From 1-3 February, six students from the Grade 9/10 Drama classes represented ACS Beirut at the International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) Festival at Cairo American College, with their Drama teacher Ms. Dyane Stillman. The students learned movement exercises, theatre games and techniques from their ISTA ensemble leaders, who are professional theatre artists. Additionally, each student participated in two external workshops with local artists, bringing back what they learned about puppetry, theatre of the oppressed, and Shakespeare to share with the other students in their Drama classes.
The students stayed with host families in Cairo giving them the opportunity to see the city from a different perspective. At the festival, they were placed into ensembles of 20 students each, with whom they traveled through the weekend, as a sort of base group. The theme of this festival was finding the possibilities for site-specific theatre and theatre that is based on the stories of a particular place, which is part of what they have studied this year in Drama class with Ms. Stillman. The entire group traveled by boats called felucas across the Nile, and then continued to the site of the oldest pyramids, which are located in Saqqara.
Each ISTA festival offers students opportunities to learn about cultural sensitivity and compassion by working with new friends from around the world. On the final day of the festival, the entire group of nearly sixty students shared what they’d learned about theatre, Egypt and themselves in an original performance piece.