Our Canadian exchange

In the autumn of 2018 we were contacted by a Canadian theatre company asking us whether we would be interested in talking to them about applying to the New Conversations, a fund created by British Council, the High Commission of Canada in the UK and Farnham Maltings with support from Arts Council England.

We arranged a video call (very early for them and end of the day for us) and it became quickly apparent we had found a company that was similar to ourselves. Our main point of difference (apart from the UK Canada thing) that their starting point for each project is wilderness and physical landscapes whereas we find ourselves seeking out cultivated human landscapes. We worked jointly on the application process and were delighted to find out that we had been one of nine applicants selected to take part.

On the 1st July Mydd and I met at Heathrow and embarked on the journey to meet our exchange partners. It was reminiscent of school exchanges…questions like “I wonder what it’s going to be like, what are we going to be doing all week and I hope we like them…”. The Only Animal work out of an office in Vancouver but live outside the city in island communities and this is where the R&D (research and development) for Museum of Rain was taking place in the studio of their project designer, Robert Studer. Just as journey fatigue was really kicking in we got to experience a sea plane flight to Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast. The landscape and scenery was just incredible and our welcome was a cold beer on the water’s edge with Kendra Fanconi, Artistic Director and Writer and our host for the week (it might have been this point where we relaxed in the comfort we were going to get along!). We had been given the choice of the seaplane or the ferry- the caveat being that we could only have 11kg of luggage in total. The conversation went a bit like this…

The Animals: Do you want to take the sea plane?

Me: YES!

The Animals: Luggage allowance is really low

Me: Pfttt, I can travel light…

Me: (Night before departure) Arghhh packs toothbrush, clean pants and book and hits limit…

It was worth wearing the same clothes all week and borrowing what we didn’t have!

The project being explored is Museum of Rain  described by The Animals as “our next large-scale, elemental and impossible, site-specific work. A water-based installation that is physical, immersive and performative. One’s relationship with rain is undeniable for the rainforest dwellers. This narrative piece explores the ephemeral beauty, the exhilaration, and the meaning we can find in the downpour. Get your raingear on. It’s a theatrical deluge.”

Across the week we helped set up a rain simulator rig and worked alongside The Animals to play with ideas and test performance compositions. We were also joined by staff from University of British Columbia Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and experts in global water resources. At the end of the R&D a small invited, friendly, audience were shown a series of ideas.

Our final day with The Animals was spent exploring. We were taken to some locations that they felt would inspire for our new project and they didn’t disappoint but more about that another day…


We now await the return of Kendra and Robert in September. Unfortunately we aren’t able to share our beautiful homeland of Cornwall as we’re running our project R&D at Creation101 in Newbury but that also means they might have to come back again. The New Conversations fund was an opportunity to get to know each other and the direction of travel has always been to see if there was a relationship on which a joint project could be built. We’re excited for the next conversations to begin.


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