ABOUT THE ONLY ANIMAL

 

Why we do what we do…

 

The Only Animal creates immersive work that arises from a deep engagement with place. The natural world is our media: water, sand, snow and ice and trees. We mix this media with theatrical adventurism, and a love of the extreme. Our work seeks to re/connect our human nature with Nature. Here we forge new ways of understanding of how to be on earth.

The Only Animal is only Human, we strive to make theatre in a way that is sustainable, joyful and treads lightly on the earth. We work 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 create theatre to thrill the blood, stir the soul and revitalize the planet.

How we got here…

The Only Animal started as a way to change the world through creative disruption of everyday Vancouver. Founded in 2005 by Kendra Fanconi and Eric Rhys Miller, our first piece was Other Freds, a clown show about parallel worlds, on False Creek with a cast of 135, birds, boats and a bicycle ballet. An appetite for the impossible continues to be a driving force. Our 2007 remount of the 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 national theatre festival, Magnetic North.  NiX, Canada’s first theatre of snow and ice at 2010 Olympics, began our focus of the natural world as our primary media. NiX also opened in the warmest winter in 126 years, and we met climate change head on.

Our youth educational program became focussed on climate with Generation Hot, which combines climate literacy, creative tools and mentorship for original climate theatre creation, for generation whose lives are shaped by the crisis. Community-engaged practice in DTES started the next year with projects like Out on a Limb and 2nd Story. Our mainstage work followed into art for social change began with Tinkers, was the first adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, by Paul Harding, part of a ten-show series to save an endangered, old-growth forest which was being logged. In 2018 with Banff Centre we co-created the world-premiere of Slime, with Bryony Lavery, a Tony-nominated playwright from the UK. It featured the voice of 100 animals, whose existence is threatened by the climate emergency.

Over 15 years we have created over 30 shows, and been nominated for 40 Jessie Awards, winning 8, including Outstanding Production and 3 times for Significant Artistic Achievement.  We foster and promote diverse leadership in our growing team.

OUR VALUES:

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; 

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:

  1. Our Community Agreement 
  2. Anti-Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy
  3. Protect Pathways
  4. Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) Policy
  5. Accessibility Statement
Community Agreement

(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.

Policy Objectives

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:

  • Age
  • 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)
  • Race
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin
  • Ethnic origin
  • Citizenship
  • Colour
  • 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.

Definitions

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.

Protected Pathways

(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 2022-2023  season, reporting for our Protected Pathways would go to Liam Kearns, our Associate Producer, at liam@theonlyanimal.com and/or to Eleanor Stacey, our Board Chair, at report@theonlyanimal.com.
  • 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)

Background

  • 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. In the past 3 years, this has focussed on leadership opportunities in the company, with mixed success with grant support that made those projects possible. IBPOC and equity-seeking arts leadership continues to be a focus of our work moving forward. 
  • 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. 

Partnerships

  • 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. 

Budget

  • 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
Accessibility Policy

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. 

  • Physical 
  • Cognitive
  • Financial
  • Cultural and Social
  • Geographic
  • 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.

    Geographic Accessibility

    • 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.

      VISION:

      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

      person with a typewriter on their back, facing the snowy mountain in the background

      Kendra Fanconi

      Artistic Director and Co-Founder

      Kendra Fanconi is the Artistic Director of The Only Animal, a 16-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: World premiere of 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). Current projects include 1000 Year Theatre and Museum of Rain. Kendra leads the Artist Brigade, bringing arts and artists to the front lines of the climate movement. Kendra is a founding member and a coordinating circle member of SCALE, Sectoral Climate Arts Leadership for the Emergency, where she is a conduit for the Artist Mobilization Working Group, fondly known as the Art Mob. Kendra lives on Shíshálh land on the far left coast of Canada, and is a farmer, a forager, and mother to two kids who are real characters.

