Q&A with Renee Iaci

Renee Iaci is a co-founder and co-artistic director of shameless hussy productions out of Vancouver, British Colombia. Renee is one of the writer/researchers of the hussies original play Sonofabitch Stew: The Drunken Life of Calamity Jane – which is making its Winnipeg debut at this year’s FemFest 2012: Staging Identity. She also alternates in the role with her hussy collaborators Deb Pickman and Daune Campbell and is the original director. Check out the rootin’ tootin’ Calamity Jane at FemFest – for info on how you can get your tickets check out www.femfest.ca


What is one thing every actor needs to know? Stay in the moment – much easier to say than to do!

What does every great story have to have?  I like a story with a beginning, middle and end. Oh yeah, and a female protagonist.

What is your favourite word? Martini?

Complete the sentence: If I wasn’t typing this email interview right now, I would be… Dirt bike riding. I’ve just taken up the sport in the past year and I love it!

The most surprising thing that happened to me was  getting pregnant. Ok, we did plan it but it was still a shock and surprise when it happened. I’m still shocked to think I’m a mother. I just said to my 4.5 year old last week, “I’m your mother, can you believe it?!?

A common misperception of me is…if only I was observant enough to know what the misperceptions were. . .

You know me as an actor but in truer life I’d have been… a boxer. I got into it a little too late in life (33) but I absolutely loved it. If I had started when I was a teen, who knows? I did manage to have one TKO in my amateur career. And oh, how I really wish I could sing. Perhaps that’s everybody’s fantasy but I still dream of being Mary J Blige or Aretha Franklin or some totally cool  kick-ass vocalist who everybody loves. . .

Q&A with Urban Ink

Hailing from Vancouver, British Colombia, urban ink Productions is proud to present Women in Fish. This multi-media production will be featured as part of the incredible line-up for FemFest 2012: Staging Identity. Below is the Q&A we have put together for various artists associated with this year’s festival. Unlike other groups, urban ink decided to respond collectively (as opposed to individual entries). This makes complete sense since the show is truly an example of extraordinary collaboration. The community-feel and impact of the production really resonates with their commitment to community values and storytelling. We are thrilled to have this amazing group of women come to Winnipeg! Rosemary Georgeson and Jane Diston will be joining us the week before FemFest to meet with the community and actor Mary Galloway will be arriving for the performance. For more information on purchasing tickets for FemFest, check out www.femfest.ca. Stay tuned for information on community engagement events and public installations you can be a part of and enjoy!


What is one thing every actor needs to know? How to act.

What does every great story have to have? A laugh.

What is your favourite word? FuckingA…is that 2 words?

Complete the sentence: If I wasn’t typing this email interview right now, I would be …Swimming, its hot today and the ocean is cold and calm.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was …Enlightenment

A common misperception of me is …That I am 35, not 55. ( Rosemary)

You know me as an actor but in truer life I’d have been …A bat out of hell. Meatloafs divine inspiration for the rock!

Q&A with Immigration Stories

Sarasvàti Productions had the incredible opportunity over the past several months to collaborate on a project with the Immigrant Women’s Association of Manitoba (IWAM). Members of IWAM were asked to write their stories of immigration to Canada and to collaborate with our Artistic Director Hope McIntyre to turn their stories into an original play. The result: Immigration Stories – a funny and sensitive portrayal of the triumphs, trials and tribulations of women’s journeys to and in Winnipeg. The best part? Six of the women involved in creating the story will actually be in the play! Yep – these lovely ladies will be playing themselves (and each other’s family members) at FemFest 2012: Staging Identity. For more information about the festival check out www.femfest.ca ! Here is some information on all the fabulous women appearing in Immigration Stories.


