Who’s Got The Power?

How many different ways is power represented in our everyday lives? And what special connotations does the word power hold for women? Sarasvàti Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre explains why ‘She’s Got The Power’ was chosen as this year’s FemFest theme. Read on for teasers about the productions that will bring the theme to life.


Hope&Patrick at Villains&VixensOver the twelve years of FemFest one thing has become clear, the festival is empowering. We set out to provide showcasing opportunities to female playwrights but it has become much more than that. It’s an event that gives voice to artists, to community groups and to issues that are usually left behind closed doors. When we selected ‘She’s Got the Power’ as this year’s theme, it led to very interesting conversations about what power means. We knew immediately we weren’t talking about the power of the fist, an image that often pops up as if synonymous with strength. The power we wanted to explore was much more than physical. It is the power to look at the truth, to speak the pain and beauty of life and ultimately the power that comes from being open to sharing one’s story. The female artists we are showcasing this year have shown great strength. They’ve been empowered, healed and found their identities by facing the past, their fears and the ridiculousness of life. In turn the audience will also be empowered as they are transformed by seeing a new perspective, which may in turn educate them or reassure them that they are not alone. The power of the work is that it can inspire audiences to speak out in the same way that the artists have. Plus there is amazing power in the coming together of people, as a community, to share an experience, share laughter, share a journey…

In the beautiful new script by Rebecca Gibson, The Naked Woman, that I have the joy of directing,lightning bolt Helen asks “What is more powerful than a naked woman?” Unfortunately the female body has been objectified and used to make woman feel weak, but metaphorically Helen is right – what is more powerful than someone confidently standing there completely open, without fear, shame or hesitation? All the woman featured this year in FemFest do exactly that. Michaela Di Cesare pursues the truth about her heritage in order to be able to move forward; Tara Travis turns to the paranormal to find the answers she needs and a damn good brownie recipe; Rubena Sinha uses art to deal with the trauma of both her daughter’s sexual assault and her husband’s death; and in the world premiere of Launched Tyler White asks the question is it ever too late to follow your dreams. Plus the cabaret evenings will offer some rockin’ and powerful female artists!

Of course the audience is such an important part of the equation. You truly have the power. Let’s send a clear message that women’s stories, women’s empowerment and great art are valuable.

For more information about FemFest 2014: She’s Got The Power, visit our website www.femfest.ca and make sure to purchase tickets for the shows that interest you!


Cast of FemFest Production, Launched Announced!

What kind of relationship do you have with your siblings? Do they drive you insane? Do you think of them as your best friend—the person in this world that knows you best? Or is your relationship with your sibling best characterized as somewhere in between—a middle ground of madness.

FemFest production Launched by emerging female playwright, Tyler White, will take you inside the volatility, anger and love that is the sibling relationship. More specifically it explores siblings who have not really launched from their mother’s nest despite being in their forties. Today, we are excited to announce the cast of Launched who will be responsible for adding a little salt and pepper (literally) to the drama that demonstrates it’s never too late to start again. Read on to learn more about the cast of this humour-filled FemFest production that will have its audience members running home and hugging their families!


Taesia ScratchFeaturing Taesia Scratch as Cathy


Taesia arrived in Friendly Winnipeg two years ago from Ottawa with her husband and four children. Originally from Vancouver, she completed studies with William Davis studying all aspects of acting. Having completed school she went on to Canadian television, film and theatre festivals. She is happiest when she is doing any kind of training, and is very thankful to be part of this project.

Fun Facts:

1. If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you love to do? Theatre only. Film too, but theatre. I have four children, I love parks with them.

2. What is the last book that you read? Currently, Gulp, by Mary Roach, others, just plays.

3. What superhero would you be if you could? Or what superpower do you wish you could have? Excellent question. Hulk smash.


Cheryl GensiorekFeaturing Cheryl Gensiorek as Julia


Cheryl is thrilled to be a part of FemFest and to be cast in Launched.   Cheryl enjoys both film and theatre and is always seeking that next challenge and opportunity to grow as an actor. Her experiences with Sarasvàti have been as a performer in the staged reading of Empty, part of a winning team of So You Think You Can Act, a performer for Cabaret of Monologues and part of the shorts for last year’s FemFest.   Cheryl has appeared in the Fringe (Run Ragged Company) and The Sondheim Festival (Resonator Theatrical).

Fun Facts:

1. If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you love to do? Tough question, once you find something that you are passionate about, nothing compares.

