The Yak Pack
Telling tales, Trekking Theatre
The Yak Pack Theatre Project 2022
Sharing the joy and drama of story-telling
In July 2022, 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.
Originally planned for 2021, The Yak Pack Theatre Project will now run for 4 weeks in July 2022, with the following aims:
- 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, with advice from 'Lets Open a Book'.
- To leave a legacy of enthusiasm for books and reading.
The Story: "Little Red Riding Hood"
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...."
Through the lens of the classic tale 'Little Red Riding Hood', the performance explores the problem of plastic pollution, an issue relevant to everyone, everywhere.
"Little Red Riding Hood" 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 dance 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 props to use in the performance. Underlining the theme of re-use.
Books for all
We have published a simple booklet of 'Little Red Riding Hood' as an illustrate-it-yourself book, which uses the same narration heard in Hindi or Spitian during the show, as the text for the book, to increase understanding. We plan to gift a book to every child at the government schools which we visit.
We have also collected donations of 100 simple picture books in English (eg Julia Donaldson, etc) which will be donated to school libraries, and to the teachers lending library at Spiti Childrens Room. We also have 10 large classroom 'read aloud' books, which will help teachers with reading aloud in English to their classes.
For 2022, 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 local performer Kaku when we arrive in Spiti.
The team needs a different skill set for the Project in 2022 - 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 a musician and actor; Arjuna and Izzy's acting and gymnastic skills; Ollie's passion for books, Louisa's prop-making skills and Penny's workshop and teaching experience to work with local children to make props for the performances. Our local actor Kaku will translate the dialogue into the Spitian language during shows, and we'll have a local creative on our workshop team.
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 2022 performance about plastic pollution, it was an easy YES!
The Yak Pack will meet in Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday 3rd July, the official start date of the Project. In Shimla we will soure props which didnt fit in our backpacks, 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 our local partners, have rehearsals including Kaku, and visit schools to prepare for workshops and performances.
We will spend the first week of the Project performing and running workshops in small village schools, selected by local people. Many of these village schools are really tiny, with minimal resources, who would never normally have this kind of curriculum enrichment. We'll bring books to donate to their book corners.
This week we'll perform with students in the larger schools on the valley floor. Through our collaboration with Spiti Ecosphere, we'll perform at a nunnery and a monastery (where many children are educated) and at a home for retired nuns. 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 craft workshops to make props from the collected litter, and hold performances for families at the end of the working day.
We will be guided by Spitian organisations 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.