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Nuns of Khachoe Ghakyil
Women's Freedom and Spiritual Liberation:
2000 European Tour
Instructions for local organizers

Note: This document is also included in the information pack sent to all organizers.

1.   Publicity

Publicity is the key to good audience turnout, and it is important to start working on it weeks before the performance date. The press kit (available from Ven. Fran Mohoupt) includes a background press release and a master copy of a poster that you can reproduce at your end according to your needs. Before reproducing the poster, please fill in your information of date, place and time of the event. We have both black and white and colour photos available, but we would like to know how many you need before we ship them.

Web custodian's notes

a) Several photographs have been scanned and are available from the Organizer resources page for download, in the form of colour JPEGs for Web use and black-and-white print-quality JPEGs (300 dpi) for printing.
b) If you will be hosting a sand-mandala performance by the nuns, you might like to order photographic cards of sand mandalas in advance, to sell at the event.  Tony Bounsall has photographs of the Medicine Buddha sand mandala and the Chenrezig/Avalokiteshvara sand mandala.  See the products page for more information on ordering these.

2.   Press Release

Please make copies of the press release for all the newspapers in your area. Type in or paste over the date, place, and time of your performance in the first paragraph, and be sure to include the name of the designated contact person who will answer questions about the performance, with work and home phone numbers. Copy the press clippings and include them with one or two work and home phone numbers. Copy the press clippings and include them with one or two photos for each paper. You can also include a press release about your own organization, with any other information that might be of local interest. BE SURE TO INCLUDE THE DATE, TIME, AND PLACE OF THE PERFORMANCE.

3.  Get the Information into the Right Hands

Remember that free newspaper publicity is one of the two main keys to the success of your show. It is important not only to send the press kit to the newspaper, but to see that it gets into the hands of an editor or writer who is really interested in writing a good piece about the performance. This can be accomplished by:

Calling the newspaper directly and asking to speak to the editor of the Entertainment, Arts and Culture, or Living sections. Tell them that this performance is unique in that it is the first time that Tibetan nuns have toured with this kind of performance. If the editor or writer seems genuinely interested, then send the material directly to him or her.

Contacting the local performing arts centre and asking them for a list of critics who cover their shows. Then proceed as above.

Be sure to follow up with phone calls to make sure that they have received your information, and ask them if they have any questions. If the contact is not as excited as you are, then try to find someone else. Just because a paper has the press kit does not mean that they will use it well!

If time permits and the nuns are in town a day before the performance, arrange an interview for them. Other strategies for using the nuns to promote your performance are discussed below.

Weekly newspapers, entertainment magazines, New Age journals and local neighbourhood papers have event calendars and are often looking for interesting stories. Many local radio stations also have event calendars. Be sure to get the information about your show in to these calendars before their deadlines. Deadlines for free listings are often several weeks before the event.

4.   Television

The second key to success is television coverage. Television, together with free coverage in local newspapers, will make the difference between a sell-out performance and mediocre attendance. Send a press kit to your local television station and make contact with the News Department and try to get them interested in the nuns or in the preliminary events you plan to publicize the performance. Emphasize that the colourful costumes and high-energy dancing make very good video.

Often stations will offer to send a camera crew to the show itself, but this will not help you sell any tickets. The key is to get on TV the day before the show. It is worthwhile for you to try some of the ideas mentioned below to get some free TV time. A minute on the evening news will reach more people than any other effort you can make. You can also talk to the stations about Public Service Announcements.

If time permits, Ven. Fran Mohoupt (the leader of the tour), together with a couple of other nuns, can do an interview on a local talk show.

5.  Create News Around the Nuns

Often the best way to get on TV is to get the cameras to come to you. If time permits, you may be able to use one of these strategies to create an event that will bring the local TV and radio crews to cover it.

Arrange to have the nuns bless your city. The nuns can perform a short, ten-minute ceremony in a public space for the good health and welfare of the city. Invite the mayor and local dignitaries. Make sure the TV stations understand how telegenic it will be to have ten Tibetan nuns in robes with bells and drums chanting a blessing for the welfare of all the citizens. And make sure they will have the details of the performance, which is the reason the nuns are in town.

