Last weekend, 6 CISB StageCats attended a drama festival hosted by the International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA). Because this is CISB’s first year as a member school, this was our first festival! Over the course of three days, students took part in ensembles, participated in workshops and went on an out-and-about trip. All of these events culminated in a final performance in which students shared their work with other ensembles, parents and friends. The theme of the festival was community, particularly how the meaning of community has changed in the age of WeChat and social media.

Day 1: Students gathered for opening Peking Opera performances and met their ensemble leaders. After the initial introductions, students went to Chaoyang Park to take part in traditional games and take photos that would be used as inspiration in rehearsal. In the afternoon, students worked with their ensembles and learned a whole group song. The day ended with a student social – lots of food and dancing!

Day 2: Students worked in their ensembles and also had the opportunity to take part in two workshops. Some of the workshops included Kung Fu, Chinese Drumming, Peking Opera, Bunraku Puppetry and Storytelling. This was a great way for students to explore different aspects of performance and theatre.

Day 3: Much of the day was spent preparing for the final performances. Students finalized their ensemble pieces and then worked as a full group to stitch the pieces together into one cohesive performance. The final sharing went very well; students showed their engagement with the theme through movement, tableaus, short scenarios and more! There were lots of parents in the audience. Even a few CISB students who did not attend the festival came out to support their fellow StageCats!

Overall, the ISTA festival was a very positive experience for all involved. CISB students and teachers are very grateful to the organizers and artists for putting on such a fantastic event. Not only did students have the chance to improve their drama skills, but they also explored a new style of creating theatre on a topic that is so relevant to all of us. We are very happy with our first festival and look forward to attending (and, in the future, hosting) many festivals to come. Thank you ISTA!

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