Name and Area of Winnipeg you reside:
– Hien Tran, Pembina
– Francesca Cotroneo, St. Vital
– Clara Orallo, St. James
– Helma Rogge Rehders, Winnipeg Beach
– Beatrice Watson, Fort Rouge
– Barbara Guia, West Kildonan
– Reena Shah, Garden City
– Samantha Walters, West Kildonan
* Lynn Langdon, River Heights born, North End presently (added in on July 25, 2012)

In addition to IWAM, what other community groups are you involved in?
– HT: I’ve been a member of the Vietnamese Seniors Association of Manitoba since 1990!
– FC: I am a member of the Winnipeg-Italia community, and a proud member of the Holy Rosary Church.
– CO: I am a classically trained singer and a member of the Harmonic Symphony Choir.
– HRR: I am a practicing visual artist and poet; I am a member of tthe Lake Winnipeg Writers Group, The Winnipeg Beach Art and Culture Co-Op and CARFAC Manitoba.
– BW: I have been a member of LEAF and the Congress of Black Women for years!
– BG: I am a cross-culture counsellor with the Immigration Women’s Counselling Services and focus on domestic violence and other women’s issues. I also set up, coordinated and administered the Settlement Language Program at the Portguese Centre. This is only the beginning! I like to keep busy.
– SW: I have been a member of the Girl Guides of Canada in the past as a leader, camp counsellor and as a girl guide! I also worked for the Manitoba Children’s Museum and for Sarasvàti Productions (of course)

How would you introduce yourself to a stranger?
– HT: We’d be strangers at the beginning, but friends later!
– FC: A Graduate Social Worker from the U of M who worked in psychiatry as a mental health worker and a Cross Cultural Counsellor.
– CO: Hello, I am Clara.
– HRR: I am an artist and performer (print with acrylics), a print maker, entertainer, storyteller and singer.
– BW: I am Beatrice Watson.
– BG: Hi! My name is Barbara, and you are?
– RS: I am a life enthusiast who is passionae about the creation of art. I have a background in film acting – this is actually my first stage performance! I also own Expression Film Studio where I work with very talented young actors all the time who inspire me with their love for acting and their enthusiasm to learn.
– SW: I work part-time as a server so I do this on a nightly basis. “Hi there, my name is Sam!” followed by a big, warm and inviting smile.
* LL: By my real given names (and let her/him find out the rest in conversatio, if it were to go that far.

What do you want audiences to take away after viewing Immigration Stories? What is the most important issue you’d like to see addressed with the performance of the play?
– HT: I want audiences to gain some insight and understanding on immigration issues, and be inspired to support newcomers.
– FC: I hope the audience will get a better understanding of the difficult sacrifices that the first generation of immigrant women gave. I would like the audience to see the difficulties of a teenager trying to adopt to another culture. Often parents are too busy trying to adjust and forget their children also struggle with their feelings.
– CO: I want audiences to see us as role models; immigrants should be telling their stories and passing them down through generations.
– HRR: We are dedicated Canadians no matter where we come from; we are committed to being Canadian.
– BW: That the decision to immigrate is often difficult and immigrants face many challenges. The frustration of wanting a Canadian experience while staying true to your roots can be quite difficult.
– BG: I want the audience to gain an understanding about the hard times newcomers face as they arrive in a new country and the barriers they face in all sectors of life. Be kind to them!
– RS: The myraid of emotions one feels leaving their country and embracing a new one to call home is captivated by the talent of this cast. The chance to work with an all-female cast of such diversity and unique backgrounds is a rare opportunity. Not only are the women powerful on stage, but their stories are profound and moving.
– SW: I love theatre that inspires, creates change and promotes thinking. I hope people leave thinking about the stories they have just heard/seen and realize that those who immigrate to Canada are enduring far more hardships then we could ever know. It’s not as easy as people may think to “get a good life” upon arrival in Canada. Above anything, I would like to know what people get from the stories the women tell in the piece.
* LL: Despite emerging from a lifestyle of disfunction and woundedness, there is still laughter… at oneself, too.

