Towards a Humane Theatre

Animal welfare and rights have always been an important topic to me.  I grew up volunteering at the BC SPCA with my mom and have had many pets over the years.  I have always questioned our society’s relationship with animals – are they friends, or food? Are they a resource and commodity, or living creatures deserving of rights?  I feel strongly that our current way of doing things – our pracitices with pets, livestock, and animals raised for the meat industry is largely exploitative and deeply troubling.  That being said, these feelings come with built in hypocracy – I would never wear fur, but I do own leather shoes (mostly second hand).  I don’t eat meat of any kind but I’m not vegan.  I am concerned about the treatment of animals in our society but I struggle with breaking free from the consumer cycle that is the main reason animals suffer for our convenience.

I find with these kind of issues, like the ‘greenwash’ movement, people tend to sieze upon the uncomfortable dualities of these things.  There are those who don’t pay any attention to their consumer habits and scoff at those who do; there are animal rights groups that believe strongly that vegetarianism is not enough, and that folks like me who aren’t absolute in our practices aren’t doing enough.  It’s a tough discussion to face –  I for one believe that the all or nothing approach will leave people (like the aforementioned naysayers) unwilling to try at all.  I believe that if we begin to shift our habits bit by bit as a society we can make great change.  And we must.

I’ve been thinking about how to make my passion for animal welfare and theatre work together and was inspired to give my makeup kit a cruelty-free makeover.  I thought it would be hard, given that I am working on a limited budget, but I was surprised to see how many companies have made the switch to cruelty free production. There are also a wealth of resources available to help locate affordable cruelty free products – I signed up to receive a free Cruelty Free Shopping Guide from Peta.  Their website is fantastic and comprehensive, and it’s easy to look up your favorite brands and see if they make the cut.  Through Peta I found My Beauty Bunny, a website/blog dedicated to finding fabulous products of all kinds that haven’t been tested on animals. Skeptics should visit My Beauty Bunny for proof that cruelty free cosmetics don’t have to be all hemp chapstick and vegetable dyes!

So who did make the cut?  I was so relieved to find Cover FX on the list – I’ve sworn by their kick-ass water based high pigment foundation for years and will proudly keep buying their products.  Revlon and Wet ‘N Wild both make drugstore-price cosmetics in great colors for the stage, and both are certified by My Beauty Bunny as cruelty free.  M.A.C, Sephora and Stila have also made the switch (UPDATE MARCH 2012: It seems that M.A.C. has backslid on its commitments – please check for up to date info from M.A.C. before deciding).    It didn’t take a ton of money or even a special trip to a different store to make my products cruelty free – just a little research and a commitment to changing my consumer habits. While I’m not always on board with Peta’s tactics in other areas regarding animal rights, I applaud their resources on cruelty-free consumerism.  By shifting our habits and ways of thinking,  we can send a message to companies still using barbaric animal testing that we prefer to stand behind those that have left those practices behind.  I plan to put my money where my mouth is and keep my art cruelty free.

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