Feedback for the Yarico Education Programme


How the Yarico Education Project has developed.

'Over the past decade at Trestle we have been working to create projects and resources that will excite and inspire teachers and educational establishments, whilst also providing them with content and tools that support and enhance excellent teaching. We want our programmes to be useful and useable and to this end have developed this educational programme with teachers, educationalists and artists.

When I first heard the true story of Yarico, a young woman who saved and loved a man who then repaid her by selling her into slavery, I was intrigued and immediately wanted to know more and find out why none of us have heard of her. To have found her way into a 17th century manuscript, I imagine that she must have been remarkable to listen to as well as to look at; as with many incredible women throughout history her story, until now, has been dominated by the man in the tale or left to fade into obscurity. Now she has been rediscovered I feel privileged to be bringing her back into focus, sharing her story through fact and fiction and alerting people of all ages and backgrounds to the issues embedded in her tale.

In bringing her story to life through theatre and drama we can explore Yarico’s world and her experience as well as relating it to the contemporary plights of women who are exploited and enslaved. Yarico is a woman from a Native American culture, a saviour, a lover, a mother, a slave, a freedom fighter; in the nineteenth century a children’s alphabet book described ‘Y is for Yarico’, showing how popular she must have been at that time. I believe that she has much to say to us today and hope that this programme will support you in discovering more about her, relating that to the present and inspiring people to engage with the basic questions of how we value and treat other human beings; the crucial questions which touch every one of us.

I hope you enjoy this material and please let us know about your discoveries and creations.'

- Emily

Emily Gray, Artistic Director Trestle Theatre Company & Director of Yarico The Musical

About Trestle Theatre Co.

Trestle is a mask and physical theatre company, with a highly regarded arts education programme. As a charity, our mission is to engage children, young people and adults in creative activity, which aims to enhance the cultural quality of their experiences.

Trestle has been making innovative and inspirational physical theatre and participation projects since 1981. All of our work is influenced by full and half mask; however, over the past decade, collaborations with artists from India, Spain, Eastern Europe and Africa, along with our partners in the UK, have inspired the evolution of the work we create.

Trestle is one of the leading providers of school workshops, teacher training and participation programmes in the country. We run mask, half mask, physical theatre and bespoke workshops, projects and residencies nationally and internationally.

Trestle Arts Base in St Albans is home to Trestle Theatre Company, from here we support the development and performance of new, high quality, professional productions. There are weekly classes, community events and meetings, as well as spaces for performance research and development.

Developed in 2015 following the highly successful run of the new culturally diverse musical of the same name, directed by Trestle’s artistic director Emily Gray and produced by John and Jodie Kidd. The show ran at The London Theatre Workshop, between 17 February 2015 – 28 March 2015. This powerful and epic new musical of forbidden love, betrayal and redemption is based on a true story that fired the world’s imagination and contributed to a social movement against the slave trade.

Yarico is the true story of a seventeenth century Amerindian woman; she saved the life of a British merchant who then sold her into slavery on Barbados. The issues within her story create the foundation of the project and include ideological and theatrical exploration of ‘being enslaved’ in both historical and contemporary contexts, culturally diverse relationships and the power of music as a tool for expression in response to adversity.

Funded by Arts Council England and The Beaverbrook Foundation, the project celebrates Black History and is supported by developed digital engagement and is particularly aimed at reaching diverse communities and participants, focusing on secondary schools and cross departmental collaborations.

The project will roll out across the UK during 2016 and unites Trestle’s highly regarded and well established arts education programme with its proven track record for creating inspirational physical theatre and participation projects. All of Trestle’s work is influenced by full and half mask; however, over the past decade, collaborations with artists from India, Spain, Eastern Europe and Africa, along with partners in the UK, have stimulated the evolution of the work the company create. These partnerships have inspired Trestle to consider extensive social, historical and cultural contexts and enabled the company to make links to the wider curriculum.