ABOUT THE ONLY ANIMAL
Why we do what we do…
The Only Animal creates immersive work that arises from a deep engagement with place and people. The natural world is our medium. Our work seeks to re/connect our human nature with Nature and forge new ways of understanding how to be on earth.
The Only Animal is only Human, we strive to make art in a way that is sustainable, joyful and treads lightly on the earth. We work to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in our organization, with our artists, and in cultivating our audiences.
We act on natural stages and human possibility where we meet the enormous challenges of our times that threaten our existence as a species. We seek creative ways forward and solutionary actions. We have broad shoulders and the ability to undertake ambitious projects. We create art to stir the soul and revitalize the planet.
How we got here…
Founded in 2005 by Kendra Fanconi and Eric Rhys Miller, The Only Animal started as a way to change the world through the creative disruption of everyday life with large-scale site-specific theatre events. ‘Other Freds’ was a clown show with a cast of 135, boats and a bicycle ballet on False Creek. Our play-in-a-pool, ‘The One That Got Away’, won the Audience’s Choice for the best show in the 10-year history of Canada’s Magnetic North theatre festival. ‘NiX’, a theatrical fantasy built of snow and ice, was part of the 2010 Cultural Olympiad and initiated our work with the natural world as our primary media.
Our youth climate education program, ‘Generation Hot’, combined climate literacy, creative tools and mentorship for climate theatre creation. Community-engaged practice in DTES started with projects like ‘Out on a Limb’ and ‘2nd Story’.
Our Mainstage work into art for social change began with ‘Tinkers’, the first adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, and part of a ten-show series to save an endangered, old-growth forest. In 2018, we co-created the world premiere of ‘Slime’ by Bryony Lavery, with the Banff Centre which featured the voice of 100 animals threatened by the climate emergency. Over 15 years we created over 30 shows which were nominated for 40 Jessie Awards – winning eight, including Outstanding Production and three Significant Artistic Achievement awards. We embrace the values of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, especially as it relates to Climate Justice.
Between 2020-2023, with funding from the Vancouver Foundation, The Only Animal created the Artist Brigade, a movement that supported 100 artists with climate resources, finances, field trips, workshop experiences, community building, and the commissioning of eight artists to create climate pieces based on their unique lived experience.
Urgency | Solutionary | Action | Creativity | Boldness | Generosity | Earth Care | Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility | Aligning with the Science | Carbon budgeting | Buy Nothing New | No-Fly Company | Local Focus | Global Responsibility
Healthy Workplace Overview
(as of September 10, 2022)
The Only Animal adheres to the laws covered by;
The Only Animal also follows, when applicable, the generally accepted industry best practices of;
- Canadian Theatre Agreement (Professional Association of Canadian Theatres/Canadian Actors’ Equity Association)
- Associated Designers of Canada
PHYSICAL HEALTH: Physical well being is also an ongoing priority for all of our activities. Our risk response is informed by 15 years of creating site-specific work in extreme outdoor locations including snow, rain, sand, working waterways, and wilderness. Our impeccable safety record comes from our core team’s obsession with logistics, coordination, practices and training. Through the development process a deep knowledge of place develops, which helps us identify potential dangers to put protocols in place well before production. The Only Animal’s ethics ensures safety and consent for all participants.
COVID-19: The Only Animal remains hyper aware of the risk of infectious disease (COVID-19) in our dealing with the public and employees. As the event structure and circumstance of each project is relatively unique, we develop specific COVID-related policies for each project that are current to the letter of, and the broader intent of any existing Public Health Orders as well as public sentiment and any specific hazards as dictated by the specific project. Individual COVID-related issues are dealt with within the existing Healthy Workplace policies.
CLIMATE CHANGE AWARENESS: The Only Animal acknowledges we live in a climate emergency and its effects on our Staff, Board and Artists health and wellness. All contracts and communications with workers reflect this awareness in the workspace to reduce stress and anxiety related to the Climate Emergency and our participation and contribution to Climate Change. All projects are conceived, planned and executed with this awareness, reflecting our core values as a no-fly company, our buy-nothing-new aesthetic and integrating carbon budgeting in all projects.
