The Thousand Year Theatre started as an idea to plant a botanical ‘set’ from BC’s native forest species that will take a millennium to mature. It is designed to be used for outdoor theatre shows in 1000 years’ time, with every year between now and then offering a variety of short-scale and longer, durational art forms. It is a collaboration with the future that aims to build a Culture of Stewardship in a time where native species like cedar are showing stress from climate change. Our work of stewardship is critical to protect this rare low-elevation coastal rainforest. The Thousand Year Theatre is a fierce belief in the future and a growing reminder for our human community that Human Nature is Nature itself.
The Thousand Year Theatre takes place on the lands of the shíshálh and Skwxwú7mesh, who since ancient times, have sustainably stewarded this land. The Only Animal artists honour these Nations in the example they have set for this work. The Thousand Year Theatre also takes place in the proposed, expanded, 2100-hectare Mt Elphinstone Provincial Park. The Only Animal has been dedicated to this preservation of an intact ecosystem for the past decade.
To begin The Thousand Year Theatre, we applied to the Ministry of Forests and Natural Resources to lease a site on Mt Elphinstone that was clear-cut one year ago. We envisioned a 10-year renewable lease that we would strive to renew 100 times. The Ministry responded by saying they will consider our request… in 2 years.
We didn’t want to wait to begin. And we realized that we had an emerging version of The Thousand Year Theatre regrowing from clear cuts on the slopes of Mt Elphinstone. So we decided to start there. And, you know, these sites are ravaged ones: clear-cuts are replanted as mono-cropped tree farms. This is not with the same regenerative stewardship that The Only Animal intends. However, there is a resiliency in Nature. There is the urge of Life, pushing down and up at once, an undeniable force with native species finding their way and making their homes. You will see that in the Year 1, Year 7, and Year 25 sites. On each of the sites are trails that play with interactive theatre, sculpture and fine art created by artists Kendra Fanconi, Cody Chancellor, Julie Andreyev and Lara Felsing, inviting you to fall in love with the natural world. They are sites that have been tended by us for you, and we have found much beauty there we want to share.
These three pieces are our prototype for The Thousand Year Theatre and will run for at least the next year, to be visited in your own time. They are intended for people of all ages. You can do all three in a day or in multiple trips. Take care to check the accessibility notes on each of the pages to see if the piece is right for you. These are unguarded wilderness locations, and you are responsible for your own transport and safety. We hope you enjoy the show.