International Schools Theatre Association Festival in Shanghai 上海国际学校戏剧协会节（ISTA）
by Lauren Borodenko, Drama and Music
“What is the cost of excellence?” This question, provoking deep thinking about the impact of growth and the pursuit of excellence was the starting point for the ISTA middle school drama trip to Shanghai. Hosted by the American International School Pudong campus, 10 QAIS students from grades 6, 7, and 8 students attended the International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) festival. Over 100 middle school students from 5 international schools in the Asian region came together to work for three days with professional theatre artists in ensembles, workshops, and performance sharing. Some of the workshop opportunities included scenic design in concrete with one of the designers of Disney in Shanghai, Peking opera, 3-D projection, light and sound installations, musical improvisation, Commedia mask work, and much more. Students went into Shanghai on the second day to explore one of the old neighborhoods and interact with the community. By experiencing first hand the reality of life for community members who are between the two worlds of old and new, they collected thoughts, images, sounds and questions to bring back to their groups and inform their work on the last day. The students have shared many positive reflection about their experiences including making new friends, learning new skills, moving, singing, creating and playing in a purposeful way.
One of the highlights of this festival has been the tangible, powerful realization and connection of the ISTA process with the QAIS vision of learning. Starting and guided by the process of inquiry, the three days were spent recognizing, valuing and exploring the diverse learning styles and strengths of the students, the international perspective of students and exploration of cultural and intercultural understanding and the role and impact on action within a community.
The question I was left with at the end of the second day: “When do we get to go to the next ISTA festival!?”