Behind the Scenes of Fefu: Meet the Directors!

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This spring challenge your preconceptions of life with Fefu and Her Friends! With all the snow, icy roads, and extra driving time added to our days, it’s hard to imagine what spring will look like. One thing we know for sure is that our directors are doing a fantastic job realizing their exciting vision for a truly unique show. Today, we wanted to introduce you to two fabulous members of our creative team. Our very own Artistic Director Hope McIntyre will be directing Fefu and Her Friends. We are also pleased to welcome Rachel Smith on board as Assistant Director. As a new director in Winnipeg, Rachel will be working closely with Hope as part of our on-going mentorship program and desire to provide emerging artists with professional opportunities. Keep reading to find out more.

myphotoHope McIntyre – Director

Hope McIntyre has a BFA (University of Saskatchewan) and an MFA in directing (University of Victoria). She also completed an apprenticeship in England. Hope is in her fourteenth year as Artistic Director of Sarasvàti Productions. She is a published playwright, and has received awards and productions for her scripts across Canada, the U.S., and Australia. Jail Baby (co-written with Cairn Moore) premiered in May 2013 and has been published by Scirocco Drama. EDEN premiered in May 2012 and Empty premiered at FemFest 2012. Her directing credits include:  Grace and After (Alumnae Theatre), Drama At Inish (Toronto Irish Players), A Streetcar Named Desire (Rubber Gun Productions), Risk Everything and Problem Child (venus.calm), Revisioning (Short Pencil Productions), Bush-Ladies (Theatre by the River), Vinegar Tom and Ghost Sonata (University of Winnipeg) and dozens of productions for Sarasvàti Productions. In 2006 Hope was awarded the YWCA Women of Distinction Award and in 2008 won the Bra D’Or Award for supporting women playwrights through her work on FemFest. She currently teaches at the University of Winnipeg and has previously taught at Mount Allison University, Brandon University and University of Manitoba. She is a former President of the Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Why did you choose Fefu and Her Friends? Why are you producing it now?
I first encountered this play and the fabulous Maria Irene Fornes while doing my undergrad years ago. I was immediately drawn to her writing. I wanted to direct Fefu for my masters thesis back in 1996 but the committee felt it was too dated. I think in fact they did not have anyone with the knowledge of the style able to properly oversee the production as an advisor. It is a complex and layered text presented in a unique style and form. I’ve waited for a time when I felt ready as an artist to tackle the piece and for Sarasvàti to have the capacity to contract the seasoned actors we would require. Hiring eight women to perform the piece is a budget challenge but also an amazing chance to see some of Winnipeg’s strongest female performers on stage. I also feel that the themes of oppression and the exploration of how we attempt to repress our own feeling of discomfort echo much of what is happening in the world today. We do not have to look too far for examples of how figures of authority continue to dictate our behaviour and what is or is not appropriate. I am very excited to finally be working on a show that I started researching almost twenty years ago!

Rachel Elizabeth Smith - HeadshotRachel Smith – Assistant Director

Rachel Smith has just returned to Winnipeg after completing her MA in Theatre and Performance at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. She is a former student of the University of Winnipeg, having completed a BA Honours in Theatre and Film. This is her second time Assistant Directing, having previously worked on Way to Heaven at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre. Rachel is very excited to be working on Fefu and Her Friends.

What excites you the most about this project?
What most excites me about working on Fefu and Her Friends is that it is a site specific performance. I have recently done a fair amount research surrounding site specific work and am very excited to have been given the opportunity to be involved with one.

In addition to the setting of the performance, I am looking forward the second act of the play. During Act Two, there will be four scenes taking place at the same time in different rooms of the house. This is a unique and challenging aspect of the play that I am eager to contribute to and learn from.

Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes will run from May 22nd – June 1st, 2014 at Ralph Connor House (University Women’s Club of Winnipeg, 54 West Gate). Stay tuned as we announce our cast and members of our production team over the next few weeks!

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