2. What is the last book that you read? Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

3. What superhero would you be if you could? Or what superpower do you wish you had?  I wish I could go back in time and relive some of it, knowing what I know now.


Lyle MorrisFeaturing Lyle Morris as Bobby


Lyle is excited to be a part of FemFest for the first time in Launched by Tyler White! As of this writing he is in Union Station Theatre’s Shadow Spaces (Venue 11!) in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Between the Fringe and FemFest Lyle is fortunate enough to join the amazing cast for the film Intersection written by Allan Turner. Busy summer! Most of Lyle’s experience is in the indie film genre but he is enjoying being back on stage and looking forward to participating in FemFest this year.

Fun Facts:

1. If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you love to do? Work in film. Easy answer.

2. What is the last book that you read? A Complicated Kindness.

3. What superhero would you be if you could? Or what superpower do you wish you had? Apparently Spiderman is cooler – but I’ve always wanted to be Superman. The strength thing… If I couldn’t do that – I think I’d love to be invisible.

4. Anything else you’d like to add: I’m pumped to be a part of Launched. Can’t wait!


You don’t want to miss out on the world premiere of Launched, so get your tickets now! And if you have some unique salt and pepper shakers that you would love to see on stage contact us at info@sarasvati.ca .

Cast Announced for The Naked Woman!

The Naked Woman, by local playwright, Rebecca Gibson, wasn’t the easiest FemFest production to cast. It takes an extremely dedicated and daring female artist to fit with a character who’s described as an almost naked 84 year-old. We are pleased to announce that we have found the perfect actress to take on this ambitious role and the perfect actor to work alongside her.

Fefu (2)

Nan Fewchuk in Fefu and Her Friends

Nan Fewchuk, who played Paula in our recent production of Fefu and Her Friends, will step into the non-existent pants of The Naked Woman’s lead character, Helen Schumer. And Grant Burr will play Dennis Rosner, Helen’s deceased husband’s trusted lawyer.


Grant Burr in Flood Control

Now that the cast of this wonderfully bizarre, humorous play is known. You will have to come see The Naked Woman at FemFest to learn how we’ve decided to transform Nan into a naked 84 year old.

Read on for a behind the scenes glimpse at our two performers and make sure to visit www.femfest.ca to reserve your tickets for what is sure to be a popular FemFest production!

Nan Headshot 1

Featuring Nan Fewchuk as Helen


Nan is terrified to be 84 and as naked as she’ll ever be on stage! Recently, Nan played Paula in Fefu and Her Friends, and she is currently performing in Quo Vadis at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Last year Nan assistant directed, Jail Baby, and produced and played Rozetta Stone in the Winnipeg Fringe Hit, Dog Act. Select credits include Peter Pan, Beauty and The Beast (Rainbow Stage), The Merry Wives of Windsor (SIR), Magpie, Fen (Sarasvàti), Or,, Eleemosynary and A Phoenix Too Frequent (Winnipeg Fringe). Nan is grateful to be doing what she loves, and thanks her family and friends.

Fun Facts:

1. If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you love to do?
Wow…I can’t think of anything I love more.

2. What is the last book that you read?
Joni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell by Katherine Monk

3. What superhero would you be if you could? Or what superpower do you wish you had?
Maya Angelou reincarnated

4. Anything else you’d like to add:
I like my wings “Naked”.


Grant Burr

 Featuring Grant Burr as Dennis


Grant Burr is excited to again be a part of FemFest, this time in the premiere of The Naked Woman by Rebecca Gibson. The University of Winnipeg honours acting program graduate performed in Flood Control at last year’s festival. Burr is currently appearing at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in Union Station Theatre’s production of Shadow Spaces. Selected credits include The Cherry Orchard (Theatre by the River and Little Echo Theatre), Celebration (UWTSA), and The Dog It Was That Died (Dimestore Watch Theatre Works). He has appeared previously at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in Hands On (2006) and Thom Pain (2013).

Fun Facts:

1. If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you love to do?
I would love to travel the world.

2. What is the last book that you read?
I just read Dr Suess at bedtime tonight!

3. What superhero would you be if you could?
Or what superpower do you wish you. I always love flying in my dreams. Give me some wings!

Inspirational, Heartwarming, Tragic—A FemFest production not to be missed

River is one of the more emotionally compelling stories at this year’s FemFest. We are honoured that River playwright, Rubena Sinha was willing to share the story behind the tragic yet heartwarming journey that inspired her writing process.


