Take A Bow!

Spectacular! Fun! Powerful! Remarkable!

These are just a few of the words audiences have used to describe FemFest 2016: Transformation!

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The Seduction Theory Cast, Playwright Sherry MacDonald and Director, Hope McIntyre

This year’s collection of amazing works included the world premiere of The Seduction Theory by Sherry MacDonald. The all-star cast – comprised of Hailley Rhoda, Hannah Wigglesworth, Grant Burr and Merri-Lou Paterson – brought to life the moving story of 15-year-old Cass as she tries to break out of a system that shames and silences young girls. Sherry received a slew of great feedback from a special talkback after the opening show, which she’ll take into her planned expansion of the play.

The Opening Night Cabaret presented an array of diverse local talent including improv master Robyn Slade, indigenous filmmaker Sonya Ballantyne, Alissa Watson and Spenser Payne of Red Nose Diaries and many more! A huge thank you to our Cabaret sponsors, Garbonzo’s University of Winnipeg AnX, Baked Expectations & Banville & Jones for providing our packed-house with delicious food, dessert and beverages!

Morro & Jasp Do Puberty gave FemFest goers side-splitting laughter with the hilarious take on puberty and periods! The clown duo also mentored a handful of local artists with their Impulse & Play: Discovering your Inner Clown workshop and The Real Thing Lecture presented in partnership with the University of Winnipeg Department of Theatre and Film.

The annual fan-favourite Bake-Off was a hit, with its mixture of dramatic, heartbreaking and comical pieces. This year’s five emerging playwrights stretched their writing chops with Jessy Ardern ultimately winning Audience Choice and the Janet Taylor Award! She’ll have a chance to have her winning scene, Kit & Joe, developed for FemFest 2017!

Featuring fantastic movement and vocal performances along with amazing on-stage chemistry, Mouthpiece received standing ovations for its beautiful piece of trauma, triumph and will power.

Shocking, raw and scarily honest, audiences were also moved to tears by the frank theatre company theatrical poem Miss Understood by Antonette Rea. FemFest’s first trans* artist charmed her audiences and brought forth an important message about gender equality to Winnipeg.

SHORTs from the Shortlist provided extra entertainment every night. New this year was the SHORTs Showcase, featuring all nine chosen pieces. The staged readings took place at Garbonzo’s University of Winnipeg AnX who donated their space for the private SHORTs party!

All and all, FemFest 2016 was a blast! With a line-up brimming with so much talent, and lovely engaging audiences every night, FemFest and Canadian Theatre keeps getting better and better every year! We’re exciting to see what FemFest 2017 will have in store – it is our 15th anniversary afterall! If you are an artist wanting to get involved check out the call for submissions.

Shorts Earn a Showcase!

SHORTS from the Shortlist at FemFest 2016
Review by Meg Crane

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The FemFest Shorts team

If you happened to catch the Shorts, then you’re probably rearranging your schedule to see the full readings on Sept. 24 at Garbonzos.

 

Without props, complete memorization of lines or even a stage, the actors draw the audience into the stories and leaving everyone laughing and gasping throughout the 10 minute performances. In moments, they’re able to build up suspense and captivate the small classroom full of people.

A by donation show, you’ve got nothing to lose by checking it out. Expect your Saturday afternoon plans.


You can catch shorts as fillers for the remaining nights of FemFest. Solo Journeys by Kirsten Van Ritzen and Saudade by Frances Koncan will be read on September 23rd at 8:15pm, entry by donation; and September 24th at 8:15pm will feature The Living Library by Linda McCready. This year for the first time a Shorts Showcase is also being offered so audiences can see all nine pieces! To make it truly a celebration it will be hosted at Garbonzo’s Pizza Pub so you can order a drink and food to accompany the entertainment. The full showcase is $15 a ticket and takes place on September 24th at 3pm at Garbonzo’s in the U of W AnX. Click for details!

