Being Animal
Theatre Terrific's Being Animal is a meditative exploration of our place in nature

There is no doubt that Vancouver’s Theatre Terrific has one of the most gorgeous venues at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival. Nestled between Granville Island and False Creek on a small spit of land, the Sculpture Garden provides a natural stage for Being Animal, an exploration of our place in nature.

Inspired by the writing of philosopher, cultural ecologist, and performance artist David Abram, in very broad terms Abram’s philosophy talks of “the more-than-human world”, a philosophy that puts humans on the same plane as everything else in nature. While humans may have a unique place on earth, it is no more or no less unique than any other part of nature.

Writing in 2013 for The Center for Humans and Nature, Abram said: “Our opposable thumbs, our ability to balance and ambulate on our hind legs, our capacity for reflection, and our slyness with tools and ever-more-complex technologies entail that we are a pretty unique bunch. But then again, that hawk soaring overhead is able to fly without any of the contrivances that we depend upon, and the apple tree over there is able to squeeze apples directly out of its limbs, which in itself is pretty damn unique, and a far cry from anything that I can muster with my own body.”

Being Animal brings Abram’s philosophy to life as the dozen actors play themselves and “become” a variety of animals thanks to Gina Bastone’s wonderful masks. Abram’s philosophy takes on an even greater meaning given Theatre Terrific’s mandate to provide opportunities for artists of all abilities. The ensemble is fearless as they move about the space to tell its story with few words.

The music from Angelo Moroni and James Coomber is played with skill and not a little humour, and is supported by Coomber’s beautiful sound design that reverberates through the grove and over the water. Mother Nature’s appearance to embrace us all at the end is a delight.

In the moment Being Animal is meditative, funny, touching and uplifting, but the real joy came in discovering more.

Being Animal created by the Theatre Terrific ensemble. Directed by Susanna Uchatius and James Coomber. A Theatre Terrific production as part of the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival on stage at the Granville Island Sculpture Garden behind Performance Works until September 20. Visit http://vancouverfringe.com for tickets and information.