Say it loud, say it proud with festival SHORTS!

Sarasvàti Productions is excited to announce the line-up of Shorts for FemFest 2012: Staging Identity. Shorts will be showcased throughout the festival as “fillers.” This is a great way to fill time as you wait to see the two shows in each FemFest evening. But don’t fret, these weren’t just chosen to fill space – each  was carefully selected.

Is It Wednesday? by Pam Calabrese MacLean will begin each Shorts slot. This ten-minute play will be directed by Megan Andres and feature Miriam Bronstein and Jane Burpee. Two elderly women meet at a bus stop, as they chat they struggle to hold on to their memories. A hilarious short piece full of word play, misunderstandings and poignant exploration of the aging process.

The second half of each Shorts slot will feature readings of excerpts from plays that were shortlisted for this year’s FemFest. There were so many great plays we wanted to include but just didn’t have room. This will allow you to see some of the amazing work being written by playwrights across the country. We’re excited to announce the Short-List Shorts are:

Hungry Wolf by Cornelia Hoogland
In the Valley by Natasha MacLellan
Naked by Lisa Rose Snow
The Possible Lives of Dolores Garcia Rodriguez by Jordan Hall and Zoe Green
Virgin by Joan Kivanda

For more information about the Shorts (as well as the rest of the festival), check out www.femfest.ca.

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Kendra Jones will be directing the Short-List Shorts for FemFest 2012. Kendra is just finishing up her MA at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England. In between writing her dissertation, working full time in project management and raising a family, Kendra has also worked with the Manitoba Theatre Centre, Theatre By The River, Shakespeare in the Ruins and countless other organizations.

What is one thing every actor needs to know? Not getting cast doesn’t mean you aren’t any good, it just means you might not be right for the part. Keep preparing work, and do so in as thoughtful a manner as possible. If you don’t feel engaged with a play, a connection with the characters or story, sit this one out and wait for a piece where you do feel the connection. Theatre is something you have to love to keep doing, because it can really hurt at times.

What does every great story have to have? I just want it to hold my attention. Don’t put all the cards on the table from the start, but don’t try to be too clever with how you reveal things either. And, something I learned from playwright Lin Coghlin, don’t let the characters leave. If you think the scene has finished, don’t let the characters leave – make them stay and see what happens next. You’ll be surprised where they take you.

What is your favourite word? Lugubrious

If I could grant you a single wish, what would it be? I would have an unlimited pool of funding for arts related endeavors.

Complete the sentence: If I wasn’t typing this email interview right now, I would be… Working on my dissertation. Or procrastinating work on my dissertation.

A common misperception of me is… That I am really serious. I am actually quite silly, and for every philosopher I can quote or theatre practitioner I can reference, I can tell you about some really ridiculous question I asked or thing I did that will cause you to question my sanity.

You know me as an actor but in truer life I’d have been… A professional athlete.

Planning for FemFest 2012 Underway!

Good morning folks!

Although FemFest is a mere three months away, it will feel like no time before our favorite fall theatre festival celebrates its 10th year! Preparations are in full swing for FemFest 2012: Staging Identity. The staff at Sarasvàti will be working throughout the summer to make sure that the 10th annual festival of plays by women for everyone is its best yet!

For those of you in Winnipeg, this sudden heat wave means that summer has finally arrived in our prairie town. What better way to beat the heat than to curl up indoors and watch the latest from Sarasvàti Productions? View and share the video below to learn more about FemFest 2012: Staging Identity.

For more show information or how to buy tickets online, check out www.femfest.ca. And remember, if you haven’t already, follow us on Twitter or friend us on Facebook!

FemFest 2012 Line-Up Announced!

Sarasvàti Productions is excited to announce the performance line-up for FemFest 2012: Staging Identity, the 10th annual theatre festival of plays by women for everyone. This year’s lineup includes a wonderful mix of artists. It will be an amazing showcase of talent from across the country as well as a celebration of local playwrights. Sarasvàti Productions is thrilled to mark FemFest’s first decade in Winnipeg by offering increased community outreach and more opportunities to emerging artists.

