Dennis Gupa & Gossip with Whales Get First Green Award Honour

Dr. Gupa is Assistant Professor in the University of Winnipeg Theatre and Film Department. He was a PhD student in Victoria's Theatre Department and Ocean Networks Canada's artist-in-residence while working on Gossip with Whales (ONC). (Photo credit: John Threlfall)

Dr. Dennis Gupa and his unique artistic collaboration “Gossip with Whales: Exploring Ocean Science through Applied Theatre” is honoured by The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) Inaugural Green Award this year as the Individual Artist Runner-Up.

The Inaugural PACT Green Award is initiated by PACT, a “leader in the national performing arts community and a devoted advocate for the value of live performance”. The Green Award goes to one winning project along with two runner-up projects, one for a company and one for an individual artist.

At the Ceremony on Thursday, Feb 23 EST/12pm EST, the Winner, The Only Animal Theatre Company for its project The Artist Brigade, Artist Runner Up Dennis Gupa for Gossip with Whales, and Company Runner Up Soulpepper Theatre for The Green Sessions will present on their projects and share their experiences with the community.

Dr. Gupa is now Assistant Professor at the University of Winnipeg, Theatre and Film Department. While working with Gossip with Whales, he was then a PhD student at the University of Victoria’s Theatre Department and the artist-in-residence with Ocean Networks Canada (ONC). For Gupa, this residency fitted in with his doctoral focus on Indigenous sea rituals, climate change, and sustainable ecology. He presented Gossip with Whales in its world premiere,  with the performances of four new choral compositions, musical performances with artists from the Philippines, and a panel of artists, performers, and scientists.  This feast of music and celebration of the ocean which all of humanity shares was presented at the launch of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030.

Gossip with Whales was made possible by the University of Victoria-Faculty of Fine Arts and Ocean Networks Canada, the Victoria Filipino Canadian Association, UP Alumni Association in BC, Bayanihan Community Centre in Victoria, and the National Pilipino Canadian Cultural Centre. Gupa worked with his collaborating team made up of Karla Comanda, Roijin Suarez, Darren Vega, Thai Hoa Le, and Jeremiah Carag.

Gupa beautifully used the collaboration of ocean science and the arts and drew upon the Filipino tanaga and mangyan lyrical art forms to produce four original and beautiful choral compositions: Corals Crawl, To the Pacific, Gossip with Whales, and Bamboo Stilts.

“By looking at the experience and knowledge of local people—who have been experiencing these climatic events for so many years, but are not really given a lot of opportunities to tell their stories—we can learn from their knowledge and wisdom,” said Gupa at the panel interview during the world premier. “Our poetries and songs renew our kinship with the ocean.”

Listen to the songs of the ocean and watch Gupa’s Gossip with Whales via this free and accessible online webinar. ###