Baking With Grief

How do you grieve and move on after losing someone? It is a challenge for anyone, but even more so for Katherine, especially now that death has moved in as her roommate.

The Grief Box by Alissa Watson won last year’s Bake-Off writing competition; during FemFest 2018. This year, a reading of The Grief Box is part of our FemFest 2019 roster! We asked Watson to share a little bit about the inspiration behind her play…

“Writing The Grief Box has been a weird and wonderful process. The inspiration for the piece came from the sudden death of my mom in the fall of 2017. I have found life convoluted and bizarre in the wake of her passing and it has been my experience that many people struggle to support those who are dealing with loss, even if they are sharing the same experience. In creating this piece, it is important to me to create a community experience; a safe space where the audience can laugh, cry or get angry with or at death. I would love to have everyone leave feeling that they have a slightly better relationship with death; however bizarre it might be.

The piece has evolved extensively since The Switch, that won the Bake-Off last fall. Much to my disappointment, that scene is no longer in this draft of the play. Audiences who are familiar with the scene can consider it a prologue to the reading of The Grief Box they will see this fall. However, the same loveable cast of characters are along for the ride, including death itself.”- Alissa Watson

Alissa Watson Grief BoxIn addition to acquiring her Bachelor of Music and Education from Brandon University, Alissa has trained in theatre throughout Canada, England and is an alumna of the Professional Training Ensemble at Prairie Theatre Exchange.  She is the co-founder of The Red Nose Diaries (Maple & Sticky’s Amazing Olympic Race, The Polka Dots of Death: The Making of a Supervillain) and is a proud founding member of Winnipeg’s only all-female Bouffon Ensemble, The Talentless Lumps. Selected acting credits include Sense & Sensibility, Harvey (RMTC); Torn Through Time (MTYP); Mission: Munschpossible, Small Things, Magical Mystery Munsch (PTE); and Stripped Down Midsummer Night’s Dream (SIR). Alissa is a member of PTE’s Emerging Playwright’s Unit and is currently adapting the beloved Munsch classic, The Paper Bag Princess for young audiences this winter. In addition, Alissa is a vocalist and percussionist for the sweet and cheeky, Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir.

The reading of The Grief Box will be held Saturday, September 14th at 2:00PM at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Admission is Pay What You Can and you can book tickets HERE on our website.  You can also check out this year’s edition of the Bake-Off on September 16th at 6:30pm to vote for a script you would like to see developed for 2020.

Stay tuned for more on what to look forward to during FemFest 2019!

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You Get What You Pay For

Coming to FemFest 2019 as part of our touring shows, a POP ART performance of 4inXchange by xLq. This unique performance involves three performers, four audience members and $1,000 cash!

Jordan Campbell, Maddie Bautista and Katherine Walker-Jones sitting stoic at a table in wigs, sunglasses and white lab coats. About to begin their performance

xLq is a POP ART performance duo comprised of Jordan Campbell and Maddie Bautista. Dedicated to radical forms of performance and complicit audience experience – xLq combines ritual, fashion, dance, music, and queer pop aesthetics to question, physicalize, and reimagine our possible futures. Recipient of the Nightswimming 5×25 2017 Commission and winner of the NOW Magazine Audience Choice Award for ​4inXchange – which debuted at SummerWorks 2019, with tour stops at Vancouver’s rEvolver Festival and now our own FemFest.

“Will leave you looking differently at that fiver in your wallet”- NOW Magazine Toronto

4 audience members write on paper thoughtfully while xLq watchesLearn all about the xLq team we will be welcoming to Winnipeg for FemFest:

Jordan Campbell (performer-creator, producer) is a queer performance artist, creator and youth workshop facilitator. He is an xLq co-artistic director and performer. Jordan’s Jordan and Maddie hold up two pieces of money to eachother while sitting on their knees on the table, the audience sits close watchingsolo work is physically based and uses high aesthetics, drag and performance art. His work with youth has focused around those with different learning abilities, including teaching at Purple Carrots Drama Studio. Selected performance credits include: The Youth/Elders Project (Buddies in Bad Times), 72-Person Ball Passing (FFDN), The Stranger (DLT).

