Sarasvàti Productions Tackles the Environment

Sarasvàti Productions explores green issues in Fen!

A powerful and timely play to be part of ChurchillFest 2010.

Winnipeg, January 11, 2009 -– Sarasvàti Productions’ will continue its reputation for creating theatre that has an impact when Fen opens on January 23, 2010. This unflinching play about women agricultural workers is a relevant portrayal of exploitation of both the land and humanity in a modern context. 

Fen is set in the British fens, a flat and water-logged region that traps its inhabitants both literally and metaphorically. With a history that dates back to pre-Roman times the region has been drained and dyked over and over again only to have nature fight back with repeated floods; a situation that is none too familiar for Winnipeg.  As the land has exchanged hands over the centuries, oppression of the workers became the norm and now it is both the land and the female workers who are exploited for the sake of profit. 

“It’s a love story, actually, but the play is also about how these people live…” says author Caryl Churchill in an interview in the Village Voice marking the plays premiere. “It’s a complicated world,…incredibly remote and backward in some ways – in the way the workers are very badly paid and yet still feel loyal to the farmers, at the same time that it’s entirely of the present because the land they’re loyal to is owned by multinational corporations. The English have an idea that the real England is the countryside, and that it’s a beautiful retreat, completely separate from the corrupt values of people living in the cities…But it’s a pastoral fantasy.” 

The women tenant farmers of Fen expose family break-ups, domestic abuse, suicide, the back-breaking work of the poor and the indifference of government towards the economically disenfranchised. Despite the changes in land ownership nothing has changed in the lives of the farming community.  They suffer an emotional and material poverty that leaves them desperate.  They depend on the land yet even it fights back. 

Fen runs at the Rachel Browne Studio Theatre (at Contemporary Dancers, 211 Bannatyne) from January 23 to February 7, 2010 and will feature an all Winnipeg cast. The show is part of the annual Winnipeg Master Playwright Festival, which is dedicated this year to Caryl Churchill.

Written in 1983, Fen won Caryl Churchill the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

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