SPECIFIC POLICIES: The Only Animal adheres to the following specific, Board-approved policies as a matter of purposeful direction:
- Our Community Agreement
- Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy
- Protect Pathways
- Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) Policy
- Accessibility Statement
(as of September 10, 2022)
Within all of our current contracts, we have eased the use of arbitrary and employer-weighted language and include the following.
The Only Animal creates immersive work that arises from a deep engagement with place. Our work seeks to re/connect our human nature with Nature. Here we forge new ways of understanding how to be on earth.
The Only Animal strives to make theatre in a way that is sustainable, joyful and treads lightly on the earth. We work for inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility in our organization, with our artists, and our audiences.
We act on huge stages; the forests, the ocean, human possibility. There we find enormous challenges of the times, including the climate challenges that threaten our existence as a species. We seek creative ways forward and solutionary actions. We have broad shoulders and the ability to undertake ambitious projects. We love the impossible. We make work to thrill the blood, stir the soul and revitalize the planet.
Our values include Urgency, Solutionary Action, Climate Justice, Creativity, Generosity, Earth Care, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, Aligning with the Science, Carbon Budgeting in line with 1.5°C temperature rise, Buying Nothing New, No-Flying, Local Focus, Global Responsibility.
We commit to having a No Tolerance policy for harassment, prejudice, and discrimination towards anyone based on race, gender, sexual identification, or ability visible within our meeting, project, and performance spaces. Please see our Protected Pathways statement for further details.
Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy
(as of September 10, 2022)
The Only Animal is committed to providing an environment free of discrimination and harassment, where all individuals are treated with respect and dignity, can contribute fully and have equal opportunities.
Under the British Columbia Human Rights Code, every person has the right to be free from harassment and discrimination. Harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated, condoned or ignored at The Only Animal. If a claim of harassment or discrimination is proven, disciplinary measures will be applied, up to and including termination of employment/contract.
The Only Animal is committed to a comprehensive strategy to address harassment and discrimination, including:
- regularly monitoring organizational systems for barriers relating to Code grounds
- providing an effective and fair complaints procedure
- promoting appropriate standards of conduct at all times.
To make sure that members, performers, clients, contractors and associates of The Only Animal are aware that harassment and discrimination are unacceptable practices and are incompatible with the standards of this organization, as well as being a violation of the law.
The right to freedom from discrimination and harassment extends to all workers, including full-time, part-time, temporary, probationary, casual and contract staff, as well as volunteers, co-op students, interns and apprentices. It is also unacceptable for members of The Only Animal to engage in harassment or discrimination when dealing with clients, or with others they have professional dealings with, such as performers, rental companies, or service providers.
This policy applies at every level of the organization and to every aspect of the workplace environment and employment relationship, including recruitment, selection, promotion, transfers, training, salaries, benefits and termination. It also covers rates of pay, overtime, hours of work, holidays, shift work, discipline and performance evaluations.
This policy also applies to events that occur outside of the physical workplace such as during travel and company parties. This policy prohibits discrimination or harassment based on the following grounds, and any combination of these grounds:
- Creed (religion)
- Sex (including pregnancy and breastfeeding)
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Gender expression
- Family status (such as being in a parent-child relationship)
- Marital status (including married, single, widowed, divorced, separated or living in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage, whether in a same-sex or opposite sex relationship)
- Disability (including mental, physical, developmental or learning disabilities)
- Place of origin
- Ethnic origin
- Record of offences (criminal conviction for a provincial offence, or for an offence for which a pardon has been received)
- Association or relationship with a person identified by one of the above grounds
- Perception that one of the above grounds applies.
The following behaviour is prohibited:
Discrimination: means any form of unequal treatment based on a Code ground, whether imposing extra burdens or denying benefits. It may be intentional or unintentional. It may involve direct actions that are discriminatory on their face, or it may involve rules,practices or procedures that appear neutral, but disadvantage certain groups of people.Discrimination may take obvious forms, or it may happen in very subtle ways. Even ifthere are many factors affecting a decision or action, if discrimination is one factor, that is a violation of this policy.
Harassment: means a course of comments or actions that are known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome. It can involve words or actions that are known or should be known to be offensive, embarrassing, humiliating, demeaning or unwelcome, based on a ground of discrimination identified by this policy. Harassment can occur based on any of the grounds of discrimination.