Maddie Bautista (performer-creator, producer) is a Bi, Filipina sound designer, theatre creator and performer. Her sound design has been featured in theatres across the country: Luminato, Why Not’s RISER, Aluna Theatre, b current, rEvolver Festival in Vancouver, High Performance Rodeo in Calgary, and more. Recipient of the SummerWorks Spotlight Performance Award 2016, a Dora-nomination for her sound design ​(Eraser, Why Not’s RISER), and fu-GEN Theatre’s inaugural Walk the Walk Commission 2019.

xLq and the audience members toss money into the air, smiling.Katherine Walker-Jones (performer-creator) is an artist from Winnipeg who is now based in Toronto. They make theatre and music. Since graduating from Humber Theatre Performance in 2016, they have released two EPs and recorded a forthcoming album with their band Feels Fine. They also collaborate with xLq Pop Art Performance. Recent works with xLq include curating the Trash Sanctuary event series as well as performing at SummerWorks Performance Festival and rEvolver Festival.

4inXchange can only accept four audience members per performance, so reserving your tickets in advance is crucial! The show will use a unique pay-what-you-choose method at the end of the show and only has 16 performances. That means only 64 lucky audience members will get to experience this unique event. For show times and to reserve your tickets, visit our website.

Going to the Dogs!

Actor W.C. Fields famously said never to work with children or animals. Mostly because they steal the show! FemFest disagrees and argues you can’t go wrong with a dog on stage. We are excited to have our first animal on stage for FemFest 2019, but even more exciting is that this particular dog is integrated in to the compelling storytelling of Kim Kilpatrick in Raising Stanley / Life with Tulia.

02karenbailey_atthetheatre_highres“Kilpatrick peppers her intimately personal stories with humour and pathos that draws the audience into her world and the diverse personalities of her dogs.” – Brian Carroll (APT613.ca)

When the show played in 2018 at Great Canadian Theatre Centre, it was so popular you couldn’t get tickets for love or money. It has since gone on to be featured at festivals including Toronto Next Stage Festival and the undercurrents festival in Ottawa. Now Winnipeg has a chance to experience it.

In Raising Stanley / Life With Tulia storyteller Kim Kilpatrick, painter Karen Bailey and director Bronwyn Steinberg vividly document the journey from puppy to working guide dog for the blind. Delving into issues of identity, accessibility and canine service, this storytelling show incorporates original paintings through video with audio description and music. The show offers a totally accessible experience for adults and children that both informs and entertains.

kimtuliakarenstanley1
Kim Kilpatrick, a blind storyteller, performs stories of life with the four guide dogs she has handled: Gia, Margaret, Gwenny and Tulia. Kilpatrick is a former Paralympian and disability rights activist. As a woman who was born blind, she brings a fresh and unique approach to the art of storytelling.

Karen Bailey, a visual artist, painted Stanley, a puppy she raised for Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, engaging in a multitude of activities that mirror his future working life. Wall-sized enlargements of Karen’s paintings are projected using video visual effects behind her, with voice-over audio description that integrates seamlessly with Kim’s live storytelling. Part of the show takes place entirely in the dark.

uc19_raisingstanley_photocred_justinvanleeuwen-e1542135997754“This play is a joy to watch. It is important to watch. It is a story of trust and partnership between humans and animals. It is a nuanced story by a blind woman about her experiences clear from clichés and filled with funny anecdotes and depictions of loss and challenges…” – Alejandra Vargas García (APT613.ca)

There will be three opportunities to catch the show in Winnipeg from September 15th to 17th. Get you tickets now! It is just one of an array of touring shows and unique productions featured at the festival this year. FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage runs from September 14-21 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film!

Writing Outside the Box

A unique writing process resulted in a distinctive script that we are very excited to premiere at FemFest! A nurse, a mother who cannot care for her baby, and a woman waiting to adopt a child – these three women weave their stories of before and after a baby is placed in a safe haven box at a hospital.

The three-person narrative story that is Baby Box was written by three playwrights. One of our recent Winnipeg imports Thomas Morgan Jones, Artistic Director at Prairie Theatre Exchange, is the Dramaturg behind this revolutionary play that tells a chilling story of one baby and the three women who decide his fate. Jones commissioned Eva Barrie, Miranda Calderon, and Michelle Polak to write and then brought them together to create a beautifully lyrical piece. In a workshop process they added dance and song to better portray the story and their shared connection.