Miss Understood Leaves You Speechless

Miss Understood from the frank theatre company
Review by Meg Crane

miss-undertood-muscleWith stunning audio and visuals, Miss Understood is a powerful story told from a voice we so infrequently hear. Antonette Rea is a trans woman who comes to us from the streets of Vancouver where she worked the streets.

Along with two other performers, she owns the stage with a voice that demands to be heard and impressive high heels. This trio share a connection and closeness that can be felt from off-stage. Throwing a laugh or comforting touch as they bring Rea’s prose to life, it’s difficult at times to tell where the acting ends and the real emotions begin, or if the whole piece is infused with real, raw human emotions.

Her poetry translates so well to the stage, it feels like that’s where she’s meant to be. Rea stands in front of us, vulnerable, but with a tough exterior. She owns her story. There are few moments when we see underneath. We see the deep sadness and pain from the many horrific things society has done to her. There’s a moment when she first mentions a brutal assault at the hands of authorities that only the most callous person’s heart would not stop, then jumpstart again with an ache and desire to reach out and comfort her.

Rea could easily fill the hour with her trauma. Instead, she gently brings the audience up and down, peppering the performance with moments of light and humour. We get to see the saucy, adorable and fun side of this powerful woman.

This is a must-see show for everyone. Rea makes herself relatable and brings us into her world. She shows us how difficult it is to be a pre-op, trans woman selling sex to make it by.

Bring tissue and expect to be left without words.

They are two more chances to catch the show at FemFest – September 23 at 7pm and September 24 at 9pm. Click for details and tickets. Rea will also be doing a free reading from her poetry at Bison Books on September 24 at 1pm.

Come One, Come All – FemFest is Great Transformative Theatre!

img_20160917_160757Wow! What a whirlwind week it’s been so far and just three more days to catch shows that likely won’t be seen again in Winnipeg!

The first day of FemFest 2016 kicked off with a moving premiere performance of The Seduction Theory and full house for the Opening Night Cabaret!

The Seduction Theory actors Hailley Rhoda, Hannah Wigglesworth, Merri-Lou Paterson and Grant Burr brought Sherry’s and director Hope McIntyre’s vision to life and wowed audiences in the first few days of the fest. The opening production also featured a special talkback, where audiences discussed on-going issues facing young women in the 1950s and today.

The Cabaret was a blast – with back-to-back spectacular performances from some of Winnipeg’s best in theatre, comedy, music, film and dance!

On day two, Winnipeg’s theatre and comedy community got silly with Morro & Jasp! The clown duo, Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee, took eighteen emerging clowns under their wing with their Impulse and Play: Discovering your Inner Clown workshop. They continue their comedy streak in Winnipeg, with performances of Morro & Jasp do Puberty until Thursday.

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Janet Taylor Bake-Off Award winner Jessy Ardern with Janet Taylor’s family

Monday night’s Bake-Off gave audiences something to laugh and cry about! Taking ingredients duct tape, unbridled passion and class and turning it into this year’s Bake-Off Audience Choice, was playwright Jessy Ardern with her scene Kit and Joe. Jessy received the Janet Taylor Bake-Off award of $500. Congrats to all the playwrights who were chosen for the Bake-Off!

 

Don’t miss out on the last chance to catch some great transformative theatre (or see it all again!)

Morro & Jasp Do Puberty
Thursday, Sept. 22, 1 pm
This is your last chance to see Morro & Jasp Do Puberty at FemFest. Check out what audiences are talking about with the clown sister’s hilarious look at growing up! A definite must-see for anyone who loves to laugh (which is basically everyone)!

Mouthpiece
Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 pm | Friday, Sept. 23, 9 pm
This artistic piece encapsulates the ups-and-downs and swirls of thoughts that go through a young woman’s head as she deals with a life-altering tragedy. It’s first performance at FemFest was met with a standing ovation for the incredible performances. It is riveting, powerful and truly a masterclass in acting.

Miss Understood
Thursday, Sept. 22, 9 pm | Friday, Sept. 23, 7 pm | Saturday, Sept. 24, 9 pm
Spoken-word poet, Antonette Rea takes you on an emotional journey through her life lived in isolation and discrimination as a trans* woman in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. This one is sure to bring you to tears. Help us welcome this show from Vancouver and our first trans* artist to FemFest!!