Examples of harassment include:
- Epithets, remarks, jokes or innuendos related to a person’s race, gender identity, gender expression, sex, disability, sexual orientation, creed, age, or any other ground
- Posting or circulating offensive pictures, graffiti or materials, whether in print form or via e-mail or other electronic means
- Singling out a person for humiliating or demeaning “teasing” or jokes because they are a member of a Code-protected group
- Comments ridiculing a person because of characteristics that are related to a ground of discrimination. For example, this could include comments about a person’s dress, speech or other practices that may be related to their sex, race, gender identity or creed.
If a person does not explicitly object to harassing behaviour, or appears to be going along with it, this does not mean that the behaviour is okay. The behaviour could still be considered harassment under the Code.
Sexual and gender-based harassment: sexual harassment is a form of harassment that can include:
- Gender-related comments about a person’s physical characteristics or mannerisms
- Paternalism based on gender which a person feels undermines his or her self respect or position of responsibility
- Unwelcome physical contact
- Suggestive or offensive remarks or innuendoes about members of a specific gender
- Propositions of physical intimacy
- Gender-related verbal abuse, threats or taunting
- Leering or inappropriate staring
- Bragging about sexual prowess or questions or discussions about sexual activities
- Offensive jokes or comments of a sexual nature about an employee or client
- Rough and vulgar humour or language related to gender
- Display of sexually offensive pictures, graffiti or other materials including through electronic means
- Demands for dates or sexual favours.
Sexual Solicitation: this policy prohibits sexual solicitations or advances by any person who is in a position to grant or deny a benefit to the recipient of the solicitation or advance. This includes managers and supervisors, as well as co-workers where one person is in a position to grant or deny a benefit to the other. Reprisals for rejecting such advances or solicitations are also not allowed.
Poisoned environment: a poisoned environment is created by comments or conduct (including comments or conduct that are condoned or allowed to continue when brought to the attention of management) that create a discriminatory work environment. The comments or conduct need not be directed at a specific person, and may be from any person, regardless of position or status. A single comment or action, if sufficiently serious, may create a poisoned environment.
Roles and Responsibilities
All persons present in The Only Animal are expected to uphold and abide by this policy, by refraining from any form of harassment or discrimination, and by cooperating fully in any investigation of a harassment or discrimination complaint. Managers, instructors, and show directors have the additional responsibility to act immediately on observations or allegations of harassment or discrimination. Managers and supervisors are responsible for creating and maintaining a harassment- and discrimination-free organization, and should address potential problems before they become serious.
(as of September 10, 2022)
We have created a ‘Protected Pathways’ in our staff and board. ‘Protected Pathways’ means a way for all workers including full-time, part-time, temporary, probationary, casual and contract staff, as well as volunteers, co-op students, interns and apprentices of The Only Animal to be able to report incidences of racism, ableism, discrimination, or oppression that they experience in our physical or digital spaces. These protected pathways have multiple people built in, in order to be comprehensive. They have reporting pathways within our staff and board to ensure that all concerns are heard, and that action can be taken to keep the company accountable, and to build welcoming spaces for all.
- Yearly Performance Reviews will be conducted, with questions prepared and shared in advance.
- Ongoing feedback from all contractors can occur digitally as part of each project post-mortems.
- For the 2023-2024 season, reporting for our Protected Pathways would go toBrenda Leadlay, General Manager, at email@example.com and/or to Nathan Medd, our Board Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Education about the Protected Pathways – with contact information – will be provided for each new workers, including full-time, part-time, temporary, probationary, casual and contract staff, as well as volunteers, co-op students, interns and apprentices.
- When feedback is received, The Only Animal Protected Pathway staff/Board member will listen, document, ask the individual if they would like to remain confidential, ask what they would like the outcome to be and ask if they would like any follow up. Action will be taken accordingly.
- All Protected Pathways reporting will have written records made in the ’Protected Pathways – CORE’ Document and create a document to share with TOA board to review.
