Six EF Academy New York students recently attended the Theater Arts Program Symposium (TaPS) in Manhattan put on by the International Schools Theater Association. The students spent three days and two nights in the city led by IB Theater teacher Ginny Borton. Anyone taking theater classes at EF Academy could attend the conference, and IBY2 student Van Le decided to attend because, “Ms. Borton recommended me to attend because it would help me with the IB theater assessments.” The students joined students from many schools around the country to participate in three days of exciting workshops and exercises to further their knowledge of theater.
Upon arrival, the students were separated into groups of 10-15 with students from other schools. They stayed with the same group for three days, allowing them to make friends from across the region. Each group was led by a facilitator and workshops were led my theatre arts professionals from around the region. One of Ms. Le’s favorite exercises was learning how sound affects a scene. She learned how “sound can affect the tone and message a scene conveys.” As someone who is interested in set design and the technical aspects of theatre, these were valuable lessons as she works toward her IB Diploma.
Ms. Borton loves bringing students to the conference each year because it allows her IB Theatre students to have a deeper understanding of concepts they learn in her classes. “As a teacher, it was a unique experience to be able to observe my students in another environment outside of the classroom, interacting with new students and workshop leaders from all over world, learning new techniques and skills of theatre making. It was inspirational to all!”
A highlight for Van was the evening activities. After dinner in Manhattan, the students attended a Broadway show each evening. The first night was “The Cherry Orchard” Anton Chekhov’s masterpiece about a family on the edge of ruin—and a country on the brink of revolution. The second evening, students saw “Something Rotten!” This mash-up of 16th Century Shakespeare and 21st Century Broadway tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, two playwrights stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rockstar Will Shakespeare. When a soothsayer foretells the next big thing in theatre, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world’s very first MUSICAL! The show was a favorite for the whole group, as Ms. Le notes, “We really enjoyed the musical and the artistic aspects of The Cherry Orchard.”
The most valuable aspect of the experience is that Van believes the conference will help her with her IB assessments. “The conference allowed me to have a deeper understanding of theatre concepts outside of the classroom. I have a stronger understanding of methods learned in class and learned even more than I thought possible in three days!”
TaPS is a series of unique 3-day workshops specifically for students of DP Theater put on each year by the International Schools Theater Association. Students connect and collaborate with DP theater students from around the world through exposure to live, experimental theater and creative and unusual performances. TaPS takes place in six cities around the world each year, including New York City.