Q&A with Deb Pickman

Deb Pickman is co-founder and an ensemble member of shameless hussy productions, based in Vancouver B.C. Deb is also one of the writer/researchers for the hussies original play Sonfoabitch Stew: The Drunken Life of Calamity Jane, which is coming to Winnipeg this fall during FemFest 2012! She also alternatives in the title role with her hussy colaborators Renee Iaci and Daune Campbell. Sonfofabitch Stew has toured across Western Canada and in the US, and will be visiting the Maritime provinces next year. For more information about FemFest showtimes and ticket info, check out www.femfest.ca. We can’t wait to see you there – wear your best western gear!


What is one thing every actor needs to know?

1. Mine your passion and don’t stop digging – this shaft has no bottom.
2. If there is a fire onstage stop the show and take the rest of the night off.

What does every great story have to have?

A woman who’s kicking someone’s ass – even if it’s her own. Maybe even especially if it’s her own.

What is your favourite word?

At the risk of soundimng like a stereotypical feminista – I admit, I love to talk about the etymology of the word cunt, I confess. It’s still a very misunderstood word even with all the feminist gyrations of the last 50 years, it’s like the ugly duckling of words. It’s not a word I use frequently, though I co-authored a play called The Happy Cunt to get it out of my system.

For a well used and loved word I’d go for “heart.” All we need is love.

Complete the sentence: If I wasn’t typing this email interview right now, I would be …in my garden. Don’t tell anyone but I’m a flower freak and I’d love nothing better than to show you photos of my 10ft tall Himilayan lillies. Serious.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was… Ever? Well, most recently it was that my husband had a stroke January 2011 – and couldn’t say my name for a bit, couldn’t read aloud, forgot his provinces, our phone number and a multitude of other important things. That was a shocker. His recovery has been exciting and funny and brave – really the most fun anyone could have recovering from a stroke. You wouldn’t be able to tell anything had happened today – he’s back at work. I’m very glad I got to experience it with him, not glad it happened – but our lives have changed for the better.

Most shocking ever? Hunh, maybe that was it – the stroke was bigger than the fire I had onstage once in SanFrancisco while performing in our play that we’re bringing to FemFest. Our fogger burst into flames but it was just behind the curtain & the cabaret audience couldn’t see it, thought it was just bad bad fog. Being the Fringe in San Fran there was no backstage crew at all. I yelled “Fire, fire” and “Bring me some water from behind the bar there goddamit!!” In retrospect I should have dropped the western accent, again – they thought it was just part of the show. In the end I grabbed a drink off someones table, put the fire out and continued with the show. If it happened again I would stop the show, this was not my best work, I was a bit rattled and for the first and only time dropped two or three scenes from the play and it didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense frankly.

A common misperception of me is… I’m extroverted. Secretly I’m shy, but I’m shy about it so I keep it carefully hidden. Also some people think I’m sexy or a very sexual person. I mean really? I’m a late bloomer in the sex department… still trying to understand it. My sexuality is more of a fashion statement than a way of being. See, I’m just this secretly shy person.

You know me as an actor but in truer life I’d have been… I dreamed of being a June Taylor Dancer, however I have a sense of rythym that isn’t shared by many people, maybe nobody. I was also aching to be a singer – in the mold of Dionne Warwick or Aretha Franklin – but my music teacher was always telling me to “quiet down” and even my super supportive  mom would ask me “where does it hurt?” when I burst into song.  Could these two weaknesses be related? I do take pride in marching to my own tune. In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t get to be a dancer, it’s pretty hard to keep going in your senior years. As an actor – you’ve got a job as long as you’re able to draw breath and communicate something people need to know or feel.

Q & A with Marcia Johnson

Marcia Johnson is a playwright, teacher and actor living in Toronto. Originally from Jamaica, Marcia has a passion for theatre and aims to have her audiences see themselves in her work. Marcia will be participating in FemFest’s Bake Off – a special initiative where writers are given “ingredients” for a play and just two weeks to whip up their “recipe!” The plays will be read at FemFest 2012: Staging Identity and audiences will get to vote for the tastiest treat! Bake Off will take place on Monday, September 17th at 7pm at the University of Winnipeg’s Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.

As well, Marcia will be doing a special reading of her works the following day, Tuesday, September 18th, at the new Aqua Books (123 Princess Street) at 12pm. Bring your lunch and hear from a wonderful selection of works. This presentation is brought to you by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Playwrights Guild of Canada.