- Hierarchy: In the case of most contracted staff, the Protected Pathway contact person will take the anonymized concern to senior staff. Reporting by staff is reported to the Board. Reporting by the Board at large are reported to the Executive Committee. Reporting by the Executive Committee members are brought to the Board-at-Large. All grievances can be formally appealed to the full Board of Directors.
- If follow up is requested, a board meeting will be held prior to the follow-up.
- Annually during the August Board Meeting, TOA will review the Protected Pathway scenarios and make adjustments where they see fit.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Policy
(as of September 10, 2022)
- Since 2007, The Only Animal has affirmed a commitment to EDI. The pathway to equity, diversity and inclusion is not one intended to eliminate differences, but to accommodate them, celebrate them and integrate them into our organizational ecosystem. It is critical to our mission as a company that has solutionary impact on the climate crisis, that we produce vital, innovative, and conversation-provoking theatre that builds anti-racist and anti-oppressive practices into the foundation of our work. We vow to purposefully identify, discuss and challenge issues of oppression and discrimination and the impacts they have on our organization, its systems, and its people.
- In the past 14 years, this has been demonstrated in our commitment and track record of hiring at least 50% of our artists on any given project as those from racialized and equity-seeking groups. Our board representation has also met this goal since 2015.
- We instituted our Anti-Harassment Policy in 2018.
- In 2020-2021, our former Artistic Producer Lisa Goebel, a Filipinx artist and administrator with a long history with our company, undertook a 2-part course on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion from UBC with funds provided by The Only Animal. That work and our own staff discussions and research has resulted in this proposed plan for the company, which continues to evolve as we continue our educational commitment.
- We reaffirm our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion within our organization, partnerships, programming, and practice.
The Only Animal Ongoing Training
- The permanent and contracted Staff, Board of Directors, and the Artist Brigade 100 cohort will continue to attend ongoing EDI-related training. Our intention is two-fold, to build a shared language that can be the basis of good communication, and the development and improvement of company statements and policy. We recognize that our staff and board arrive at this work with different levels of awareness and lived experience. These training sessions are all optional.
- In 2021 we completed 2-hour sessions with these organizations:
Kelly Brownbill – A Historical Perspective on Indigenous Awareness
Bakau Consulting – Fundamentals of Anti-Oppression
- In 2022 we completed 2-hour sessions with these organizations:
Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods – Disability Awareness
Bakau Consulting – Fundamentals of Gender & Sexuality
- We commit to supporting work with more sensitivity and awareness of our privilege
- We are committed to improving our understanding of our own racial biases and the systemic racism in the organization by listening to our IBPOC employees.
- The Only Animal will continue and improve the values and methods for cultivation and stewardship of new partnerships with IBPOC-led community organizations, and IBPOC-led arts organizations as an urgent matter of priority.
Rehearsal & Production
- When hiring, The Only Animal will intentionally recruit, meaningfully include, gainfully employ, and actively support artists from IBPOC and other equity-seeking communities, in roles ranging from project leadership to content creation to consulting to designing to performing.
- In order to create a welcoming environment throughout our organization, we will be intentional about the way we invite people through our spaces (in-person or online), the way we remove barriers to participation, and the nature in which we engage our community in those spaces
- We reaffirm our commitment toward a more flexible rehearsal schedule in discussion with all artists and in the interest of professional and personal stability, and climate impact. We recommit to paying artist for the time in advance of rehearsal to get off-book, which is helpful in reducing work hours during rehearsal days, and beneficial to our sited processes.
- We recommit to our “post-mortem” system, a system which lets artists respond anonymously to their experience with shows after the fact, with online access, for all production teams.
- Ongoing website design updates to include ever improving accessibility.
- A permanent line item in our annual organizational budget dedicated to IDEA training and initiatives
- Addition of cultural consultants that represent equity-seeking communities in relationship to the sites we might work within to each production’s budget worksheet.
Patrons & Audience
- Use new ticket programs that increase accessibility and availability for IBPOC audiences particularly those in relationship to the land where the show might be occurring.
- Removing disadvantages and barriers such as making accommodations for physical access. If removal is not possible, acknowledging the barriers through marketing and social media to create awareness of the space.
- We committed to increasing accessibility by offering captioning for all of our digital offerings. We are working towards integrating some ASL interpretation, audio description, and captioning into our digital performances and recorded work.