Stage a preview of the show. Arrange to have the nuns perform one dance in a public space. Grade schools love to have the nuns come and do a bit of chanting and a costumed dance, and it makes good TV. Once again, make sure the media knows about it, and also hand out flyers about the upcoming show to everyone who passes by.

Use your imagination and develop other ways of getting the media interested in covering the event you are planning. But if you do plan to try one of these pre-show events, please contact us to be sure that your plans fit into the nuns’ travel schedule.

Radio stations also announce upcoming events, and sometimes they like to co-sponsor the event. Be sure to mention that this is a not-for-profit benefit. You can arrange a radio interview by telephone in advance while the nuns are still on the road.

6.   Direct Mail

Print as many flyers as you think you will need to get the word out. You can work with a local university or non-profit group to get a cheaper bulk rate for mailing. Ask for mailing lists (one-time-only use) from local groups that may have an affinity for this sort of event, or ask if you may include your flyers in their mailout.

7.  Posters

You will need to reproduce the required number of posters needed for your event. The master poster provided by Ven. Fran will have a blank space for you to imprint or attach labels with your performance information (date, time, place, price) and if possible, where tickets can be purchased in advance. Early ticket sales generally improve your turnout, but it is not absolutely necessary. Postering services will put up your posters in strategic places. Contact your library to get posters in all of their branches free of charge.

8.   Receptions

You can arrange a pre-performance reception or pot-luck dinner, which raises additional funds, and gives those who attend some special consideration such as preferred seating, special introductions and so forth. Send free tickets to the reception/pot-luck to local government notables, university department heads, corporate personages, and others who might help generate interest in others about the show.

You can also send a few complimentary performance tickets to media news people who will review or write about the performance.

Finally, the more people you talk with about this, the more ideas and contacts you will make that will help to spread the word about the show. People get excited about having Tibetan nuns bringing their sacred culture to the community, so get the word out to anyone who might be helpful.

Please, would you be kind enough to send us copies of the press clippings from your town. This will help us to provide current information for the following performances.

9.  Performance Space Requirements

An auditorium, performing arts centre, theatre, ballroom with a stage, or a church with a raised platform in the altar area are all suitable places for the performance. The show works best when the stage is close to the audience, without an orchestra pit.

The performance can take place in an area that is at least 20 feet deep and 20 feet across. If the area is larger, it is better. The nuns require a backstage with wings for their entrances and exits. In some places, like ballrooms, where this is not possible, a draped screen arrangement can simulate wings to the side of the stage. Also, the nuns need an area to keep their props and to change costumes. This can be done backstage, in a small room offstage, or behind a drop curtain. A large table here will be useful. It would be greatly appreciated are provided backstage during the performance, as the nuns’ throats get dry. Water and fruit juice should be available.

In the lobby, entranceway, or foyer of the hall, we will require 2 or 3 eight-foot tables (or their equivalent) for exclusive sales of Tibetan cultural items, books, incense and so forth.

10.  Preparation for the Performance

We will need access to the performance space at least two hours before an evening performance. We will need a technical person who is familiar with your facility’s electrical outlets, fuse boards, location of extension cords, lighting board and instruments, sound system, microphones, and two-way communication between the lighting booth and backstage. (If the performance happens to be on a weekend, the building’s electrician may have the day off and the lights and microphones may be locked up. Please be sure to check on this beforehand.)

Our setup and sound check can usually be accomplished within one hour. If the size or shape of the theatre requires us to make alterations to our normal setup, it may take longer.

11.   Lighting and Sound

The lighting requirements are simple. We need nothing complicated, just strong, direct light, preferably focused on the front half of the stage. A touch of amber or red gels can help to create mood, but gels are not mandatory. If it is available, a stationary spotlight should be focused downstage left or right; the narrator will speak from this spot. This instrument should be on a separate circuit from the rest of the lights, so that it can be switched on when the narrator is performing and off when she exits. Whichever side is best equipped for sound, space and electrical connections is the side the narrator will work from.

We will need you to provide someone to help run the lights during the show. This person will have to run the house lights, and should know their way around the light board. He or she should attend the set-up session prior to the performance. One of our troupe members will know the light cues and can run the board, but every theatre we play is different, so it is necessary to have someone on hand who can show us how things work. Our light cues are simple: stage lights ON when the nuns are on stage; OFF after exits; spotlight on when the narrator is speaking.

