ISTA Festival, Rome 2016

By Shahriar H.

The “International Schools Theatre Association’s” mission, is to create a ‘world that depends on confident, internationally minded, collaborative and culturally literate young people, who are empowered to engage with and change the world responsibly’. It dates all the way back to 1978 where it became a registered company in 1995, and is now ‘producing over 50 annual festivals with the membership of 200 schools worldwide’, while still getting bigger. Marymount is part of the membership and has been for a lengthy period of time. Most recently, a festival had been held in our school, with the theme of “Secrets of Rome; Past and Present”. The Marymount participants were Riccardo, Kazuki, Mathias, Tia, Alice, Carolina, Jasmini, Maddi, Lena, Sarah, Saveena, Majd, Arigo, Paz, Umberto, Ellie, Michele, and myself.

On a side note: a big thanks to the parents who provided accommodations for the visiting students who came all the way from the American School of the Hague, Copenhagen International School, International School of Brussels, United World College of South East Asia – East, and Verdala International School, and another thanks to Mrs. Spadaro and Mrs. Ferrarin for organizing such a wonderful event for us!

The festival itself spanned over 4 days; Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

On Thursday, participants had to stay after school for a meet and greet in the auditorium with the visiting schools and the ISTA artists that we would be working with. We immediately did exercises that required teamwork and communication, except that we weren’t allowed to speak; our instructions grew more complicated and challenging with each of our successions. Eventually, we were told to get into our ensemble groups and locations, each led by one of the ISTA artists. We completed the rest of the familiarization process there. At the end of the day, we were served dinner in the cafeteria and the visiting students went home to their host families.

Friday was an ‘Out and About’ in Rome, a scavenger hunt for secrets prompted by clues and riddles, organized by our very own Mrs. Ferrarin. The hunt took place in school groups, with Marymount participants spread across the schools. After solving a riddle, the group would have to go to the hinted location and take a picture, which would be sent to Mrs. F via Whatsapp, who in turn would then send another riddle to solve. The hunt itself was excellent fun, and the sunny, cloudless weather only complimented the day. At the end of the hunt, we regrouped to get back to our busses, and then proceeded to an Opera. We had our lunch in front of the theatre, and after we finished, we went inside where we were toured around the place. The Opera Theatre was grandeur and magnificent, as it was meant for nobles and the upper class back in its days. Following the tour, we went back to school where we got back into our ensembles to start making contents for our final performance.

On Saturday, we started  off with some dance warm-ups that shook our bodies up for the day ahead. The bulk of the day was spent making material for our final performance within our ensembles, and in the evening, we shared our work with all other groups. The rest of our time was spent polishing what we already had. The final performance itself wasn’t your usual on-stage play. It was a promenade. We took to places around the school and used our environment as our stage. Our director’s thoughts were; we’re in Rome and the sun’s shining! It would be a shame if we were to do this inside.

After the performance, there were the usual speeches and thank yous from ISTA artists and organizers alike. It was a bittersweet atmosphere; we were saying our final goodbyes but also swapping contact information. Ultimately, the experience was definitely worth its time, and I encourage anyone presented with the opportunity, regardless of having an interest in theatre, to take it with heart.




  1. This is an interesting article. I like how it’s informative for people, especially someone like me who doesn’t know what the ISTA Festival is.


  2. This article is beautifully articulate and fantastically descriptive. Congratulations on the performance and well done on this article. Your article truly makes me wish I had experienced the festival for myself. Good job!


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