Poetry Reading with Antonette Rea
Saturday, Sept. 24, 1 pm, Bison Books, 424 Graham Ave.
Meet Antonette Rea and hear excerpts from her work. This free poetry reading takes place at Bison Books and will include a special Q&A session.

SHORTs Showcase
Saturday, Sept. 24, 3 pm, Garbonzo’s University of Winnipeg AnX, 471 Balmoral St.
New this year is the SHORTs Showcase. Catch all nine SHORTs from the Short-List all in one sitting! This will be a riot of laughs, tears and heart-stopping stories.

The Seduction Theory
Saturday, Sept. 24, 7pm
This will be your last chance to see The Seduction Theory on the FemFest stage. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this world premiere.

For tickets and more information, please visit femfest.ca or call 204-586-2236. Tickets are also available at the door.

Eight Days of Life-Changing Theatre

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Let the countdown begin! In less than two days we’ll be taking over the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (The University of Winnipeg) to showcase the best in Canadian theatre by women for everyone. You bet we are beyond excited for FemFest 2016: Transformation!

Featuring everything from the real-life struggles of a trans* poet, the inner battle of a woman’s mind, a clown-duo’s growing pains, to the damaging treatment of young girls; FemFest 2016 is jam-packed with plays that celebrate unfaltering female strength and power. Our 14th annual festival is guaranteed to captivate and take you on an emotional journey! Here’s the festival breakdown to help you plan your FemFest filled week!

Playwright Reading by Sherry MacDonald
Sept. 16, 1pm. John J. Conklin Theatre (University of Manitoba)
Sherry MacDonald will be presenting a free public reading from her work. This is your opportunity to hear from the celebrated professional playwright from Vancouver and ask questions!

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The Seduction Theory
Photo: Janet Shum

The Seduction Theory by Sherry MacDonald
Sept. 17th – 24th – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Find out the fate of a 15-year old in the 1950s when she becomes too much to handle at home. This powerful drama delves into our society’s criminalization and sexual exploitation of young underprivileged girls. The Seduction Theory was the winner of the FemFest 2015 Bake-Off and the 2016 Special Merit Award from the Theatre BC Playwriting competition.

Opening Cabaret and Reception
Sept. 17th, 7pm – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Hosted by Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Lara Rae, the Opening Night Cabaret is our annual variety show showcasing some of Winnipeg’s best female artists in theatre, film, music, visual arts and dance. It wouldn’t be a party without food and beverages! The cabaret includes dinner by Garbonzo’s U of Winnipeg AnX, dessert by Baked Expectations, wine from Banville & Jones Wine Co. and coffee from Starbucks.

Bake-Off
Sept. 19th, 7 pm – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Coordinated and directed by Cairn Moore – In partnership with the Manitoba Association of Playwrights. We challenged five selected playwrights with three “must-have” ingredients and eight hours to cook up their own ten-minute theatrical treats! With this year’s ingredients of “duct tape, unbridled passion, and class,” you won’t want to miss what these young emerging playwrights came up with.

SHORTS
Sept. 19th – 24th, 8:15pm – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Special SHORTs Showcase – Sept. 24th, 3pm – Garbonzo’s (U of Winnipeg AnX)
Every night at 8:15pm, audiences can treat themselves to a staged reading of a SHORT from the Shortlist. These ten-minute excerpts/scenes will be presented in between the evening’s 7pm and 9pm shows. With 9 selected shorts, each night will be different. New this year is the SHORTs showcase. On Sept. 24th at 3 pm, audiences can see all nine shorts at once at Garbonzo’s.

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Morro and Jasp Do Puberty
Sept. 20th-22nd

Morro and Jasp Do Puberty by Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee
Sept. 20th – 22nd – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Clown sisters Morro and Jasp hilariously take you through the trials and tribulations of growing up! From uncontrollable emotions and raging hormones to the pain and strain of bodily functions, the smash hit is sure to induce some side-splitting laughter!

