It was the warmest winter in 126 years, which didn’t bode well for Canada’s first theatre made of snow and ice – about 20 truckloads of it, in fact. NiX, an immersive show by theatre group The Only Animal, was set to open in Whistler, B.C., as part of the Culture Olympiad for the 2010 Winter Games. Tech week was in full swing and lighting levels were being tweaked. But when Kendra Fanconi, The Only Animal’s artistic director, stepped outside for a moment, she noticed something strange at her feet.
“Where there should have been four feet of snow, there was grass,” she recalls. The theatre was melting.
Until then, Fanconi had always viewed climate change as part of the future. In that moment, she understood it was part of her present. Today, The Only Animal traces its focus on the natural world back to NiX. The theatre group, one of the winners of the Rewilding Arts Prize presented by Rewilding Magazine and the David Suzuki Foundation, works with a “brigade” of 100 artists to produce site-specific shows that explore solutions to the environmental crisis. Its stage is the natural world: water, sand, snow, ice, trees. So far it has produced 30 shows, winning several awards along the way.