We will also need to use the sound system of your theatre. The ideal one is one lavalier mike for the narrator, and two general-purpose choral mikes on stands, which will be carried on and off for some of the vocal pieces. Cordless mikes are okay if you have a technician who can handle them. Corded mikes are fine as long as there is enough cable to reach the centre of the stage. We do not mike the musicians, as the drums and cymbals are quite loud.

It is helpful but not necessary if there is a two-way communication system between the light booth and backstage. What is most helpful is to have a theatre technician from the facility on hand during set-up and to help us run the sound and lights during the show.

Normally we can set up and run a sound check in less than one hour. However, if your facility does not have an ordinary stage or is unusual in any way, please allow extra time for setting up. In these cases let us know well in advance what we will encounter before we arrive, and try to arrange a set-up earlier in the day so that we have time to work out any adaptations we need to make for the space.

12.  Hosting the Khachoe Ghakyil Nuns

The touring party consists of twelve women: eleven nuns and one driver. They travel by van, pulling a trailer. The van and trailer make up quite a long rig, so please give some consideration to parking. Security is also a factor – the trailer will contain all the costumes and instruments for the show – so please plan for a VERY SAFE location where it can be parked before and after the show. This usually means someone’s driveway or fenced property. We don’t like to leave it on the street.

13.   Sleeping Arrangements

We generally stay at local Dharma centres, or the homes of people who have the space to accommodate two, three, four, five or more. Ideally, if the entire group can be housed in one location, transportation and cooking are simplified.

The nuns have sleeping bags and are content to sleep on the floor, as long as they are supplied with futons, couch cushions or mats of some kind. They suffer from bad backs when they have to sleep directly on a carpeted floor. They do use pillows. To the extent possible the nuns appreciate beds or couches to sleep on, but when 12 beds can not be found, a living room floor makes an adequate bivouac, as long as everyone has some kind of mat or cushion to sleep on.

14.  Food

The nuns are not vegetarians. They are quite happy to cook for themselves when there is time, though they will need you to take them shopping for provisions. A typical day’s menu might be:

Breakfast: Tibetan tea (black tea, butter, milk, salt); hard-boiled eggs; bread or bagels, butter and jam.
Lunch: White rice and dal (cooked lentils) with beef; or rice with fried vegetables and beef.
Dinner: Thukpa (noodle soup made with beef, onions, tomatoes and either store-bought egg noodles or home-made noodles made from flour and water).

They do not eat much in the way of sweets, but fresh fruit and sometimes ice cream is appreciated. Canned soda pop and fruit juice is also a good idea, especially when the weather is warm.

Of course, it is not always feasible for the nuns to cook for themselves. For example, it is nice if a lunch or dinner is prepared for them when they arrive. On the night of the performance they prefer to have a light snack of sandwiches etc. around 5:00 pm, and then to have a post-show meal of noodle soup or Chinese food.

If you are cooking for them, just keep it simple. Noodles, rice, or potatoes, and beef or chicken, cooked simply, with vegetables, and then fruit for dessert, makes a great meal. If the nuns are scattered at several houses, it works well to assign one house with a large kitchen (and willing hosts) to be the meeting place for meals and other events during their stay. Breakfast can be taken at the homes where they sleep, but they can gather for lunch and dinner.

Restaurants are another option, but a much more expensive one. If you plan to take them out to eat, they like buffets, particularly Indian or Chinese food. Often Thai, and occasionally Chinese restaurants are willing to offer a meal for free to Buddhist nuns if you contact them in advance. A take-out meal can work very well after the show when it is late and no one has had time to cook.

15.   During the performance

It would be greatly appreciated if refreshments are provided backstage during the performance, as the nuns’ throats get dry. Water and fruit juice should be available.

Assisting in striking the set and reloading the van after the show will be appreciated. Everyone finds hosting the nuns a delightful experience and we know that you will enjoy it!

Good luck and many thanks for your work.
The Khachoe Ghakyil nuns look forward to seeing you!



Sacred performance | Ritual music | Sand mandalas | The nuns of KGN | Image gallery
CD recording | European tour itinerary (in German) | Info for organizers | Support the nuns! | Related links

Khachoe Ghakyil 1999-2002
Web custodian Julia Milton
Hosted by Women Active in Buddhism.