- We will investigate sensory-friendly performances and relaxed performances when possible and appropriate as a part of our development process
Board of Directors, Conflict of Interest Guidelines
The Only Animal recruits climate passionate and like minded people to be Directors of the Society, it is expected that they may be involved in the creation and dissemination of TOA projects and as part of our Fair Work principles, that they should be paid for that work.
Conflict of Interest Definition from the BC Societies Act:
56.1 This section applies to a director of a society who has a direct or indirect material interest, that is known by the director or reasonably ought to have been known, in:
- a contract or transaction, or a proposed contract or transaction, of the society, or
- a matter that is or is to be the subject of consideration by the directors, if that interest could result in the creation of a duty or interest that materially conflicts with that director’s duty or interest as a director of the society.
BC Societies Act Regulation (July 2022):
8 The information that must, under section 36 (1) [reporting on remuneration of directors, employees and contractors] of the Act, be provided in a note in the financial statements of a society in respect of the remuneration, if any, paid by the society to the directors is the following:
- a list of all of the directors to whom the society paid, during the period in relation to which the financial statements are prepared,
(i) remuneration for being a director, or
(ii) remuneration for acting in another capacity, which list must include the position or title of each director and may include, but is not required to include, the directors’ names;
(b) the amount of remuneration, if any, described in paragraph (a) (i) paid to each director;
(c) the amount of remuneration, if any, described in paragraph (a) (ii) paid to each director
- The Only Animal does not remunerate members of the board for their duties as Director.
- In conjunction with the Artistic Director, the Board chair shall ensure that no more than 49% of board members are not being paid for or under contract for projects at any one time.
- At the time of contracting a Director, that TOA makes them aware of the (public) financial statement reporting requirements.
- At the start of each Directors meeting, each Director is required to declare their conflict(s) that appear on the agenda of that meeting. They are then required to excuse themselves from the discussion and voting on that matter.
- Should a non agenda item arise where a conflict is discovered, that director will similarly excuse themselves from discussion and voting on that matter at the time it arises.
- If an issue should arise where there could be a perception of Conflict, even if unproven, the Chair will call for discussion and a ruling on the conflict will be made as a vote. The conflict and its resolution will be included in the minutes and if a conflict is found, the director will excuse themselves from discussion and voting on that matter.
The Only Animal values the diversity of its workforce, volunteers, patrons and visitors (‘Participants’) and is committed to providing an environment supportive of human dignity and respect. This ‘Accessibility Plan’ works and is updated with, The Only Animal ‘Healthy Workplace Plan’, ‘Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy’ and ‘Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Policy’
It is the policy of The Only Animal to ensure that every Participant is entitled to an accessible space and program free of intimidation, discrimination, harassment, bullying and violence. Harassing and/or discriminatory behaviours are those that are not welcome, which are personally offensive, which debilitate morale, and which therefore interfere with effectiveness. Any and all conduct that is considered harassing, coercive, intimidating, hostile, bullying or offensive in nature will not be tolerated.
Reducing and removing barriers to accessibility include physical, cognitive, financial and cultural limitations that are within the control of The Only Animal through awareness in advance planning and focused communications.
We acknowledge our presentations and venues may be challenging and can create discomfort.
We prioritize individuals’ dignity, personal safety and self-determination of boundaries.
The Only Animal will treat any complaint with seriousness, sensitively and discretion and acknowledge our responsibility to take appropriate action to stop such conduct. If circumstances require, steps may include mediation, remedial action, discipline, third party facilitation or legal action. We will make every effort to maintain confidentiality.
This is a living commitment and will evolve as conversations continue and new realities emerge in our communities. The Only Animal board, staff and artists continue to attend ongoing external IDEA training as part of the annual company work plan and budget. We welcome feedback.
We pledge to work together to build an open and inclusive environment where all Participants can thrive and grow.
The Only Animal is mindful of the following specific accessibility challenges and continues to increase our awareness, accommodation, and budgets for them.
- Cultural and Social
- Climate Change
Physical Accessibility – Venue
- Removing disadvantages and barriers such as making accommodations for physical access. If removal is not possible, acknowledging the barriers through marketing and social media to create awareness of the space.
