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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.


Raining. Raining. Waiting for a window to get out with the typewriter. Raining.

Put a piece of typing paper in the forest to let the rain do the typing for %$&!* once.

Promptly forgot about it.

The oyster mushroom sprang into being at the bottom of Mt Elphinstone. I find them on fallen alder. I see them as typewriter keys, an echo of Agnes.
Soft keys, in the damp winter weather.

I pick them without my basket or my knife, just prying with my fingers every other one.


November. When the path becomes a puddle.


Lichen puddles on alder.


Petrichor: the smell of the earth after the rain. Especially after a long dry period.


 The system of seasons;  spring, summer, fall, winter, isn’t nearly detailed enough for this Year of the Typewriter. It’s like language has rungs missing on the ladder.


I mostly know Roberts Creek where it spills into the ocean. I’ve seen it in September when the salmon are running and the eagles circling. I’ve walked it with my kids in the summer along the wide path of stepping stones. Its not a small meandering thing, it’s a rushing roaring one.

On the subject of falling apart….





Walking with a heavy heart after news of the Las Vegas shootings, so many wounded, so many dead.
Looking at chaos, destruction, riddling with holes from the perspective of the forest.

Thinking of the loss of this kind of natural knowing.
Gathering bouquets.

Return to Clack Creek Forest.
Slightly raining.

The day in photos.




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