Fondazione Barba Varley promoted the birth of ISTA/NG, International School of Theatre Anthropology – New Generation.

Conceived and directed by Eugenio Barba, this training and research project aims to share and transmit theatre knowledge.

It involves a new generation of theatre/dance artists from different cultures and integrates teaching methods with new digital technologies.

ISTA/NG is a new addition to Eugenio Barba’s forty-year training and research activity on theatre anthropology. Eugenio Barba, director ofOdin Teatret, is considered one of the masters and reformers of the 20th century theatre.

Since 1979, Barba has started an innovative field of studies on the common technical principles that underlie and guide the stage presence of actors and dancers in all cultures, and which he defines as “Theatre Anthropology”.

ISTA New Generation

The following year he created ISTA (International School of Theatre Anthropology), an itinerant international laboratory of comparative studies on the principles of the actor/dancer’s technique.

Its team of scholars, experts from various disciplines and theatre/dance artists from various cultures, carries out research activities all over the world.

ISTA/NG is an initiative of the Barba Varley Foundation. It extends the training and research project to a young generation of artists and new technologies, with didactic courses, transmission of incorporated knowledge, encounters and dialogues between groups of different ages and experience.

ISTA/NG session on the island of Favignana

The ISTA/NG (International School of Theatre Anthropology/New Generation) session, directed by Eugenio Barba, was held on the island of Favignana (Italy), in the period 12-22 October 2021, with the theme “Presence of the Actor and Perception of the Spectator”.

The session was organised by the Fondazione Barba Varley in collaboration with Linee Libere and Teatro Proskenion (Italy), Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium-Odin Teatret (Denmark) and The Grotowski Institute (Poland).

The teaching staff consisted of Eugenio Barba, Keiin Yoshimura (Japan), Parvathy Baul (India), I Wayan Bawa (Bali), Alício Amaral and Juliana Pardo (Cia. Mundu Rodá, Brazil), Lydia Koniordou (Greece), Kapila Venu (India), Alessandro Rigoletti, Caterina Scotti and Tiziana Barbiero (Teatro tascabile di Bergamo, Italy), Julia Varley (Odin Teatret, Denmark), Ana Woolf (Argentina).

Artists from different traditions of theatre and dance, in collaboration with Eugenio Barba, worked with 53 participants from 21 countries on the pre-expressive level of their styles, which is to say on the level of stage presence.

In the ISTA/NG session, theatre and dance teachers from different traditions retraced the first steps of their apprenticeship. Throughout the day they exemplified with practical work and demonstrations, how they learned and embodied their specific technique.

Participants had the opportunity to experience the “first day” by becoming aware of the principles that animate the physical and mental know-how of an actor/dancer. During the demonstrations and biographical stories, the participants had the opportunity to learn about personal and intercultural paths of the social presence of the actor/dancer artists.

Each teacher presented a performance to which the local population was invited. For participants and artists, this presential encounter after two years of restrictions due to the pandemic was an experience that instilled a lot of energy.

ISTA/NG took into consideration the economic contingencies created by the coronavirus, and simultaneously proposed a digital course in theatre anthropology for those who could not participate in person to the session in Favignana. The ten-lesson digital course was entitled: “Learning to see, Introduction to Theatre Anthropology, The Presence of the Actor/Dancer and the Perception of the Spectator”.

The course, conceived and directed by Eugenio Barba and Julia Varley, consisted of ten lessons for a total of fifty hours. Each lesson was introduced by Eugenio Barba and included a part with archive material and videos of the previous ISTA sessions, a part with live streaming of the lessons, explanations and theoretical-practical demonstrations during the ISTA/NG session in Favignana, an interactive part of an hour of dialogue with the artists present in Favignana directed by Leonardo Mancini.

The ten lessons dealt with the main themes of theatre anthropology: the technical principles common to actors and dancers of different cultures, the difference between everyday behaviour and extra-daily behaviour, the pre-expressive level and the construction of stage presence, animus/anima (strong and soft energy), the actor/dancer’s strategies to capture the attention of the spectators and the effect on their kinesthetic sense and on their perception.

Presence of the Actor and Perception of the Spectator

The ISTA/NG (International School of Theatre Anthropology/New Generation) session, directed by Eugenio Barba, was held on the island of Favignana (Italy), in the period 12-22 October 2021, with the theme “Presence of the Actor and Perception of the Spectator”.

Interview with Eugenio Barba, ISTA/NG 2023