Since January this year, Sadie Robinson, Charlie Doyle, Lily Adams, Cecilia Doran, Gregory Black, Ruby Roberts-Nightingale, Matthew Marsland, Theo Lavin and Michal Borkowski have been meeting their international friends via online platforms to creatively plan the content of the films with director Dinos Aristidou.

Each student recorded a personal story of a special experience during the pandemic, wherever they were in the world. The audios were made by students in China, Hong Kong, United States, Kenya, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Chester.
The audios were sent anonymously to another of the students in a different country who were then tasked with bringing it to life as a short film. The films were then brought together by film director Mike Bindon, based in Belgium.

A student from each of the countries worked online with composer Matt Baker, based in Chester, in creating the songs and musical underscore, while another student from each location captured some images and film footage of their village, city or township.
The students were even able to create choreography with dance director Helen Abbott, which features throughout the films, as the students filmed the work in locations which demonstrate the real variety of places in the world from which they are drawn.

The project has been delivered by ISTA (International Schools Theatre Association), a British based company which delivers theatre programmes and festivals with students in every corner of the world.
Unable to host international festivals because of the pandemic, the organisation has been at the forefront of discovering innovative ways to deliver quality theatre, music and film projects which still connect people across the globe.
This is the first of ISTA’s global digital projects which includes the making of two films which will be premiered online on Saturday and Sunday, September 25-26.
The films are entitled 2020 Vision and Diary of an Extraordinary Year. There will be an online social gathering at which all the students will be able to celebrate and reflect on their phenomenal experience.

he brainchild behind the project was British based director Dinos Aristidou, who has delivered other verbatim projects, most recently in Brighton.
Dinos, who wrote a piece of theatre for Chester’s Gateway Theatre in the 1990s, said: “The pieces are extraordinary, very moving and more than I could have hoped for. They are truly a testament to the human spirit, to young people’s creativity and to the fact that even in difficult times art flourishes, thrives and innovates.”

He added: “I feel so proud to be able to say, when in the future people ask what we did during the pandemic, that we can all say we worked together across boundaries to create, to capture our experiences and to connect with others.”

Chester based Matt Baker was responsible for creating the songs and music with the students through online workshops. Matt said: “Whilst the world was locked inside its houses it was actually an incredible experience to write lyrics and music and create themes with students who gathered online all the same time; some had just woken up, some about to have lunch, and some staying up late to meet me online.”
He added: “There were moments where a student in USA and Kenya would work on lyrics, a student in Chester would offer a chord progression, and a student in Germany would suggest a musical riff. Then each of the students would go away and record their singing, which we would then stitch together. That would not have happened before the pandemic. It was incredible.”
The Chester students were drawn from Theatre in the Quarter ’s teenage programme Quartz which meets every Tuesday.

During the pandemic, and additional to the international project, Quartz members had been creating films through similar processes. They are now thrilled to be meeting face-to-face in the creation of a new piece of theatre ready for December.
Matt said: “Anyone interested in being part of such a creative team of young people can email enquiries@theatreinthequarter.co.uk.”
Information about the international digital projects can be found at https://ista.co.uk/event/a-festival-of-verbatim-theatre

Here is one of the films