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Year of the Typewriter

Year of the Typewriter image by Ruth Little
Kendra Fanconi working on Year of the Typewriter photo by Ruth Little

Year of the Typewriter
our second year of theatrical research

Year of the Typewriter responds to a challenge by ecology writer Paul Kingsnorth to cast landscape as the lead character in stories. The response of Playwright Kendra Fanconi to this challenge was to rig up an old typewriter as a backpack and go out into wild places with the idea of translating what landscape has to say. A first workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts in October 2016 explored this concept and opened up other avenues of exploration: interspecies arts collaborations with native species and ideas for translating the voice of place.  It ties in with a longstanding interest in West-Coast voice and vision, but with a more specific and rigorous focus. It turns from the technological and to a simpler, more direct, ‘by-hand’ aesthetic.

Following the Banff research intensive, in a very different kind of landscape, The Only Animal brought the project  back to B.C. to the threatened forest on Mount Elphinstone starting autumn equinox 2017.  In true mountain fashion, it was a year of ups and downs, and we met a range of narratives up there. From drought to deluge, pine beetle scrawling to elk trails, and from the bounty of the Chanterelle Forest to its utter destruction from clear cutting. from familiar rains to new snow. And a sheaf of typewritten sheets, some stained with cedar, many smudged with rain. 

This year we take the project to six threatened wilderness across Canada in the final research phase of the piece we are calling 'Force of Nature'. 

Check this space.


It took sun, wind, rain and 10 days for the snow to melt. I say melt, but walking, I still found pockets. That's what this week is all about...pockets of winter and not much else. The tread that was that fresh crunch of snow, went through the sliding slush, to become now cold cedar-stained mud. 

My carpets look like crud.

God I've had it.

I saw the first snowdrops on February 5th of this year.


This week I saw them under snow.


10 cm deep


A walk is noisy now. Crunching.


I couldn’t help heading back up towards the Chanterelle Forest today. The court-ordered halt to the logging there has now expired and the road was again blocked with Active Logging underway.



January seems to have super sized gravity.

My eyes even are pulled down.

There are still things to see looking at the ground.

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The wood is so dark these mornings that looking down the path feels like peering through chicken broth.

But then, not often, not forecasted, not predictable…

There is that odd orange orb...

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I went today to the Chanterelle Forest. For Coasters, it is just a short drive up Field Road from Straight Coffee...

Winter Solstice, the darkest day…


I thought last week was cold. This week goes white.

White like the paper. Big and blank.

Snow catches in all the rainforest green.

And things begin to freeze. Whereas the rain was an inconvenience with the typewriter, now the cold sets in. I put on more layers. I write in shorter bursts and walk to keep warm. Even my sailing socks, with a layer of reflective blanket sewn in cannot keep the cold out. Agnes complains and drills holes in the paper in one spot, refusing to advance. I know how she feels. Every thought is encased in ice and must be cracked loose and named with a fumbling cold brain.


The Only Animal creates cultivates and inspires theatre work that arises from a deep engagement with place.