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       Dennis Gupa
Dr. Dennis Gupa’s Gossip with Whales wins PACT award.
Photo by John Threlfall
Dennis Gupa’s Gossip with Whales can be streamed on Oceans Network Canada. Listen to the songs of the ocean on YouTube.

Dennis Gupa’s Gossip with Whales

gets first Green Award honour


Dr. Dennis Gupa and his unique artistic collaboration, Gossip with Whales: Exploring Ocean Science through Applied Theatre is the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT) Green Award’s Individual Artist Runner-Up.

Gupa, Assistant Professor at the University of Winnipeg, Theatre and Film Department, 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 premiere. “Our poetries and songs renew our kinship with the ocean.”

The 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.

The award ceremony will be held on February 23, 2023. The major winner is the Only Animal Theatre Company for its project The Artist Brigade; Artist Runner Up is Dennis Gupa for Gossip with Whales, and Company Runner Up is the Soulpepper Theatre for The Green Sessions. They will present 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 of Karla Comanda, Roijin Suarez, Darren Vega, Thai Hoa Le, and Jeremiah Carag.