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IB Theatre – Trip to NYC 2022

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This fall, twelve Grade 11 and 12 Theatre students had the opportunity to join theatre students from all over North America to attend the IB Theatre Symposium, attend three theatre performances, and explore some attractions in the Big Apple.

Through this opportunity, students got to immerse themselves in a new city, learn and create alongside other young theatre makers, and see world-class theatre. The International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA) IB Theatre Symposium engages students in the philosophy and practices of DP Theatre and launches them toward further explorations in theatre. The plays open their imaginations to larger-scale production elements and diverse styles of theatre. And the opportunity to travel with their peers is a bonding experience they will carry with them always. 

The first day of the excursion was spent exploring the city. We were very fortunate to have a sunny day to walk through Central Park, visit the American History Museum, and have lunch at the Chelsea Market. That evening we took in our first musical, Hadestown. Based on the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, this production blew us away with its folk-rock-musical-theatre styles, brilliant choreography, expansive set, and its compelling message of community and the importance of fighting for what you believe in. One of the highlights of the night was standing at the stage door to meet Lillias White, a recent addition to the cast playing Hermes, and thanking her for her amazing performance.

The next morning was our first day of the IB Theatre Symposium held at the famous Ripley Studios. Our host, the International School Theatre Association (ISTA), is comprised of 240 member schools worldwide. Each school in attendance was divided into six ensemble groups. This allowed each student involved to meet and work with different IB learners from all over North America. In these ensembles, our Gryphons travelled between a number of different workshops including NOH theatre, which is a classical Japanese dance-drama. Mayo Miwa was the instructor from the NOH Society and shared the traditions of that art form, including context, history, and the practical exploration of some of the movements. 

After a day of theatre classes, we saw our second Broadway performance, Leopoldstadt—Tom Stoppard’s re-telling of a family’s experiences in Vienna prior to and during the Nazi occupation. This passionate play about love and perseverance with its subtle staging, use of projection, and music left us breathless. We found this play so emotionally gripping that we made a stop for tea and discussion time on the way back to the hotel. 

The next day began with the second day of learning at the theatre symposium workshops. The students worked on text analysis, staging theatre texts, musical choreography, verbatim theatre, and performing theatre theory, which is about researching someone existing work and applying their theories and conventions to your own practice. That workshop was presented by New York’s Ping Chong and Company. Kate Pagett, Middle School Drama, and I were also able to take in their workshop designed for teachers. Other workshops included one on collaborative creation by Ana Mărgineanu from PopUP Theatrics. In that workshop, students did site-specific work, where they set out in small groups around the two floors of Ripley Studios and staged play texts in site-specific areas. Students also participated in two workshops that were run by IB Theatre Diploma representatives and teachers, so that they could help students link what they were learning in these other workshops to their IB studies.

Our final evening was spent seeing the production, 1776. This musical is a revival of a play that was originally done in the 70s. Featuring an all-female cast, this production’s revitalized and re-energized production made for a lively evening and a great way to finish our time in NYC.

From the beginning of the trip, Kate and I noticed that the students were in the moment, caring for each other, and the people they met, and always aware and respectful of their surroundings. 

“The trip was really enjoyable,” Rebecca Palm ‘23, one of the students who took part, said. “I’ve never been to New York so I learned a lot about being in a big city and theatre in general. I was the only Grade 12, so it was nice to meet students I didn’t know as well before. The workshops were great. When we came back we shared a different part of the workshop with the rest of the group, but I definitely learned a lot from my fellow peers and the professionals teaching the courses.”