ISJ November 2018: 40 years of the International Schools Theatre Association
[noun] An account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment. Anyone who tells you about ISTA will have a different story. A story that is dependent on their role – whether they are a parent, head teacher, ISTA artist, student or staff member. It will be a story spanning several decades or more, or a story of a single ISTA event. It will depend on location, where the storyteller lives and where they have travelled to. And it will depend on impact – how ISTA has increased their confidence, developed a passion for theatre, introduced them to cultures new, broadened their understanding of ‘international mindedness’, or simply introduced them to a new, life long friend.
This is my story. A story that began on the stage at Vienna International School in 1987. Through a conversation with then, head of English, Iain Stirling, about how I could re-train to become a Theatre teacher. Iain told me of Patricia Zich and an organisation called The
International Schools Theatre Association. Iain suggested we attend ISTA’s annual Stratford Conference to meet Pat and other ISTA folks and take it from there. And the rest, they say, is history. From a house parent at the Berkshire Ensemble for Theatre Arts in Willamstown, USA (a forerunner and sister programme of ISTA), to administrator of ISTA’s summer programme in Lancashire; from my first festival in Brussels as an ISTA artist to a member of the then Executive Council; from a theatre teacher at Danube International School to coordinator of ISTA programmes in Asia; from an author of ISTA publications to now Executive Director. A role I have held for 17 years.