What is one thing every actor needs to know? Your agent can’t do all the work for you.

What does every great story have to have? Conflict.

What is your favourite word? Endeavour.

If I could grant you a single wish, what would it be? More patience.

Complete the sentence:  If I wasn’t typing this email interview right now, I would be cleaning my kitchen.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was being paid to act and write.

A common misperception of me is that I’ve got it all figured out.

You know me as an actor but in truer life I’d have been a romance novelist.

Check out all the festival has to offer at www.femfest.ca!

Q&A with Talia Pura

From Stonewall, Manitoba, Talia Pura writes from a place of compassion, interest and intrigue. Talia is an active member of Canadian Women 4 Women in Afghanistan, from which this piece is inspired. During FemFest 2012: Staging Identity, Pura will be workshopping her latest original play, Cry After Midnight. This powerful story takes place in Afghanistan, and tells the incredible story of three women from different walks of life, and how their lives intersect in a war-torn country. A must see for the festival! Join us for the workshop presentation on September 15 at 3pm.


What is one thing every actor needs to know?  How to find a way of identifing with the character she is playing.

What does every great story have to have?  Great characters that you care about.

What is your favourite word?   Ameliorate; I like the way it sounds.

If I could grant you a single wish, what would it be?  To have a major theatre present a full run of one of my plays.

Complete the sentence: 

If I wasn’t typing this email interview right now, I would be…  doing a re-write of another play!

The most surprising thing that happened to me was…  having my three children actually grown up  and leave home!

A common misperception of me is…  that I am 5 feet, 8 inches tall.

You know me as an actor but in truer life I’d have been…  a ballerina first, then an actor.

Q&A with Johanna Nutter

Today marks the beginning of a series of exclusive interviews with actors, directors and artists from Sarasvàti Productions’ FemFest 2012: Staging Identity. It will be an exciting opportunity for our audience to get to know the stories and voices behind the festival shows. For more information about this year’s line up of FemFest programming, check out www.femfest.ca. We look forward to sharing information from more of our artists and to your responses!


Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Johanna Nutter is the writer and star of her one-woman hit, My Pregnant Brother. The true story of Johanna’s life growing up in Montreal with a hippie mom and her younger sister (who was to become her brother). Although the facts of the story are stranger than fiction, ultimately, this is a universal tale of love and survival, told with mesmerizing honesty and humour. The show will be performed at FemFest in both English and French!

What is one thing every actor needs to know? FLOSS.

What does every great story have to have? A change of heart.

 What is your favourite word? Wonderful.

 If I could grant you a single wish, what would it be? Introduce me to the love of my life.

Complete the sentence:

If I wasn’t typing this email interview right now, I would be… Walking up the mountain.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was… My Pregnant Brother.

A common misperception of me is… That I am politically correct. That I am political. That I am correct.

You know me as an actor but in truer life I’d have been… I’ve been a farmer, a factory worker, a waitress, a dj, a horse-drawn carriage driver, a clown, a new york city tour guide, a grade one teacher, a producer of radio shows in Africa, a bartender, a costume designer, an award-winning pie-maker, a poet, a translator, an actor, and now a writer-performer. These are all part of my true life.

Launching Identity

Sarasvàti Productions is excited to announce our upcoming Season Launch, Launching Identity, taking place next week!

We are inviting the media and community members for an exclusive peak at what Sarasvàti has to offer for the 2012-2013 season. The launch takes place on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 10am at the University of Winnipeg’s Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Hear more about some of Sarasvàti’s unique and exhilerating programming, including:

FemFest 2012: Staging Identity (our 10th annual festival of plays by women for everyone).

– High school touring productions of Empty and Diss.

-The world premiere of Jail Baby, an original in-house production centering around women in the justice system.

For more information about these and other Sarasvàti events throughout the 2012-2013 season, check out www.sarasvati.ca or come on down to the launch! We cannot wait to see you there! Bring a friend!