Lessons from RAUNCH

Jacqueline Russell in RAUNCH

Lesson of the day: When you are performing in a show called RAUNCH, and you go to google your show to check on press reviews and general buzz, you need to choose the words you enter into the search engine VERY CAREFULLY. Otherwise you get to experience the antithesis of your show with stark pulsating pornographic images that only the World Wide Web can offer.

I suspect this experience is similar to what a few of our audience members experience when they turn up to see a show called RAUNCH with expectations of hot girls making out and instead get an educational/entertaining show based on a book by feminist author Ariel Levy. Fortunately even the unsuspecting have seemed to enjoy our outrageous antics and wild humour and leave with a grin on their face and perhaps a little food for thought…

However, Lesson of the day Number 2: is, don’t judge an audience member on their familiarity with the topic. I have been constantly amazed by the diversity of our audience members and their unlikely interest in the topic of “raunch culture.” We have had teenagers, seniors, men, women, girls dressed in mini skirts, dudes with dreadlocks, moms with toddlers at home, dads with teenaged daughters and even a 75 year old couple all enjoy our show immensely.  This confirms for me that “raunch culture” (and especially the sexualization of young girls and women) is an area that affects everyone in our society on some level.

What also confirms this theory is the fact that I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t have something to say about “raunch culture.” The far-reaching influence of the mass media machine ensures that everyone has at least brushed arms with some element of “raunch culture” (if you listen to the radio even a little you have probably heard the lyrics “my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard”). And while the universality of “raunch culture” is quite frightening, it is also heartening because a dialogue about it is something everyone can participate in- (which is the whole reason Alice and I wrote RAUNCH in the first place- to initiate dialogue.)

Out of all of the reviews we have received so far my favorite comment has been from an Edmonton Fringe Reviewer who said: “The play truly begins when you start thinking about it afterwards”. Wow. I can’t think of a nicer compliment for a theatre artist than the knowledge that something they created has incited further thought and discussion.

To see the full review please click on the link below:


In fact our show has been very well received at the Edmonton Fringe, selling out nearly every show and being held over for two additional shows. Alice and I are having a blast performing the show, but I have to admit that my favorite thing has been getting to chat about it with audience members afterwards. I can’t wait to arrive in Winnipeg for FemFest and participate in a dialogue there too!

For more information about RAUNCH: The rise of the “Female Chauvinist Pigs” check out:




Jacqueline Russell

Co-creator and performer,

RAUNCH “The Rise of the Female Chauvinist Pigs”

Why is Tanya Pillay Looking Forward to bringing “All of Him” to FemFest?

All of Him

Tanya Pillay in All of Him

Since the beginning of workshop development (March 2009) and finally subsequent All of Him fully staged production in Toronto (SummerWorks 2010), feedback has ranged from “Everyone needs to experience this” to “this isn’t theatre”. With FemFest: On the Edge set to “push the boundaries of conventional theatre by showcasing performances that are innovative, inspirational”, I am eager to see if my unconventional approach to the subject matter and storytelling in general take root any differently in Winnipeg than I’ve observed thus far.

After one invited reading, one public reading, and 4 community-based workshops including newcomer youths, friends & family, and a personal development group, I thought I’d “heard it all” in the way of audience questions and comments I invite during the piece.

Then after our 7-show run in Summerworks, I heard still more comments and questions that I had yet to hear earlier (some of which I had never even considered). So again, I’m inclined to think ‘Surely by now I’ve heard it all!’

Expats tell me that FemFest is a well-known festival with a solid following. This with Saravati Productions’ mandate to inspire through theatre and Winnipeg’s reputation as a bustling artistic hub (yes, word has reached us all the way over here in Toronto!), I’m anticipating still more new, challenging questions and insightful comments during All of Him at FemFest 2010.

The pressure’s on, Winnipeg. You are welcome to watch in silence, but I’m ready and eager to hear what you’ve got for me…and ultimately for each other.

-Tanya Pillay

Highlights from All of Him Reviews:

Torontoist – Your Cheat Sheet to SummerWorks 2010

Writer/actor Tanya Pillay’s one-woman biographical play–cum–public dialogue…focuses on the life of Pat, her  father. It begins innocently enough, touching upon Pat’s work in the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, and his tremendous accomplishments as a husband, career microbiologist, and father. The tale moves along with pauses for such audience interactions as Q&A sessions and the passing along of artifacts from Pat’s life …when a bombshell of scandal is dropped and the tone irrevocably shifts. Pillay moves from storyteller to discussion facilitator as the audience helps mediate the narrative of her relationship with her father and his wrongdoings. This makes for an unexpectedly engaging, and rewarding, piece of interactive theatre. KK

TWISI Theatre Blog (The Way I See It Theatre Blog)


by Amanda Campbell

All of Him, a one woman show written and performed by Tanya Pillay,…is a discussion between the performer and the audience…the audience’s curiosity, their willingness to engage with Pillay and the story she is telling, and the perspectives and opinions of everyone in the room dictate the direction of the “show.”

What makes this play work so well is how warm and generous Tanya Pillay is with her audience. She lures everyone into her world with such congeniality and charisma that once it is revealed why we have been assembled in this space and why we are being taken on this journey, the audience is already invested in Tanya’s story and therefore she can draw earnest reactions, inquisitive and poignant questions from an audience who may not ordinarily feel comfortable sharing its thoughts with a bunch of strangers at the theatre. At the performance I attended, the questions that were asked were both free flowing and insightful, and Pillay answered them all with a brave openness, respect, genuine reflection and, thankfully, her natural comic instinct, which keeps the piece from plunging too deep into a dark, sombre hole.

All of Him is a very interesting mixture of theatre and reality…at the show I saw Pillay was moved to actual tears onstage, which is a very different experience than watching an actor, regardless how talented, pretend to be moved to tears within the framework of a fictional world. Still, it is clear from this performance that Tanya Pillay is an exquisite performer and one who can hold her audience entirely captivated in the palm of her hand whether she is making a terrible Jaws joke or telling a very deep, very dark and horrific secret.


NOW Magazine

ALL OF HIM Part play, part group discussion…All of Him is writer/actor Tanya Pillay’s look at her father and her feelings about him. Engaging and brave, Pillay starts with charming material but shifts to an upsetting episode that lies at the heart of the piece…Pillay’s transparent, open performance grounds the show.

Panic Manual

By Brian / Panic Manual.com

All of Him is less a play and more of a…well, to be honest, I’m not sure what to call it…The subject is Pat Pillay, the playwright/performer Tanya Pillay’s father, and the challenge is this: how do you reconcile what you know about a loving father with accusations that he’s committed a terrible crime?

There’s no real answer in All of Him, but it’s not for lack of trying. …Tanya Pillay tells the story of her father, encourages the audience to ask questions and express their opinions…

Pillay…tells her father’s story without shame, admits it took her years and a great deal of therapy to come to terms with him and the things he was accused of doing, and tries to get the audience to ask anything they can think of, no matter how unpleasant it might be.

On this night the audience seemed a bit reluctant…although it was interesting when Pillay’s mom and one of her cousins who had no idea his uncle had such a past spoke up. It’s a show that’s pretty raw…Pillay is an engaging performer…

Sarasvàti Productions launches new website!

After ten years in Winnipeg, Sarasvàti Productions has gone through a make-over with a new and improved website for both the company and for its annual FemFest. Check it out at www.sarasvati.ca and tell us what you think!

The new site features full details on the FemFest 2010 line-up, the ability to sign-up for our quarterly newsletter and you can now reserve tickets on-line.