FemFest is excited to be using a local cast and artistic team to stage the first full production of this new play. Stay tuned for announcement of the full artistic team.

For now, here is a little more on the three playwrights:

Eva-Barrie-HeadshotEva Barrie

Originally from Okotoks, Alberta, Eva is a Toronto-based director, actor, dramaturg and creator. She is a graduate of Ryerson University\s Performance Acting Program and has trained with Anne Bogart’s SITI Company in Saratoga Springs, NY and New York City, NY. Her writing has been supported by Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Gargantua, The Theatre Centre, Theatre Smith-Gilmour, DaPoPo Theatre, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. While the playwright-in-residence at Theatrefront, she developed her piece Five Forests, a fantastical play about miscarriage. Other playwriting credits include Agency (Yell Rebel) and My Co-Mates & Brothers in Exile (Shakespeare in the Ruff). Eva is currently the co-artistic director of Shakespeare in the Ruff.

 

Headshot-MirandaCalderonMiranda Calderon

Most recently, Miranda was co-creator and performer for Flashing Lights (Theatre Centre/Bad New Days and Kick and Push Festival), directed by Adam Paolozza, and received Dora Award nominations for Best New Play and Best Performance-Ensemble. Other recent stage credits include Elena in Weyni Mengesha’s production of Nicolas Billon’s Butcher (Mirvish/Why Not Theatre), co-creator and performer in Italian Mine Suicide//Three Red Days (Theatre Centre/Bad News Days) and performer/producer for Dennis Kelly’s Taking Care Of Baby (Storefront Theatre), directed by Birgit Schreyer Duarte. Miranda’s acting on-camera work includes the Hulu miniseries 11.22.63 (J.J. Abrams), and with her company Midnight Snack Miranda has written, produced, and acted in two short films, Alegra & Jim (recently featured in an LA Times article on the James Toback accusations/Me Too movement) and Body Parts (Telefilm’s ‘Not Short on Talent’ at Berlin International Film Festival). She is currently developing her first feature film. Miranda did her MFA at London International School of Performing Arts in the UK  and her BA at Columbia University in New York.

 

Michelle PolakMichelle Polak

Michelle is an award-winning interdisciplinary actor, creator, writer and teacher. Originally from Montreal, she is now based primarily in Toronto where she is also a dedicated mother of five. She has performed internationally and in Canada in acclaimed productions such as The Chairs (Modern Times Stage Co.), The Overcoat, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Canadian Stage), Tout Comme Elle (Necessary Angel/Luminato), Head à Tête (Theatre Direct), I, Claudia (Crows Theatre), The Sacrifice Zone, Avaricious, Raging Dreams: Into the Visceral, Reflector (Theatre Gargantua), Trace (Vertical City), Marion Bridge, The Snow Queen (Theatre New Brunswick), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in the Ruff). Michelle has been honoured as one of NOW Magazine’s number one artists and is the first woman in Canada to receive the Patrick Crean Award. Michelle began her directorial career in 2013, co-directing Oubliette with Kevin Rees for Summerworks, followed by Christel Bartelese’s All KIDding Aside, which had successful runs at the Toronto, Hamilton and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals.

See the WORLD PREMIERE of Baby Box during FemFest 2019!

Show dates and times are:
Wednesday, September 18th @ 8:30PM
Thursday, September 19th @ 8:30PM
Friday, September 20th @ 8:30PM

For more information on Baby Box and other productions visit the FemFest website. We can’t wait for you to see what we have in store.

Do What You Love/You’ll Never Work A Day

Coming up this weekend… “Making a Living in Theatre” a round-table discussion with five professionals at the ready to answer all and any questions you may have about making a living in the theatre industry! Plus, a chance to share your own experiences. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in the industry for years, all are welcome!

Here is a sneak peek at who you can expect to see this Saturday, June 22nd at 2pm:


KATIE GERMAN Katie

Katie German is a Winnipeg based performer, director and educator. She received her training in Musical Theatre Performance at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton and studied classical voice through the University of Manitoba.

