Landscapes Theatre Part 1 - Puppet Days at Fish Lake

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As part of our Landscapes Theatre project earlier this summer, Nakai Theatre held three days of drop-in theatre workshops for local First Nations youth at the fish camp of Dianne Smith at Fish Lake.

Each morning, after everyone arrived at the fish camp, we held an opening circle and prayer led by elder Dianne Smith; we then spent the rest of the mornings and afternoons building puppets and costumes, playing outdoor theatre games, and improvising theatre performances in the woods and on the shores of Fish Lake. The goal was to immerse ourselves into our surroundings with imaginative openness and to experiment with puppetry and theatre in the landscape.

Over the three days, youth took creative initiative in the designing and building of large-scale puppets from scratch with local found materials and with supplies brought by Nakai. By the last day we had a huge collection of puppets, ranging from unicorns, dragonflies, large fish, birds, and Pac-Men. 

At the end of each day, we made time for a final performance utilizing what we’d built that day, in some of the sites we’d explored earlier. While the performances were mainly improvised, we worked to think about character, plot, staging, and audience. 

The workshops were led by Nakai AD Jacob Zimmer and frequent Nakai collaborator Veronique Lachance, and were undertaken as a partnership with Kwanlin Dun First Nation Youth Recreation, who helped in invaluable ways to recruit interested youth and provide transportation and support. For this project, we received funding from the Yukon Government through the Community Development Fund and the Youth Investment Fund, from the Canada Council of the Arts First Spark Initiative, and from the Hamber Foundation. We also received local sponsorship from Home Hardware. We are incredibly grateful to Dianne Smith for hosting us.