discomfort present when performing. This is done with the use of numerous collaborative activities in which people must implement varied movements that may feel "awkward" for them at first but then they lead to the creation of wonderful pieces of physical theatre that can tell convoluted and engaging stories simply with the use of their solid voices, the body.

Every day had its own theme, the first being theatre basics and creation with the use of physical theatre as well as the theoretical exploration of the subject. Moreover, the next two days were also filled with things to take in such as clowning/clown implementations in theatre as well as Comedia del Arte, which were the two master classes which were taught at the event. The energy and great practical teaching of the tutors that were tasked with presenting these classes was astounding as they created whole worlds out of their classes, which every student felt they had entered, meaning their job was done right. Students were taught both the dramatic side of theatre as well the comedic, sometimes both as the two concepts intertwined with each other often.

Beyond the master classes, the two primary instructors present throughout the whole event were incredible as they were capable of keeping the students interested in everything that was being done by always making them do fresh and exciting things; one thing in particular that stuck was when they gave us the task of combining everything we learned into group pieces. With the fantastic pieces that were created, it was clear that everyone outdid themselves as the wanted goal was achieved.

Beyond the workshops, the students had the pleasure of seeing two very contrasting plays: A streetcar named Desire and Domestica, that further expanded the worldview for students in the context of theatre and elevated their analysis skills to new heights with great aid from the instructors. By the end of the event, everyone was tired but sad that the experience has reached its end; however, each and every individual, student and teacher were fulfilled as the event was not only a theatre learning program but more of a cultural and social bonding experience where people got together to truly create magical pieces that we all hope are carried into the future for the next generation of theatre lovers.

Strahinja Ilic
Grade 11