Challenged to tackle the complex issues of race, prejudice and inclusion, a group of Talon Theatre juniors and seniors last month joined students from around the world to explore the people, situations and concepts of the civil and human rights movement throughout U.S. history at the International School Theatre Association (ISTA) Festival in Atlanta.
During the four-day festival students and their teachers toured the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and then, through a process of collaboration within individual ensembles, created a powerful piece of theatre that asked: “What does it mean to be an activist?”
Inspired by the quote by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Roberto Gbowee, “Be your own Mandela, your own King, your own Ghandi,” students created a moving and effective piece of theatre formatted as a summit on racism. Through movement, music, tableaux, projections and acting, the ensembles performed for an audience of parents, teachers, and civic leaders from the Atlanta area including the executive vice president of CNN International.
Santa Margarita Catholic High School students assumed leadership roles within their ensembles. Senior Sabrina Boyd composed and conducted an original choral piece for the final presentation.
Students stayed with host families during the festival and made friends with other like-minded students from several international schools and organizations.
“It is a true privilege to see these incredibly talented students commit to delving deeply in to difficult topics and using theatre as a way to promote positive social and political change,” said Santa Margarita Talon Theatre Director Amy Luskey-Barth.
This is the second ISTA festival Talon Theatre has attended. Last year Talon Theatre students attended the festival in Terezin in the Czech Republic where they immersed themselves in the history of the Holocaust.
“For the seniors who have gone to both the Terezin festival and Atlanta, the experience has been profound. I can’t wait to see what kind of art they will produce as they move on from SMCHS into the world. ISTA and IB Theatre have given these students a rich assortment of tools with which to express themselves creatively. I would say that many of these students can already consider themselves activists,” Luskey- Barth said.