“It is amazing that FemFest is still kicking after 10 years,” says Artistic Director Hope McIntyre. “We’ve been convinced time and time again by women theatre artists that the festival is necessary. I don’t think they’ll ever let us stop!”

You won’t want to miss touring shows from Vancouver and Montreal – Sonofabitch Stew: The Drunken Life of Calamity Jane, Women in Fish and My Pregnant Brother. We will also be presenting the world premiere of Empty, which was created in partnership with a local food bank, and Immigration Stories developed with the Immigrant Women’s Association of Manitoba. As always we are also supporting the development of new work with a workshop presentation of Talia Pura’s Cry After Midnight, a reading of Claire Therese’s In Waiting and a brand new initiative that you’ll have to see to believe entitled Bake-Off!

Full FemFest 2012: Staging Identity line-up and ticket purchasing info can be found here. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for guest blogging and special interviews with some performers, directors and playwrights from the festival.

An Evening with Playright Rex Deverell

Sarasvàti Productions is thrilled to present acclaimed playwright Rex Deverell at a special presentation this month. Deverell will be reading from his work at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue) in the Travel Alcove on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The event begins at 7:30pm – you won’t want to miss it!

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This event is possible with the support of McNally Robinson Booksellers, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Playwrights Guild of Canada. Throughout his career Deverell has spent many years in Winnipeg and this is a wonderful opportunity to welcome him back, hear selection from his plays, ask questions and have him sign copies of his work.

Rex Deverell was born in Toronto in 1941 and raised in Orillia, Ontario. He holds arts and theology degrees from McMaster and from Union Theological Seminary. In 1971, Rex began to write plays at first for the Globe Theatre school company in Regina, SK and ultimately became the Globe’s first permanent Playwright-in-Residence. His work has been anthologized, translated, produced internationally, and turned into operas. He has never lost his interest in writing for young audiences. He is currently an associate artist with Mixed Company Theatre in Toronto where he has developed new plays for youth, including Diss and Project Youth. His plays Les Miserable Old Guys and Wild Magic were hits at the Winnipeg Fringe.

We are also looking forward to Deverell’s collaboration at the end of the month with IRCOM (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba). Deverell will be working with community youth to adapt his play Diss to a Winnipeg setting. The play is an interactive theatre piece about youth gangs and gun violence. Sarasvàti Productions will produce a Manitoba high school tour of the show  in the fall of 2012. More information on this event (and how you can get involved) available shortly.

Immigration Stories at FemFest

The Director’s View – Hope McIntyre

Today was the first read-through of the new script developed with the Immigrant Women’s Association of Manitoba (IWAM) to be performed at FemFest in September. It was exciting to hear it out loud and to see how everyone responded to the compilation of their stories. There were tears, many moments of recognition and lots of laughter.

One of the joys of the work we do at Sarasvàti Productions is the chance to work with different organizations and such a wide range of people. They all have stories to tell. This particular project was spear-headed by Beatrice Watson of IWAM and funded by New Herizons for Seniors. The goal is to provide senior women immigrants with the opportunity to share their stories, learn theatre skills and to allow youth to learn about their parents’ and grandparents’ immigration to Canada.

Although technically seniors, you would never guess it with the energy and spirit of the group of women who have gathered together over several months to develop the script. They are all inspirations due to both the struggles they have faced and the important roles they have played in the community. They have so much to share it can be a challenge to stay focused. And now several of them will become first time actors, performing alongside experienced actors in the staging of the piece at FemFest.

The team of creator/performers includes Francesca Cotroneo, Barbara Guia, Clara Orallo, Helma Rogge Rehders, Monica Singh, Hien Tran and Beatrice Watson. I’m also pleased to welcome Reanna Joseph as Assistant Director to the project.

We are all excited to jump in to rehearsals in a few weeks. I have no doubt that these women will knock the audiences’ socks off as they are all natural story-tellers!

The full FemFest line-up will be announced on June 15th, so check out the website after that date for full details – www.femfest.ca.