urban ink are lookin’ for fish!

Women in Fish will be making its Winnipeg debut at FemFest 2012 this September. Outside of the festival line-up, there are many other opportunities for you, your grandmother, your friends, and anyone else you might know to meet with the amazing cast and crew behind Women in Fish and to learn more about women’s contributions to land-based industries.

September 12 @ 7pm (Asper Centre for Theatre and Film – 400 Colony Street) – A community gathering with a historical focus; discussions will centre on women’s participation and contributions to Manitoba land-based industries.

September 13 @ 7pm (Ma Mawi Wi Chi Ita Centre – 363 McGregor Avenue) – A community gathering with an Aboriginal focus; discussing the issues of Aboriginal women as they relate to traditional teachings and ways of life.

September 16 @ 12:30pm (Indian and Metis Friendship Centre – 45 Robinson Street) – a special screening of the Women in Fish documentary with a Q&A to follow facilitated by Rosemary Georgeson. Free admission.

September 18 @ 7pm (Asper Centre for Theatre and Film – 400 Colony Street) – full performance with actor Mary Galloway at FemFest 2012! Tickets $10.


July 1, 2011. Women in Fish on tour in Tonfino and Uculette, two gorgeous fishing towns on the coast of Vancouver Island.

Our performance space for the show is a gorgeous little 100 seat venue in the Kwisitis Pacific Rim provincial park.  The park Rangers won’t let our presenter: Pacific Rim Arts festival supply the fish we need to have on stage… ( what with the bears, campers and all). We have to take it upon ourselves to scour the local docks to find some fish….after a night of smiling at the fishermen and swapping stories, Rose is able to grab two rock fish. Rock Fish have this horrible tongue that pop out. Very, very ugly fish. Mary, the performer refuses to touch the fish.  Park Rangers, presenter and performer be damned…we will have fish!!

Rose makes a deal. She will fillet the fish and it will look like any other fish…Then all involved will cook that said fish, and we will EAT! Let there be FISH….

Watch Rosie G make filets in Uclulet in “Mad Fishy Love”. Photos by Diane Roberts. Music by the Queen of Soul! Special thanks to Ben the fish…! (I feel a sequel coming on…)

Helma Rogge Rehders Shares Her Stories

Immigration Stories

Where do I start? I will describe my surroundings. My fine art painting studio is over looking a deep green summer landscape. The temperature reads 28 celsius inside. The fan is cranked on faster.

Ha, I know it is much more comfortable outside under the huge oak shade and a good breeze coming off the lake, Lake Winnipeg.

We are now into serious rehearsing our script for the Immigration Stories vignettes. From January when we got together to tell our stories and Hope was listening we as a group of novices have come a long way. She is fantastic the things she had made us do to learn to mime. And mime so that the audience would get what we were trying to show. Then on we went to develop our script, that was homework, real homework for all of us. I for one needed to be reminded that this is to be a final production for the FemFest in September in a real theatre with a paying audience. Perhaps I was hoping that it was just a little thingy. But no. I am seeing the production coming together and the characters come to life.

I loved the moment I chose to act out in our winter scene ‘making snowangels’ what fun I had rolling into the snow and patting my arms up and down to make the snow angel. Fancy, I couldn’t even remember when I last lay in the snow to make an angel. And there I was practicing in the rehearsal studio with so much glee we all threw the make believe snowballs at each other. I even snow washed, if that what you call it, my dear fellow woman actor’s face. Giggling good naturely.

I am so happy to be part of this theatre production. Not just for the fame lol but the cameraderie and bonding with the immigrant women and the professional actors I have met. I also believe it has put a real spring into my step. Enough for now because I have to learn my lines.

Well, I have good intentions to do that.

Greetings to all —

Your colleague in creative synergy,


Immigration Stories runs September 20 & 22 at 7pm more info at www.femfest.ca .

One Director’s Perspective on Directing New Writing

Kendra Jones will be directing a number of Shorts that will be read throughout the festival. These are exciting excerpts from the festival short-list that we just weren’t able to fit into FemFest but wanted to introduce to our audiences. To find out the schedule for the Shorts click here.


