The Yak Pack Theatre Project 2021
Sharing the joy and drama of story-telling
In July 2021, The Yak Pack Theatre Project will return to the Spiti Valley, to share the joys and benefits of books, and story-telling performances and workshops in one of the remotest parts of the Indian Himalayas.
At the request of local people, the story we perform will explore the issue of plastic pollution, a growing problem in this sensitive environment.
The Yak Pack Theatre Project will run for 4 weeks in July 2021, with the following aims:
- To work with 'Lets Open a Book' to offer teachers and adults Story Telling workshops, to help increase reading aloud to children. This supports the movement away from rote learning towards more modern education strategies such as DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) which is used in both India and the UK.
- To bring entertaining and thought-provoking live performance to school children and families living in this isolated and impoverished 'tribal' area, and to perform a story which addresses issues of plastic pollution in Spiti, as requested by local people
- - To support the plastic pollution message of the performed story, we will work with the Spiti Tourism Board to collect litter from popular trekking routes, which will be taken out of Spiti for recycling. Some of the litter will be reused in the performance and supporting workshops.
- To increase use and awareness of new libraries in Spiti by staging performances in them, and to support their ongoing work with donations of books.
- To establish cross-cultural links between schools and organisations in the UK and in Spiti, and leave a legacy of enthusiasm for books and reading.
The Story: "Rubbish Heap Rising"
The action we enjoy on stage is a view inside the imaginative world of the reader, who opens a book to start the performance.
"Once upon a time, far from here, there lived a girl...."
The performance explores the value of community and friendship, and the way we use our resources, issues relevant to everyone, everywhere.
"Rubbish Heap Rising" is interactive, multi-sensory and light-hearted, appealing to all ages and backgrounds.
The show uses a cast of adults, children, a local narrator/translator, and audience volunteers, connecting and resonating with its audience across divisions of age, background and language
We perform all the music ourselves, enhancing the live theatre experience, and providing opportunities for the audience to join in with percussion and song. We also invite audience members to have small parts in the play if they wish, making each show unique to its audience.
Litter picks and craft workshops.
Running alongside performances will be litter picks and craft workshops. We will collect litter from popular trekking routes, which we will take out of the valley for recycling when we leave. Before that happens, the litter will be washed and used in childrens craft workshops to make percussion instruments and characters to use in the performance. This helps to underline the theme of re-use in "Rubbish Heap Rising".
Books for all
"Rubbish Heap Rising" will also be published as an illustrate-it-yourself book, which we would like to gift to every child who sees the performance.
Part of our fundraising will also be dedicated to donations of books for the libraries we visit; the books will be chosen by 'Lets Open a Book' and local librarians.
For 2021, the Yak Pack performance team will consist of The Lindsey-Clark family (Ben and Louisa, with children Ollie and Izzy) plus Penny Falzoni and Arjuna Davis. The UK team will be joined by a local performer when we arrive in Spiti.
The team needs a different skill set for the Project in 2021 - although acting and performance is still at the top of the list as everyone is part of the story-telling shows. We will also need Ben's years of experience as a story-teller in schools to design and facilitate workshops, and of course as an actor; Arjuna and Izzy's acting and gymnastic skills; Ollie's A-level art, Louisa's prop-making skills and Penny's workshop experience to work with local children to make props for the performances. Our local actor will translate the dialogue into the Spitian language during shows.
All of us are passionate about the value of books and reading to children, and can't wait to share this love with children in Spiti.
We also all care deeply about the environment, and during our visit in 2018 it was heart-breaking to see the effects of climate change and plastic pollution writ large in a beautiful wilderness. When we were asked to make the subject of the 2021 performance about plastic pollution, it was an easy YES!
The Yak Pack will meet in Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh on Monday 5th July, the official start date of the Project. In Shimla we will collect books ordered to take to libraries, and get our own book printed to take to Spiti. We will also need to get a special permit to travel to Spiti, as its right on the border with Tibet. Our journey from Shimla at 2000m to Kaza in Spiti at 4000m will take 3 days as we gradually acclimatise to the altitude. Once in Spiti we will meet up with 'Lets Open a Book', have rehearsals with our local actor, and visit local schools to prepare for workshops and performances.
We will spend the first week of the Project working in small village schools and with local teachers, with the direction of 'Lets Open a Book'. This wonderful charity has been building libraries and running workshops in the tiny Spitian villages and schools, to help children access reading. We will be supporting their work with 'reading aloud' workshops for teachers. "Rubbish Heap Rising" will be performed in government schools and libraries.
This week we will perform "Rubbish Heap Rising" for children in the larger schools on the valley floor. We'll also run craft workshops using locally collected litter to make props to feature in the show. At the weekend we will move to a higher altitude to acclimatise for Week 4.
The high plateau above the valley floor is home to people mostly living a very simple subsistence lifestyle in some of the highest villages in the world. The worlds highest polling station is here, and the worlds highest post office!
We will use popular trekking routes to travel on foot (and yak!) between these remote villages and collect litter en route.
We will invite local children to join us in workshops to make instruments and props from the collected litter, and hold performances for families at the end of the working day.
We will be guided by the Spiti tourist board to focus these clean-up efforts where it’s most needed, as they work to limit the negative impacts of tourism on these isolated communities.