      a man wearing a radio in front of a piano in the forest

      LIAM KEARNS

      Associate Producer

      Liam Kearns is a queer, Vancouver-based Stage Manager and Production Manager that first got the opportunity to work with The Only Animal as their stage manager for their production of tinkers. He is best known within the city for working on shows that push the boundaries of what theatre is and can be. Some of the impossible, larger-than-life shows he’s worked on include The Number 14 (Axis Theatre Company), Mary’s Wedding (Shoreline Theatre), The List (BoucheWacked! Theatre Company), Robin Hood (ITSAZOO Productions), Bollywood Wedding (South Asian Arts), Debts (ITSAZOO Productions), Killer Joe (ITSAZOO Productions), Where The Wild Things Are (Presentation House Theatre), Haunted (ITSAZOO Productions), The Ridiculous Darkness (Alley Theatre/Neworld Theatre), and SLIME (The Only Animal). He has also worked for the Production Department of Arts Umbrella, the Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival (VOAF), the Vancouver Fringe Festival, and the Granville Island Cultural Society (GICS). An influential hobby outside the arts realm is his love of geocaching, a GPS-enabled treasure hunt where one seeks out real containers hidden in the real world. It has expanded his mind in ways he never would have imagined, much like the theatre that he pursues expands the very definition of what theatre is and can be.

      guy tipping a bucket full of water

      Colin Cooper

      Operations Manager

      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.

      a person crouching down while taking a picture of a river

      SOPHIA DAGHER

      VIDEOGRAPHER

      Sophia is a Lebanese-American/Canadian film maker who specializes in video for dance, theatre, music, events, and tourism. Sophia has worked on videography for our all of shows since 2015, and co-mentored our educational programs for DareU and Greenlight. Last season Sophia mentored emerging filmmaker Divya Arora, from the Muslim-Tamil community on a film about intersectional environmentalism. Deeply engaged with the natural world, her work has taken her to India, New York, Dubai, and to remote corners of the Canadian wilderness, by plane, train, automobile, horseback, and often a long trek on foot.  Sophia is works in an ongoing way with The Only Animal in our education program,  in youth film mentorship projects and videographic documentation of process and production for The Only Animal.

      guy tipping a bucket full of water

      LARA AYSAL

      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

      Eleanor Stacey

      CHAIR

      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.

      Nathan Medd

      Vice-chair

      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.

      Sarah Lowis

      Secretary

      Sarah Lowis is the Founder and Impact Officer of Sea to Sky Meeting and Association Management. She strives to make the world a better place by helping organizations thrive by managing their conferences, events, and associations, in Canada and around the World. She is passionate about theatre, the Arts, and environmental conservation. She is currently the volunteer Executive Director of the Living Forest Institute, President of the Sunshine Coast Festival for the Performing Arts and holds the position of Secretary on The Only Animal’s Board of Directors. Sarah can be reached through www.seatoskymeetings.com, www.livingforestinstitute.ca, www.coastfestival.com or www.theonlyanimal.com

      Panthea Vatandoost

      treasurer

      Panthea Vatandoost is an Iranian actor, producer, and writer. Her first contact with theatre was during middle school in Tehran, when she created and performed in a political satire about the fall of the Shah. After graduating from film school, Panthea spent the next decade taking classes in private acting studios, and learning everything she knows about creating theatre through producing her own shows. Since emigrating to Canada, Panthea has continued to write, produce and perform in a variety of productions. Panthea is the founder and Managing Artistic Director of Medusa Theatre Society. She has the honor of serving as the Treasurer on the board of The Only Animal Theatre Company. Outside of theatre, Panthea performs in film and TV productions, serves as co-chair on the UBCP/ACTRA BIPOC Committee, and sits on the UBCP/ACTRA Mentorship Committee, Queer Committee, and Scholarship Committee.

      Lara Aysal

      director

      Laya Aysal 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 pandemics.

      Sophia Dagher

      Director

      Sophia Dagher is a Lebanese-American filmmaker and educator working on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territories in Vancouver, BC, and wherever the job takes her. She’s a jack of all trades director / producer, and has been making films, and videos as her passion, and profession since 2008. She has a BA in film production and a BEd in rural secondary education from the University of British Columbia. Her work has screened at Toronto International Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, Whistler Film Festival, on Outside Television, and all over the internet! When she’s not in production you can find her mentoring youth in the arts, cooking Mediterranean and pan-Asian cuisine, and spending time in nature.

      Ian Garrett

      Director

      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

      director

      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.

      Dennis D. Gupa

      Director

      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.

      Judi Pearl

      Director

      Judi Pearl is currently Associate Producer, Artistic Projects for English Theatre at the National Arts Centre and previously served for ten years on the board of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. A passionate environmental activist since her teen years, she is honoured to have the opportunity to work with The Only Animal in creating pathways for artists of all kinds to bring their unique skills and powerful imaginations to the front lines of the climate crisis. She is grateful to live and work on unceded Algonquin territory, nestled between the Rideau Canal and the Rideau River.

      Cara Barter

      Director

      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.