- Ensuring that all Participants in a production have access to adequate shelter from elements as needed.
- Working to keep all Pathway surfaces and ways clear and suitable for all modes of mobility.
- Be mindful in the design and setup up of Venue Services – Box Office, Coat Check, Concession, Washrooms, Lobby areas.
- Best efforts in venue design and audience pathing to keep seating / viewing areas non-exclusionary.
- Using seating that is appropriate for all bodies.
- An emergency plan includes specific and available assistance for those who self-identify with wanting additional assistance.
- Integrating ASL interpretation, audio description, and captioning into our digital performances and recorded work.
- Creation of site videos to share in advance information about the terrain for physical accessibility, or for other people for whom advance notice can be helpful.
Cognitive Accessibility – Productions
- Posting sensory warnings and having sensory-friendly/relaxed performances.
- Enhanced and clear site and venue wayfinding and signage.
- Maintaining and communicating retreat pathways.
- Avoiding ableist language and using language relevant to all Participants in and communication forms.
- Providing options to complete forms and post mortems through casual interview format for those requesting it.
Financial Accessibility – Patrons
- Ticket programs that increase accessibility and availability for Participants, particularly IBPOC and those in relation to the land where the show might be occurring.
- Awareness of the unequal effects of scheduling models on all Participants.
Cultural and Social Accessibility – Patrons & Content
- Maintaining a company culture to ensure full participation of IBPOC artists and audiences, by respecting and integrating worldview, culture and working styles into our work.
- Share power with our team, including our IBPOC artists in order to create inclusive decision making at all levels of our organization.
- Focused outreach to IBPOC communities for all of our events.
- Creating leadership roles from those with diverse and racialized lived climate experience.
- Providing safe space for cultural practices such as prayer.
- Providing written copies of oral texts for those who prefer it.
- Enabling easy, non-verbal communication (ie. the use of colour or symbol markers) of acceptable levels of social interaction.
- Being open and active towards making childcare available onsite, and also providing resources for childcare to those who need it.
- Accessible by multiple modes of transportation with a focus on walking and local bus stops. Having accessible/reserved parking areas.
- Creating or recording productions and making them digitally available
- Providing additional resources for travel and accommodation for Artists and Facilitators from rural and northern regions.
Climate Change Awareness – Productions
- The Only Animal acknowledges we live in a climate emergency and that it has effects on our Participants’ health and wellness.
- All contracts and communications with Participants reflect this awareness with the goal to reduce stress and anxiety related to the Climate Emergency and our participation and contribution to Climate Change.
- All projects are conceived, planned and executed with this awareness, including being a no-fly company, using a buy nothing new aesthetic and integrating carbon budgeting in all projects.
It is time to transition, as Ben Twist says, from a Culture of Consumerism to a Culture of Stewardship. A Culture of Care. We are the Culture Makers. This is our work. This climate moment needs the imagination, vision and heart that art brings . Through art, it is our intention to inspire and to mobilize a society paralyzed by climate anxiety and grief. We do this in our own work, and through the Artist Brigade, to spark and mobilize a national movement that grows exponentially to meet the enormous challenges of the ecological emergency.
The Company List
Colin Cooper began solving huge technical design problems for The Only Animal in its 2005 inaugural production of Other Freds, including designing a 25’ long underwater steel bridge that satisfyingly and safely ‘defied the law of basic physics’ while allowing seven actors to hover in the waters of False Creek, Vancouver. He was also roped into designing and constructing our dome-based theatre of snow and ice for NiX in Calgary and in Whistler, for the 2010 Cultural Olympiad. Colin was Production Manager for Granville Island Cultural Society from 1999-2011. He now oversees finances, manages productions, and books retreat rentals for The Only Animal. He has overseen productions and solved technical and logistical problems for the Vancouver Fringe Festival, Theatre Calgary, Theatre Replacement, PI Theatre, Carousel Theatre, and See Seven, among others. Colin received his training from The Banff Centre and U.B.C’s Fine Arts program in Design/Technical Theatre.
