ISTA, International School of Theatre Anthropology, was founded in 1979. Conceived and directed by Eugenio Barba, it is based in Holstebro, Denmark. ISTA is a multicultural network of performers and scholars giving life to an itinerant university whose main field of study is Theatre Anthropology.
ISTA researches into the technical basis of the performer in a transcultural dimension. The objective of this methodological choice, deriving from an empirical approach, is the understanding of the fundamental principles which engender the performer's "presence" or "scenic life".
ISTA holds open sessions periodically on the request of national and international cultural institutions which provide the necessary funding. Each session has a different theme defining a particular field which is investigated through practical classes, work demonstrations and comparative analysis. Each time, a limited number of actors, dancers, directors, choreographers, scholars and critics can apply to participate.
Theatre Anthropology should not be confused with cultural anthropology. It is a new field of study applied to the human being in an organised performance situation.
Since its start in 1980, ISTA sessions have been held in the following places: Bonn (Germany, 1980), Volterra and Pontedera (Italy, 1981), Blois and Malakoff (France, 1985), Holstebro (Denmark, 1986), Salento (Italy, 1987), Bologna (Italy, 1990), Brecon and Cardiff (Great Britain, 1992), Londrina (Brazil, 1994), Umeå (Sweden, 1995), Copenhagen (Denmark, 1996), Montemor-o-Novo and Lisbon (Portugal, 1998), Bielefeld (Germany, 2000), Seville (Spain, 2004) and Wroclaw (Poland, 2005).