 

Mouthpiece by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava
Sept 21st – 23rd – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Interweaving a cappella harmonies, dissonance, text and physicality, Mouthpiece expresses the emotional conflict that exists within a woman’s head: the push and the pull, the past and the present, the progress and the regression.

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Miss Understood
Sept. 22nd – 24th

Miss Understood by Antonette Rea
Sept. 22nd – 24th – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Vancouver’s spoken-word poet and activist, Antonette Rea is a survivor. Having lived through horrific experiences of marginalization and abuse as a trans* person, Rea has turned that pain into a beautiful eye-opening piece about struggle, triumph and compassion. Miss Understood is a theatrical poem based on her incredible life story.

Poetry Reading by Antonette Rea
Sept. 24, 1pm – Bison Books (424 Graham Ave.)
Antonette Rea will be doing a free public reading at Bison Books. The celebrated trans* woman street poet will read from her collection of works. Her words are powerful and her personality brings life to every word. This is a unique chance to hear her in Winnipeg.

Grab your tickets to FemFest 2016: Transformation at femfest.ca or by calling 204-586-2236. Tickets are selling fast, so get yours early! Subscription packages are also available and include passes to FemFest 2016 and tickets to the rest of the exciting Sarasvati Productions 2016/17 Season!

Love, Money & the Invention of Duct Tape

Duct tape, unbridled passion and class – these are the magic ingredients of the FemFest 2016 Bake-Off.

The annual fan-favourite challenge put five brave playwrights in a race against their own creativity and the clock. With three “must-have” ingredients and eight hours, these playwrights cooked up their own ten-minute theatrical treat!

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“…You want to dress for comfort so you can focus on writing, but also dress to impress in case a writing agent or an oil tycoon from Saudi Arabia walks by!” – Frances Koncan, #LiveAtTheBakeOff

On August 19th, the five selected playwrights met with director Cairn Moore for the official unveiling of the Bake-Off 2016 ingredients and began their Bake-Off challenge. Throughout the day the playwrights kept followers posted on Facebook and Twitter with #LiveAtTheBakeOff. These posts included hilarious tips and updates on their process.

Now the writing is done and audiences can enjoy staged readings of these scenes on September 19 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.

Even more exciting, viewers cast their vote for the Bake-Off Audience Choice. The winning playwright receives the Janet Taylor Bake-Off Award of $500 and the highly coveted opportunity to have a reading of their full script at FemFest 2017! How’s that for a prize?

We are excited to present this year’s Bake-Off playwrights and their imaginative scenes:

Angie St. Mars, She’s All Dead – An emerging playwright, director, comedian, performer and Apprentice Dramaturge at the Manitoba Association of Playwrights, Angie received her B.A with a Double Major in Politics and Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg. She has recently emerged on the Winnipeg comedy scene as a core member of Winnipeg Sketch Comedy groups Free Snacks and President Bear. You bet her Bake-Off piece about the struggles of a female ghost will exude a slice of her humour.

Frances Koncan, Duct Tape Terrace – The Anishinaabe writer, director, and producer studied at the University of Manitoba with a BA Psychology and the City University of New York Brooklyn College with a MFA in Playwriting. The 2016 Harry Rintoul Award recipient for Best New Play at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and shortlisted for the 2016 Tarragon Emerging Playwrights Award, Frances is definitely making waves in Canadian Theatre. Her Bake-Off scene takes hilarious elements of current pop-culture and peppers it into this piece about haunted love.

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Bake-Off 2016 Playwrights: Wren Brian, Gislina Patterson, Angie St. Mars & Frances Koncan

Gislina Patterson, Coffee – A theatre performer and producer for the past ten years, Gislina has recently begun work as a writer, director, and performance artist. With a diverse set of training in clown, devised theatre, physical theatre, and performance art, she melds these elements into her Bake-Off drama, Coffee.