Rubena Sinha

I am thrilled and honoured to be invited to share River at FemFest 2014 with musician and dear friend, Phoebe Man.

One day my daughter came home and said, Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson are collecting stories for the third volume of their anthology Dropped Threads, and would I like to write something for it?

At that time my husband was very ill. We had him at home, and I was with him all the time. That’s when I started thinking…so many years I have lived in Canada…I asked myself, what hashappened to me through this life?

I was very young when I came here, leaving my parents behind was a tremendous shock. I had to learn a new language, how to walk in the snow and most importantly, be independent in a way I had never been before. It was the first time I realized what freedom really means.

I found a home in the dance community in Winnipeg. Through them I was able to express my trueself; dance doesn’t need words. I also learned that no matter how far from your family you are, you bring something of them in you. That something was courage.

I didn’t know then how much I would need that courage later in my life. As I thought about my story, I realized how much courage I had drawn from…to live through the loss of my parents, my daughter’s rape and the suffering it brought my family and, how at that very moment, I was facing the loss of my husband.

That was six years ago. This piece, River, is the story of a search.

To find ourselves, we had to search within ourselves; and I found comfort and wisdom in the stories that came from the Mahabharata, from folklore… and my grandmother. River is also drawn from love. When death came we had to let him go, but in that letting go, we found strength in taking care of each other and in how much we loved him. Though River is the story of my journey, it is mine only in the details. It belongs to you in every way, as together we look for meaning where sometimes there is none, and face the things we all have to one day.

I can’t say I have found peace, but I can say I believe in it. I offer you River, with love.

Phoebe Man

Phoebe Man

River was developed with the assistance of the OAC’s word of Mouth grant and was presented at the Toronto Festival of Storytelling in 2009 and the Carol Shields Symposium in Winnipeg last year.

You can catch River at FemFest on September 16th at 7 PM, September 18th at 2:30 PM and September 20th at 3 PM. Book your tickets now: www.femfest.ca


Who knew you could be conceived 8 different ways!

We are excited to welcome Michaela Di Cesare to FemFest this year! She completed her Master’s Degree at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and is a recipient of a MECCA award for Best Text (along with a Best Actress and Revelation nomination) and the Launchpad Award for Emerging Artists. She is a celebrated performer as well as having been recognized for her writing. We asked her to talk about the show for our blog readers!


8 Ways my Mother was Conceived has been a journey unlike any other in my life. This little show has taken me places (both geographically and artistically) that I would not have imagined when I first began to write it. Like many other stories of self-8 Waysdiscovery, the embryo for this particular play was fertilized in a moment of crisis. At a time when everything I thought I believed and everything I believed defined me as a young woman was challenged, I locked myself in my room and wrote the first draft of 8 Ways in 2 weeks. That draft was terrible, but necessary—much like the pain I was going through at the time. You see, the event I believed to be a crisis at the time was that my first (“and better-be-last”) boyfriend had proposed marriage and then took it back. This is something that does not go over lightly in a family of Italian immigrants.

Here is a synopsis of the play:

In order to cure herself of the Virgin Complex sabotaging her love life, a young woman must face her eccentric Italian family and disprove their belief that her mother was conceived à la Jesus Christ (sans sex). Her quest for the truth takes her from the gynecologist’s office, to a clairvoyant, to her estranged and mysterious great-grandmother in Southern Italy.

Promo2I have toured this show for over 3 years now and each time the show travels, I can feel it evolving and I can feel myself maturing. At first, I felt a certain shame in performing the show. I found myself using judgmental words like “ranting” and “complaining” to describe my actions as the protagonist. I performed with an assumption that no one but myself cared about the subject matter of the show. That was my show in its adolescent stage. Ironically, an adolescent girl changed my outlook. I had been invited to perform at a Woman’s Day event and among the invited guests were young women from a local women’s shelter for refugees. When I found out, I went into a panic worrying that these women would interpret my comical show as “a privileged rant” compared to the real injustices they had been through. After my performance, a 16-year-old Afghan girl came up to me and thanked me for “talking about the things [her] community doesn’t feel comfortable talking about yet.” That conversation forced me to take myself more seriously and allowed the show to mature. The last run of 8 Ways prior to FemFest was a special run for high schools in the neighborhood I grew up in. It felt like coming home again, familiar yet grown up. I had many interesting discussions with the youth in my talkback session. The action words I use now are more along the lines of “exploring”, “healing” and “growing.”

I look forward to the exploration, healing and growth that will undoubtedly occur when 8 Ways comes to Winnipeg.