Directing is one of the most challenging jobs in theatre; it is our job to ensure that the message of the play is understood and shared by the artistic team, that the actors, designers, etc have what they need, and most importantly, that we communicate all of this to the audience. The approach each director has differs, and I know from my experience, the type of play I am working on will determine exactly how I go about bringing it to life for the audience.

With new writing, one of my foremost concerns is ensuring that my directorial voice does not overshadow the voice of the writer. In these instances, the director’s job is to help the writer’s story shine – to show it off, so to speak, and allow the text to work for the audience on its own terms, and not as a result of imposition from the director in terms of style. For a project like the Shorts, where I have to select a brief portion of a longer work to share, my main goal is to showcase the tone, style, and skill of the larger work, while keeping within time limitations, and ensuring that nothing I’m selecting is going to be clunky or awkward in a staged-reading situation. Some things just don’t work properly with the text in hand!

Read more!

In Depth: Empty with Nan Fewchuk

We are pleased to welcome guest blogger Nan Fewchuk who is directing Empty at FemFest 2012. To learn more about how you can get your tickets to Empty and other shows, visit www.femfest.ca.


Empty, written by Hope McIntyre, is a thought provoking work which takes us inside a Winnipeg foodbank and further, inside the lives of its users. McIntyre penned the play after volunteering at one of the food banks here in Winnipeg, and interviewing several of the regular clientele. Their stories reflect their real life situations. Theirs is a life empty of more than stomachs and cupboards, and hearing their voices helps to bring a better understanding of why these characters are at a place where “everybody knows their names.” The answers may not be what you were expecting.

When Hope first asked me if I was interested in helping her facilitate some drama workshops for food bank clients at the First Unitarian Universal Church, I was thrilled, but I admit I felt a wee bit embarrassed. Although I had been volunteering with Siloam Mission at the time, it occurred to me that I had never stepped foot into a food bank and knew very little about how they operated or who used them. That soon changed for me after spending time not only volunteering, but being invited to sit in on the reading of the play by the clients themselves, each playing the character Hope created for them based on their true life stories. What a treat! Moving, funny, and painfully truthful, I was enlightened. So, when later asked if I would be interested in directing the play as a workshop presentation for the community and Winnipeg Harvest, it was a no brainer.Now a year later, I am honoured to be directing this important work for FemFest and am thrilled that we will be touring schools this fall.

The play tackles tough issues honestly and with humour. It helps educate the audience member who may be holding negative, stereotypical perceptions of who these people are, and sheds light on the different perspectives of the food bank community. Questions are raised not only from the outside, but also amongst the users themselves who confront each other about their own biases.

Sadly, there are 58,000 people using a food bank in Manitoba each month, and 1 in 5 of those are children.  As a society and community of caregivers, it is our responsibility to learn more about the situation, and Empty is up for the challenge. With a stellar cast featuring Winnipeg’s own Sylvia Kuzyk, this journey will leave you feeling far from empty.

A History Lesson from Urban Ink

In the beginning there were stories and like all surviving stories this one begins with a storm. On September 7, 1962, the fishing packer The Loretta B keeled under a violent westerly blow submerging five men and one woman to the dark sea.

The sinking of the Loretta B joins a long legacy of fishing tragedies that have ended in the drowning of men and women but in this one Eileen Lorenz, on the eve of her 18th birthday was a survivor. After being tied to fish crates by her husband and fellow crewmate, Eileen was set afloat, as one by one, four men including her husband and brother surrendered to the ocean, their bodies never to be found. After six hours in the eye of the dark storm, Eileen Lorenz was plucked from the water to bring in this new day one year older and eight months pregnant.

Women in Fish weaves this tragedy together with the bigger tragedy of the worlds fishing industry. This story reveals women’s contributions to what was once a top industry. Little is known about the strong role women played in this industry, from waiting on shore to owning and operating their own vessels, as cannery workers and raising their children on the boats.


