Site-specific Performance and Climate Change Activism:
a Theatre Practitioner
ANNIE SMITH, KENDRA FANCONI, DAVID GEARY, DENNIS GUPA & KEVIN MATTHEW WONG.
The Only Animal, a Vancouver Theatre Company led by Kendra Fanconi, has been exploring site-specific theatre creation and performance since 2005. One of their projects is the Artist Brigade, which beings arts and artists to the front lines of the climate crisis. Their most recent Artist Brigade work is Bear With Me, a series of works for digital stages created to protect an ancient forest, Dakota Bear Sanctuary. Kendra’s work has led her to interactions with other site-specific theatre makers and climate change activists who are working transnationally. Together, we offer this pre-recorded roundtable discussion which explores the specificity of place and the artist in mobilizing communities to care for the eco-systems of those places as components of the larger climate crisis. What are the implications of this focus on eco-critical theatre at this moment in time and into the future?
The roundtable discussion will grow from the following questions:
- what is your understanding of the artist's responsibility in the face of climate crisis?
- what shifts have you made in your understanding of and practice of site-specific theatre and relationship with place? Why? How do Indigenous ways of knowing and being in relationship to place inform your work?
- how do you understand the relationship of needed systemic change in arts institutions and how we are training theatre artists and academics to respond to the climate crisis and creating artistic work in a post-pandemic Canada?
- how do you practice creative relationship with partnering individuals and organizations? what role does diversity play in your partnerships? What partnerships have been most fruitful for your work–how/why?
- what is your invitation to theatre artists, educators, and scholars in this moment of crisis?
Kendra Fanconi is the Artistic Director of The Only Animal, a 16-year-old theatre company that is dedicated to solutionary outcomes for climate. She is known for her love of the impossible. Selected Credits writing/directing: World premiere of Slime, by Bryony Lavery, tinkers, based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel by Paul Harding, NiX, theatre of snow and ice, at Cultural Olympiad (Winner of Betty Mitchell Award and Vancouver’s Critic’s Choice Award). Current projects include 1000 Year Theatre and Museum of Rain. Kendra lives on traditional, unceded Shíshálh land as a farmer, a forager, partner to a philosopher, and mother to two kids who are real characters.
David Geary (Taranaki Māori) is a scriptwriter, dramaturg, director, fiction writer and poet. He works at Capilano University in North Vancouver where he teaches screenwriting in the IDF Indigenous Digital Filmmaking program, documentary, and playwriting. David’s recent work includes three short plays for Climate Change Theatre Action. He believes Covid's enforced move to online teaching and performance is our chance to reconsider how the internet can help us save the world.
Dennis D. Gupa is a theatre director and currently writing his PhD Applied Theatre dissertation at the University of Victoria on sea rituals, climate change, and applied theatre. He obtained an MFA Theatre (Directing) degree from the University of British Columbia and an MA Theatre Arts at the University of the Philippines. Dennis is one of the Asia Society’s Philippines 21 Fellows for the Arts and Culture. He currently serves as the Artistic Associate of Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Society (SEACHS) and is artist-in-residence with Ocean Networks Canada. Dennis is a Vanier Scholar.
Annie Smith, PhD, is a theatre director and facilitator, learner and educator with particular interests in Indigenous, participatory, and community-engaged theatre and ritual. She teaches in the Transformative Learning Communities Concentration in the IMA program in the Social Sciences at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio and for SFU Liberal Arts. She has published in CTR, TRIC/RTAC, Theatre Symposium and alt.theatre, as well as in Performing Turtle Island: Indigenous Theatre on the World Stage.
Kevin Matthew Wong is a theatre creator, performer, producer, facilitator and environmentalist. He is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Broadleaf Theatre, whose work merges environmentalism and live performance. His co-creation The Chemical Valley Project, created in collaboration with Aamjiwnaang First Nation Water Protectors Vanessa Gray and Beze Gray and co-creator Julia Howman, explores the relationship between environmentalism and reconciliation in Canada. kevinmatthewwong.com / broadleaftheatre.com