Jessy Ardern, Kit & Joe – Jessy is an actor, playwright, co-Artistic Director of The Struts and Frets Players and two-time winner of the Harry S. Rintoul Award for best new Manitoba play at the Winnipeg Fringe. She recently completed her BFA in acting at the University of Alberta, and has now brought her talents to the Bake-Off challenge with Kit & Joe.

wrenbake-off-tweet-2016Wren Brian, From The Depths – A graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre & Film Honours Program, Wren began her theatre career as an actor and stage manager. She has now transitioned into playwriting, directing, and producing. Her work is focused on contributing to equity in theatre by creating unique characters that can be played by any gender, ethnicity, and age. She continues this mission with her thought-provoking scene, From The Depths.

Catch the staged-readings of FemFest 2016 Bake-Off on September 19th, at 7 pm. Scenes will be performed by the talented Bake-Off cast: Ian Bastin, Jane Burpee, Andres Collantes, Nan Fewchuk and Spenser Payne. For tickets visit, femfest.ca or call 204-586-2236.

The Battle Between Her Head and Her Heart

Take a look into the mind of a woman. See the intricate and endless sea of thoughts, the swirls of brilliant ideas, the storms of emotion and the boundless inner strength.

mouthpiece2With their play Mouthpiece, creators/performers Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava (Quote Unquote Collective) perfectly encapsulate the beautiful whirlwind that lives inside our heads.

Presenting Mouthpiece at FemFest 2016: Transformation, Amy and Norah take us through their inspiration and the importance of seeing the show.

What were your inspirations for the play?
When we started creating Mouthpiece, we had set out looking for an authentic representation of what it was like to be a woman, right now, today. And, when we couldn’t find one, we decided to make this play. Mouthpiece tries to capture what it’s like inside our heads. The myriad of emotions, the epic canon of things we’ve never said, of things we’ve never done, or things we have done and now look back on and ask – why did I do that? Why did I say that? The inner struggle, the beautiful rage, the ugly truth, the propagation of bullshit, the strength, the cognitive dissonance…Mouthpiece is a deep investigation into our own selves. What is left after we strip away the influences and the lies, the privilege and the pressure?

In the show we play two sides (and by two sides I mean a fraction of the innumerable sides) of one woman’s head. We felt it was necessary to use two performers because, well, one wasn’t enough. There’s too much going on in there. Describing what it’s like to be a woman needs more than one woman as it turns out. Much of the play is sung a cappella because as we also discovered, words are sometimes not enough. Song and melody allow us to harness the muzzled voices of women who came before us. We sing, wail, chant, hum, and scream along with them.

This play leaves us naked, vulnerable, and exposed and it can be terrifying. We are very excited to bring it to Winnipeg.

Why are you excited to be in FemFest this year and why do you think Winnipeg audiences should see the production?
We have been touring with Mouthpiece for almost a year now, and in every tour stop the response is a little different.

Audiences react and respond in diverse ways to different parts of the show depending on their own experience, background or mood at the time. It is a densely layered play, so people pick up different themes or narrative threads. Many audience members return for a second or third viewing and seem to make new discoveries every time.

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Photo Credit: Joel Clifton

We love arriving in a new town and knowing that there is absolutely no guarantee about what kind of response we will get. Raucous laughter, sobbing, or silent attention, we have had it all. Additionally, neither of us have ever visited Winnipeg before so we really have no idea what to expect. Walking into that unknown is equally terrifying and exciting for us.

In the context of FemFest, it is thrilling to know that we will be surrounded by a population of other powerful female artists. This is a rare and special thing, an all-female festival with a mandate to promote social change.  It is a dream to be in the company of a group of people who are all on board to create the kind of change that we aim to work towards every day.

We hope, however, that we won’t just be preaching to the choir, but that those people will invite their friends and family who may not already be a part of the converted. It is important to us that the ideas of gender equality and women’s rights don’t remain siloed inside of a specific community, but can expand to the minds of those people who may not think about it on a regular basis.

We look forward to meeting you all at FemFest!

Catch Mouthpiece at FemFest 2016: Transformation at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film from September 17 to 24. For tickets and information, visit femfest.ca

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