Just before half term, St. Andrews Year 12 and 13 IB Theatre Arts students attended a unique Theatre Arts Programme Symposium (TaPS) at the Traidhos 3 Generation Community for Learning Centre in Chiang Mai, accompanied by Ms Shelley and Mr Jason. This three-day intensive training gave our students the perfect opportunity to engage dynamically with the course outside of the classroom. This was an incredibly valuable experience for our students and teachers alike. The event was organised and run by ISTA, a non-profit organisation and registered charity. ISTA brings together young people, artists and teachers from different countries in a variety of settings to experience, create and learn about theatre.
During the course students had the opportunity to work in ensembles led by top international theatre practitioners from across the globe; all of these practitioners have a thorough knowledge of the IB Theatre Arts course and/or are teachers or examiners of the course. At the Chiang Mai TaPS students worked with theatre experts such as Georgia Munnion, the Education Programmes Developer for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Each TaPS also involves a masterclass from an expert in a particular theatrical field. This year the masterclass was led by Matt Lynch who delivered an intensive and enlightening class entitled ‘Learn the Way of the Mask’. Matt trained directly under Jacques Lecoq in Paris and graduated from his school in 1998. Through working with experts of this calibre the students were able to develop a wide range of theatre skills from directing to performing, designing to dramaturgy.
One evening during the visit our students and drama teachers had the privilege of watching Phare Circus, a collective of performers from Cambodia. This group uses theatre, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories: historical, folk and modern. Our students were mesmerised by the energy and skill of the performers. What makes the group unique is that all the performers were originally street children who were cared for and trained as performers by this organisation, an experience that transformed their lives. Each performer now passes their skills on to the next generation of street children. Our Theatre Arts group also saw a beautiful traditional Thai dance and drumming troupe and a captivating shadow puppet performance by the Makhampom Theatre Group which adapts traditional Thai performance styles to contemporary themes. On the final evening, students and teachers enjoyed a visit to the Chiang Mai night market for some relaxation after all their hard work.
This experience will provide a fantastic resource for further explorations of IB Theatre Arts within school as each student was able to engage with the philosophy behind the Theatre programme, its core components and the required assessment tasks through this TaPS. Our students and teachers enjoyed a special, unique experience, and the learning outcomes for students could not have been achieved in a classroom alone. When reflecting on the course, many students spoke about the diversity, collaboration, celebration, friendship and collegiality that they experienced during the eye-opening three day course. A truly memorable and inspiring visit.
Some comments from our students:
Ista TaPS was an amazing experience that allowed us to work with professionals in the theatre industry in order to benefit our IB course. It was specifically targeted to the IB Theatre Arts course and will definitely benefit any future work, both within the context of the IB as well as outside of school. I am really excited to put into practise some of the techniques that we learned at TaPS from the ensemble leaders. - Aandie, Year 13
TaPS provided us with a unique environment that was different from lessons in school. We were inspired by professionals who have been in the theatre business from directing to performing, and to learn from their vast knowledge. We were also able to collaborate with other IB Theatre Arts students from across the globe, and benefitted from their experiences of the course. This opportunity will be extremely beneficial for my studies. - Nutt, Year 12