Brenda is a 5th generation settler, grateful to live on the stolen lands of the Semiahmoo, Kwantlen and Katzie First Nations and inspired to work with The Only Animal to mobilize Canadian artists for climate action. Brenda’s professional theatre career spans 40 years as an actor, co-creator, director, dramaturge, educator and producer. She was the executive director of the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture and previous to that, the artistic executive director of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival at the National Arts Centre. She was also the artistic director of Presentation House Theatre and Tamahnous Theatre and the founder of the Chutzpah! Festival.
Brenda has an MFA in directing from UBC and has studied performance techniques with internationally acclaimed theatre practitioners Andre Gregory, Yurek Bogayehevich, Linda Putnam, Yoshi Oida , Monica Pagneaux and Stephen Wangh. Her unique approach to theatre creation was evident in her early artistic collaborations – Coming Apart, Woman and House, Raw Materials, and Wet Dreams. She teaches movement to aspiring actors, has performed stand-up comedy for a feature documentary and is a certified hatha yoga teacher.
aRTISTIC DIRECTOR (EMeRITUS) & CO-FOUNDER
Kendra is a co-founder and the Artistic Director Emeritus of The Only Animal, a 17-year-old company that is uniquely dedicated to theatre that springs from a deep engagement with place, and towards solutionary outcomes for this climate moment. She is known for her love of the impossible. Selected Credits for directing/writing: Magic Hour, directed by Kim Collier, Slime, written by Bryony Lavery, tinkers, based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel by Paul Harding, Nothing But Sky, a living comic book (Jessie for Significant Artistic Achievement), NiX, theatre of snow and ice, at the 2010 Cultural Olympiad and Enbridge Festival, Alberta Theatre Projects 2009, (Winner of Betty Mitchell Award and Vancouver’s Critic’s Choice Award for Innovation) and Sea of Hearts with 1000 climate protestors. Current projects include A Thousand Year Theatre and The Deep. Kendra founded and led the Artist Brigade, bringing arts and artists to the front lines of the climate movement, resulting in 19 commissioned works and counting among its impacts, a contribution to the preservation of the old-growth forest, Dakota Bear Sanctuary and the Songbird Forest. Kendra contributes to this work in art/climate on the National level as a founding member of SCALE, Sectoral Climate Arts Leadership for the Emergency, and co-founder of Irresistible Worlds. Kendra is a farmer, a forager, and mother to two kids who are real characters.
CORE ARTIST & COMMUNICATIONS
Lara is a climate justice and human rights activist, performance artist, facilitator of community-oriented projects. She has collaborated with a variety of communities in South Africa, South America, Turkey, Italy, Germany and so-called Canada and worked across borders with international theatre companies and facilitated research projects in development and conflict settings with refugees, prisoners, ethnic minorities and Indigenous communities. She is one of the co-founders of AA+A Contemporary Performance Research Project and Ray Performance Collective. Before moving to Canada, she taught first- and second year acting classes at Beykent University and published individual and collaborative ideas on Conference of the Parties (COP20), civil disobedience, theatre in conflict zones and poems on possibilities of hope. She is interested in the role of theatre to address, organize and take action within climate justice context though decolonizing methodologies. She finds joy in experimenting with tools of theatre to disturb everyday life. She is currently doing her PhD in Interdisciplinary Program at UBC and collaborating with artists on performances in the era of crisis. Lara has been in the board of directors of The Only Animal for 3 years. She has been taking creative roles in several projects led by The Only Animal.
Board of Directors
Nathan Medd (any/all) is an arts manager from Qualicum on the west coast, currently serving as managing director of performing arts at Banff Centre, in Treaty 7 territory. There Nathan oversees residencies and arts training programs, with a multidisciplinary creative team that includes numerous recipients of Grammys, Academy Awards and other honours. Nathan’s work as a theatre producer has been recognized with industry awards across Canada and in the US, and he is the cofounder of several vibrant studios including the Metro Studio (Victoria) and Progress Lab 1422 (Vancouver). Recently Nathan served as managing director of English Theatre at the National Arts Centre of Canada for five seasons, during which the NAC established the world’s first Indigenous national theatre, and completed a major building expansion to mark its 50th anniversary. Nathan earned a BFA degree in fine arts at University of Victoria, and a masters degree in management at Harvard.