Katie is the owner and director of Junior Musical Theatre Company (JMTC), a pre-professional children’s musical theatre company which teaches the basics of singing, dancing and acting culminating in two performances yearly. Katie is also the Artistic Associate with Manitoba Theatre for Young People, a Voice Director and character voice for an upcoming cartoon due for release in January 2019, a theatre performer and a mother to a beautiful four-year-old that loves to sing and dance.


KAREN SCHELLENBERG

Karen Schellenberg is an instructor and production manager at the University of Manitoba. She oversees all technical aspects for productions with the Theatre Program while teaching its Technical Theatre students the joys of backstage work. She enjoys designing lights, sets, and costumes for some of its major productions, most recently set and lights for Love’s Labour’s Lost and costumes for Peer Gynt and Marat/Sade.

Karen trained at the U of M’s Black Hole Theatre Company before spending several years as a professional stage hand in Toronto and surrounding areas. After returning to Winnipeg to work at the university, Karen nurtured local contacts by catching theatre calls and working in summer festivals. Find her back at the Fringe this summer!


DONNA FLETCHERDonna Fletcher photo low res.

Donna Fletcher is an accomplished actor, singer, and concert performer with a wide range of national experience in theatre, musical theatre, and symphonic work.  Proud of her prairie roots, Donna received her early training in Winnipeg and earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Manitoba, a diploma in Music Theatre from The Banff Centre for the Arts, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from The University of Toronto and trained in Shakespeare text & voice at the Simon Fraser Voice Intensive.

As an actor, Donna has been acclaimed in principle roles from east to west with the Charlottetown Festival, Drayton Festival, Rainbow Stage, Theatre Calgary, Stage West Calgary, the National Arts Centre, Manitoba Opera, MTC, PTE, MTYP, WJT, the Belfry Theatre and Persephone Theatre.  She has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony; the Florida Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and was featured on the CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera.

Donna will direct the first regional production of Phantom of the Opera at Opera on the Avalon in October 2019 and has the distinction of being the first Winnipeg born female to direct at Rainbow Stage. Her favourite role of all time is being mum to Amalia.


FRANCES KONCAN

Frances Koncan is an Anishinaabe-Slovenian writer, director, and independent theatre and film producer originally from Couchiching First Nation. She attended Fort Richmond Collegiate, where she studied french horn and skipped all her other classes. Later, she went to the University of Manitoba, where she said goodbye to her career as a professional musician for a lucrative degree in Psychology instead. When the economy was tragically struck by a recession, she saw a perfect opportunity to pursue what was to be the most financially responsible career path of all time, and flew off to New York City to study Playwriting at Brooklyn College! Since then, she has returned back to Winnipeg where she evenly divides her time between yachting, writing, and curating her social media presence. She has been nominated for several awards, but never wins any of them. She prints all her grant applications on pink, scented paper to give it that extra something special.

VAULT PROJECTS is an independent theatre collective with a focus on creating new theatrical work for our contemporary cultural climate, and re-envision classics through a decolonized, pop culture lens.


SIMON MIRON

Simon Miron is a writer, director, actor and arts educator based out of Winnipeg Manitoba. He has been teaching for over a decade and has participated in the development and creation of dozens of new works. He obtained his Masters from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which was recently ranked in the Top 5 performing arts schools in the world. Recent simoncredits include: Writer: Freestyle Fantastique, Corner Of, Voices in my head. Director: Pippin (ViC/WST) The Last 48 (ArtLaunch), American Idiot, Young Frankenstein (WST), Lucky Stiff (MDA), Songs for a New World (WRP), 7Stories (TBTR). Actor: Little Shop of Horrors, South Pacific, Les Misérables, The Little Mermaid, The Producers (Rainbow), Selkrik Avenue, Bridges of Madison County (DryCold), Am I not King (zone41/Royal Canoe), Butcher, Le Père, Heyderabad (CM), House on Pooh Corner, James and The Giant Peach, Honk (MTYP) and Blithe Spirit (Echo Theatre), Sunday in the Park with George (Galleryworks). He is a founding member of the Village Conservatory for Music Theatre.


The discussion takes place this Saturday, June 22nd at 2PM! Follow the signs in the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film up to room 2T05 where we will have refreshments and friendly faces ready to answer questions, listen, talk, and share. The event is pay-what-you-choose and will run between 1.5-2 hours.

