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Plays for Youth Theatre

Calderdale Theatre School has several original plays available for performance by other youth theatres. All have been successful and are available with production notes.

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ISTA Festival

Theatre School has been a member of ISTA since 2006 and in that time older Theatre School members have been lucky enough to attend festivals in The Hague, Brussels, Budapest, Terezin Memorial Camp in the Czech Republic and Berlin. We have also hosted two festivals here in Calderdale and have welcomed young people from international schools in Madrid, Stavanger, Rome, Dubai, Lagos, Heidelberg and London.

Our most recent festival was held last year at the end of October half term, in conjunction with Calder High School. 45 young people from Calderdale had the opportunity to welcome visitors from some of the countries listed above, to work with them and with the help of inspiring practitioners provided by ISTA to create a memorable new piece of theatre which was performed at the end of the festival. A short film was made about the festival. Itís well worth looking at.

Theatre School has been invited to become the first ISTA Flagship School in the UK. Itís early days yet but initial ideas include joint events with Brannel, a proposed flagship school in Cornwall, and other Flagship schools as they come on board, hosting an ISTA Summer School as part of the Halifax Festival, building links between ISTA and other youth theatres, building links between local primary schools and ones around Brannel in Cornwall, attending ISTA Festivals outside Europe. There are many more ideas. They will all take time, work and access to some funding to make them happen but it is all very exciting and we are looking forward to the adventure!

2009: Terezin & Berlin

ISTA BerlinWe made the trip to Prague on Tuesday 14th April. The group was made up of 12 young people (6 boys and 6 girls) all aged between 16 Ė 18 and 5 adults. We spent two days in Prague walking round the city, discovering as much as possible about its history and about the lives of the Jewish people who lived there before the transportations started in 1940.

On Thursday 16th April we travelled to Terezin to take part in the Theatre Festival organised by International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA). The other groups taking part were from Moscow, Istanbul, Geneva, Bucharest, Copenhagen and Cairo. Terezin was a walled garrison town before the invasion of Czechoslovakia. It was built in the 1800s and you can see that many of the buildings were once rather grand. However, many of them now stand badly in need of renovation and derelict with plaques on their walls giving testament to the dreadful uses they were put to between 1940 Ė 45. The Naziís expelled everyone who was living in Terezin and turned it into a transit camp for Jews. Of the nearly 140,000 men, women and children deported to Terezin from the Czech lands, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Slovakia and Hungary, 34,000 died. From 1942 to 1944, transports carried 87,000 people from Terezin eastward; of those, 83,000 were murdered, tortured to death, or perished on forced marches.

The young people were mixed into 4 'ensembles', groups who would work together throughout the weekend to produce a piece that would be performed at the end of the Festival. Each group had its own focus - devising, music, dance/movement and mask. So, we had 3 from Calderdale in each group.

On the first day we had 3 tours. These happened in smaller groups. We were paired with Copenhagen for our tours. We visited the museum, the railway tracks and the Crematorium and finally the Small Fortress. The Small Fortress was the original prison for the garrison and was extended to accommodate large numbers of political prisoners and Jewish prisoners.

It is really difficult to properly describe the experience but as you can imagine, it was intense, deeply disturbing and at times emotionally very difficult. All the Calderdale young people were profoundly affected by what they saw.

ISTA BerlinThey went on to work very hard over the next two days and at the end of the Festival, along with all the other young people there, produced a deeply moving piece comprised of all the four disciplines they had been working on. They left the Festival firm friends with many of the international students they had been working with and I know that many of them are regularly in touch through email and facebook. The entire Calderdale group said the trip was a life changing experience.

As part of the July Project we held an exhibition of some of the photographs that the participants took at the Festival and in Prague. We also did a performance which aimed to share some of the work done there.

In October 2009 we attended a festival in Berlin. The theme of the festival was the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This film was made by Jez Gregg, ex Theatre School member, until recently Theatre School teacher and now ISTA Creative Director.


2007: Budapest

The theme of the Festival was Stimulations - Sight, Story, Sound, Space. On the Friday each ensemble group worked in an allocated space in the city of Budapest. The remaining ensemble time was devoted to devising an original piece of theatre based on this experience. There were Ensembles, Master Classes, in house 'Physical Theatre' performance, an evening with host family, plus a day out and about in Budapest.

"It has made me more of an open minded person and I now have many more friends to talk to facebook, thus widening my social networks, which is always good! I have learnt about how to stretch myself and that trying something new is always a fun and exciting thing to do."

"I learned that I deserve to be and have the right to be on stage as much as anybody else. To be completely myself, let the character become me and not try to be something I'm not if I don't want to."

"Pick One moment? Impossible... Massages in ensemble, Turkish baths, seeing everything come together at the end..."

"My ensemble leader genuinely cared that the production we did was interesting and enjoyable and let us choose what we put in, but was also firm with some parts, as he knew they would look good."

"Before I came to Budapest I was less independent I would not say I am fully independent now, but I personally think I've gained on it."


2006: Calderdale

Our festival was held all over Calderdale. We hosted young people from Stavanger, Madrid and Dubai as well as students from Theatre School and the wider Calderdale community. After the festival, I was asked to write an article for Scene, the ISTA magazine. This should give you a flavour of our experience.


2005: Brussels

This festival took Farce as its theme. Each group attending had to bring a long a short piece. Our piece was based on the Famous Five (as you may be able to tell from the photos). This festival was a very large one with 120 young people from all over the world taking part. Each ensemble group took a scene in the final piece which built to a fantastic farcical climax. One again everyone had a brilliant time. We were getting good at this! Have a look at the video and you might get an idea of what it's like to be at an ISTA Festival.

2004: The Hague

A large portion of the first day was taken up with working in and around Amsterdam. This was hugely enjoyed by everyone. They had the opportunity not only to see the city itself but also to actually work and perform in it. Some quotes from them:

"I had never been to Amsterdam before so enjoyed the chance to explore a beautiful new city in a different way."

"I loved working in public, as I had never done it before and found it very exhilarating, good fun and I learned something too."

"It was a beautiful city and site-specific work was a new experience for me."

The rest of the Festival was held in the school itself and the young people from Theatre School worked with young people from around the world to produce a piece of Theatre entitled Itís All in the Timing at the end of the Festival. Our first visit to a festival was a definite success.

"The ensemble work was great. I learned a lot from it."

"Absolutely fantastic. Loved every second of it!"

"I very much enjoyed the final performance. I feel we had worked hard on it over the weekend and the final result was great. I loved the feeling of something new and spontaneous."

"It was good to have something to work towards and to aim for."

"A new experience Ė and an exciting one..."

The most repeated comments on the flight back home were; "It was too short" and "When can we go to another one?"


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