Eleanor Stacey is the Executive Director of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society, which manages The Civic Theatre and Reo’s Video, and the Kootenay Screen-Based Industry Initiative, and is a founding partner of the Kootenay Regional Film Commission. Previously she was the Executive Director of the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance, Director of Development at The Cultch in East Vancouver, Director of Development at Classic Stage Company (New York), and fundraising and administrative positions at Theatre Communications Group (TCG), New York City Opera and The Roundabout Theatre. She was the founder and administrator of a summer theatre program in Anguilla, BWI, where she wrote and directed plays and musicals involving a total of more than 500 local youth. Eleanor is a graduate of Mount Allison University, and holds an MFA in Arts Administration from Brooklyn College (CUNY). She is a Rotarian, a member of the City of Nelson’s Cultural Development Committee, a board member of Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism and a founding board member of Intercultural Kootenays Society, the Resilience BC Antiracism Network service spoke for Central Kootenay. Eleanor grew up in Nelson, spending plenty of time at the Capitol Theatre where her mother was the manager for many years. She returned in 2013, and is pleased to call Nelson home again.
I am Tsimshian from Lax Kw’alaams, raised on Coast Salish Homelands. I am from the Gitando Tribe and the House of Skagwe’et. We are a matrilineal people originating from the Northwest Coast of Turtle Island. Owner of Spirit Song Studio on Vancouver Island.
Dennis D. Gupa
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. In 2010, he received a scholarship from the Republic of Indonesia to study seni teatre/tari at Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia with Mas Rachman Sabur he also worked with Japanese Noh master Naohiko Umewaka for the International Theatre Institute-UNESCO’s Theatre Olympics of the World. He won the Performance Studies international’s Dwight Conquergood Award, The Ada Slaight Drama in Education Award, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ Doctoral Award. 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). Dennis is a Vanier Scholar.
Ian Garrett is a designer, producer, educator, and researcher in the field of sustainability in arts and culture. He is the director of the Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts; Associate Professor of Ecological Design for Performance at York University; and Producer for Toasterlab. He maintains a design practice focused on ecology, technology and scenography. Through Toasterlab’s Mixed Reality Performance Atelier, recent work includes The Stranger 2.0 with DLT Experience; Groundworks with Rulan Tangen and collaborating artists from Pomo, Wappo, and Ohlone communities; The locative audio project TrailOff with Philadelphia’s Swim Pony; and Transmission (FuturePlay/Edinburgh and Future of Storytelling Festival/New York). Notable projects include the set and energy systems for Zata Omm’s Vox:Lumen at the Harbourfront Centre and Crimson Collective’s Ascension, a solar 150’ wide crane at Coachella. With Chantal Bilodeau, he co-directs the Climate Change Theatre Action. His writing includes Arts, the Environment, and Sustainability for Americans for the Arts; The Carbon Footprint of Theatrical Production in Readings in Performance and Ecology, and Theatre is No Place for a Plant in Landing Stages from the Ashden Directory. He serves on the Board of Directors for Associated Designers of Canada. He was the Curator for the US for the 2019 Prague Quadrennial, and is co-chair for World Stage Design 2022 in Calgary.
David Geary is of Māori, English, Irish and Scottish blood. He grew up immersed in the Polynesian trickster tales of Maui and is now honoured to live, work and play in the lands of the Coyote and Raven tricksters of Turtle Island/Canada. He is an award-winning playwright, dramaturg, director, screenwriter, fiction writer and poet. David teaches at Capilano University, North Vancouver, in the Indigenous Digital Filmmaking, documentary, and playwriting programs. David also teaches playwrighting for PTC Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver. David’s recent work includes short plays for Climate Change Theatre Action. He’s a member of LMDA Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and does script consultation for theatre, TV and Film, most recently with Writers & Tricksters, Women in Film and Television Vancouver. He writes haiku on twitter: gearsgeary, and lives by the yogic mantra: Life is short, stretch it.
Susan was born and dwells on unceded Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh lands. She works with MascallDance and serves on the Board of Directors, and the Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Society.
The Only Animal is grateful to work and play on the unceded ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, səl̓ílwətaʔɬ and shíshálh First Nations.