We hope to see you there!

To Infinity… And Beyond!

Forging a future for FemFest requires providing a space for the next generation of voices. To this end we have initiated an exciting new program. At this year’s FemFest, you will get to see the results of their development in progress! “The Launchpad Project” compiles a roster of emerging women and non-binary artists whose creative mediums range from a variety of disciplines: directors, dancers, performers, playwrights, technical crew, etc. This diverse and well rounded team will take part in intensive workshops over the summer including: movement work, vocal work, improvisation, devised theatre and scene-writing. Professionals working in Winnipeg’s theatre industry will lead these workshops and mentor the creative team.

The goal of this project is to give emerging artists a chance to learn, develop skills and network with industry professionals. How does it tie into FemFest? Along with all of the professional shows we put on at FemFest in September, The Launchpad will premiere a devised production connected to the FemFest theme just for YOU! The result of ongoing rehearsals over the summer and training alongside professionals! This is an exciting opportunity for both the artists and the spectators alike. The Launchpad ensemble will have the chance to display their hard work for you the audience, while spectators will have the chance to see a brand new work of theatre with a fresh cast and crew.

Facilitating and Coordinating the Launchpad are Victoria Hill and Lindsay Johnson. They are ecstatic to be helping a new group of performers break through and create their own piece for FemFest.

As for the ensemble members… here’s a list of who you can expect to see:

  • A.J. Hotomani
  • Anika Dowsett
  • Emma Welham
  • Jonathan Mourant
  • Karam Daoud
  • Leaf Pankratz
  • Makrenna Sterdan
  • Sara Groleau
  • Sarah Flynn
  • Bennette Villones, ASM

We can’t wait to see what this amazing team comes up with! We know it will be riveting!

Stay tuned for more details on this exciting project and the up-and-comers involved. Also, check out our just launched FemFest 2019 website!

Making A Living In Theatre

  • By Brooklyn Kilfoyle, Marketing and Community Outreach Assistant

Are you new to the world of theatre? Just graduated? Feeling a little lost? Or have you worked in the industry for years and are looking to share and hear common experiences? Every year, we hold a series of panels, workshops and discussions. Next on the docket, we are hosting a round table discussion all about, “Making a Living in Theatre.” In such a competitive and intense field of work, it can be hard to navigate the path towards finding success in the theatre industry. We want you to find success in your passion and that is the goal of our next professional development offering on June 22nd.

We have brought together professionals who not only work in the theatre industry, but who have found success in their respective fields. In the round-table, you will sit among professionals and newbies alike and discuss the theatre industry. You will have opportunities to ask your own questions and have them answered by people who have experienced exactly what you are working towards, all while sharing a common love of theatre.

As a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, I know I am constantly full of questions. “Where should I be looking for jobs?” “How do I network?” These questions can be daunting and scary and there have been many Brooklyn Kilfoyle, a twenty-two year old woman with green eyes and short dark hair wearing a pink turtle neck.times I wished there was someone to guide me. One of the most prominent questions others seem to ask me is, “is it even possible to make a living in theatre?” And of course it is! There are so many professional people right here in Winnipeg who live very successful lives working in theatre. Of course, it’s hard to remember that when you don’t personally know these people. Which is why this session is such a great opportunity for fresh graduates like me, it’s a starting point. A chance to meet people in the industry and get a sense of what it’s like to fully submerge yourself into it.

This discussion isn’t just for the newbies, like me. It’s for anyone trying to make a living in theatre! Whether you’re new to it, or been in the industry for years. We want this to be a safe and productive space where you can share your experiences, have others relate, ask your questions and have them answered. Or simply, just come and listen! We will have a panel of professionals signed on and ready to share.A group of men and women of various ages sitting in a circle, talking

The round table discussion will take place on June 22nd at The Asper Centre For Theatre and Film (400 Colony) at 2PM in room 2T05. Access to the discussion is on a “pay what you choose” donation basis, we ask that if you plan on attending the round table, you send an email to Sami at production@sarasvati.ca. Show up with your questions ready, sit, listen, learn and share your own experiences! We hope you can make it!

More details on who you can expect to see at the round table coming soon, so stay tuned!