Sarasvàti Productions is proud to be bringing urban ink and Women in Fish to FemFest 2012 this fall. The full production of this multi-media production will take place on September 18th at 7pmWoman In Fish aims to bring communities together through storytelling, dramatic performance, showcasing historical artefacts, and through discussion of women’s impact on our local industry. As a result we are particularly excited to include several community outreach opportunities as part of Women in Fish. Artist and facilitator Rosemary Georgeson will be in town from September 12-19 to meet with community members and host a gathering for aboriginal women. Rosemary is a First Nations woman from Galiano Island and urban ink’s aboriginal community director. A community presentation of the documentary film will also take place on Sunday, September 16 at 12:30pm at the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre (45 Robinson Street). As well, an installation is on display at the Millennium Library (on the main floor, across from the reference desk), which showcases the history of women in Manitoba and their impact/involvement in land-based industries.

For more information about FemFest 2012 and the many special events taking place, visit www.femfest.ca

And Now a Word from Johanna Nutter…

This piece was originally written for the Charlebois Post – a Montreal based English-language theatre blog. Johanna Nutter will be performing her smash hit, My Pregnant Brother, at FemFest 2012: Staging Identity in September. For more information on showtimes and tickets, check out www.femfest.ca


I think there’s a point where fear gets so intense that it sort of blows itself up. Once this happens, all that’s left to do is step boldly from one moment to the next. I’m there right now. I just checked the bag containing my little white rocking chair and am now tangoing my way to British Columbia for the west coast première of My Pregnant Brother. For those of you who haven’t seen the show, it’s a solo piece in which I relive the experiences surrounding the birth of my niece. My brother (née my sister, transgender for over a decade, still in possession of reproductive parts) got pregnant and needed me at a time when I was trying to change my own identity by shrugging off the overblown sense of responsibility my childhood had helped to contrive. Of course, hilarity ensues…The show’s doing well. It’s won some awards, toured a bit.

In November, the French incarnation (translated by yours truly) will open at La Licorne, granting a longtime wish of mine to act en français. But the most beautifullest part of that is that they have asked me to also present the show in its original English language on Friday nights. This will be a fledgling attempt to bridge the two theatrical solitudes and I want to help it fly. Hence this blog: for the next week or so, I will be posting regular updates on the whole West Coast Experience.

What makes this experience blog-worthy is the fact that the two main characters in the play (outside of yours truly); my mother and brother, will be introduced to it for the first time. Up to now, all they have had to go on are the reviews, which have often resorted to over-simplifications, no doubt in the interest of keeping the word count within a prescribed ballpark. Calling my mother a “spaced-out hippie” gives the reader an easy image, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to describing the kaleidoscope of states she is capable of. But that’s what us writers have to do sometimes; generalize to save time and space—the great thing about blogging is; we can go on and on and if you run out of time, you can just stop reading.

But yes, it’s been just over two years since I first stood in front of an audience and said, “My name is Johanna and I’m going to tell you my story” and Mum and James have been very patient. They’ve managed to keep their fears on the back porch and have been cautiously supportive of every run. But, well, we’re a sensitive bunch of Nutters and it’s safe to say that my family has always been dependably unpredictable. And it’s not only their reactions that have propelled me to this place beyond fear; I wonder also how I am going to be able to become my mother and brother when they are sitting right there in the audience? Actually, that’s kind of a fascinating question…Perhaps, what lies beyond fear is curiosity. Stay tuned…
Check out the continuing saga of Johanna’s journey to B.C. on the Charlebois Post.

FemFest Cabarets Deliver the Goods!

FemFest annually produces the best and brightest in female talent each year in Winnipeg. Although the festival’s mandate is to produce plays by women, we realized a few years ago that many women theatre artists were also working in other mediums. In order to showcase cross-discipline work we started including cabaret evenings as book ends to the festival. The ideas was so succesful that we expanded to invite even more women working in a broader range of mediums. Now our popular cabarets feature a unique smorgasbord of musicians, dancers, visual arts and everything in between and outside of the ordinary! We are thrilled to once again feature an array of local favourites for our 10th anniversary festival.

And now, presenting the FemFest 2012: Staging Identity Cabaret Line-up’s!

Opening Night – Saturday, September 15 – hosted by Susan Tymofichuk

Mad Young Darlings

Closing Night – Saturday, September 22 – hosted by Chrissy Troy

Prairie Caravan Tribal Bellydance

Both evenings will be followed by a reception with great food and a chance to meet the artists. For more information on getting your tickets for these amazing nights of exquisite talent, check out www.femfest.ca!