The Bake-Off is a Pressure Cooker!

Ever wonder what 8 hours to write a piece for stage might look like. How will this year’s playwrights include the ingredients of ballroom dancing, dress up and teaching in their 10-minute scripts? Here are just some of this year’s Bake-Off artists’ experience!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Terrie in car (3)Terrie home (3)Terrie left the meeting and was chauffeured by her husband back to Portage La Prairie so she could write on her laptop in the car. Here’s an overview in her own words:

The first photo was taken at 10:57 a.m. on the way out of the city in the rain. Second photo, 12:10 p.m. at home at my desk. Now to really get to work.

2:07 p.m. Paused for a bowl of beet borscht, hummus on rice crackers, and a pear. And tea with honey.

Now back to it. Thinking of hanging a sign on my door: “Playwright at Work. Anyone who interrupts will be subjected to a grisly and unnatural stage death and then reincarnated as a stage manager.”

5:00 p.m. I have a script. I don’t much like it. I’m going for a nap. Hopefully I’ll dream something brilliant to fix it with when I get up.

6:06. I’m up. I didn’t get any brilliant ideas for the script, but I did finally recall the last name of the young lady I saw on my way out of the theatre this morning who went to high school with my son.

Tick Tock.

You can also check out Terrie’s blog with an entry about being accepted in to the Bake-Off –


Carolyn Creed

Looking pretty relaxed a couple of hours in to the writing binge!


Today I participated in Sarasvàti’s FemFest Bake-Off. We were given 8 hours of time, and three specific elements to incorporate in to a short play. The elements were: dress-up, teaching, and ballroom dancing. We started at 10AM and finished at 7PM, and here’s a series of instagrammed pics that fairly accurately summarize my day if you add about 50 cups of coffee and numerous breaks to check up on important news on Twitter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1. On the theme of dress-up, this is how I look when people see me: cute romper, horizontal stripes that say “I’m not ashamed of my body”, and bold lipstick. I went to school in New York and learned a lot about developing your own identity and aesthetic as an artist, and I think I have a little bit of style. Notice how the ribbon on my hat expertly matches my shirt. I’ve been watching a lot of French film, lately, so that’s probably why I am looking precariously close to a mime.

2. Also on the theme of dress-up, this is how I look in private: hoodies galore, no makeup, and sweatpants, sweatpants, sweatpants. This is the me that nobody ever sees except my imaginary boyfriend, Albert, a lawyer and football enthusiast who doesn’t mind watching romantic comedies on Netflix on Friday nights.

3. I always like to scribble ideas in a notebook before I do anything on my computer. I use a black moleskin notebook like all my favourite writers. It just feels more important, somehow, like you’re a member of an ancient line of terribly important people. Whenever I get stuck on some dialogue or am struggling for ideas, I grab a pencil or fun pen (the more cute and less functional the better) or sometimes even eyeliner and just start writing, or at least playing MASH until I get bored. Today I found out I’m going to live in a mansion and have 18 children.

4. Once I’m full of inspiration and ready to “do this thing”, I like to use my laptop, because I’m a super speedy typer. I once clocked 200 WPM on Type to Learn. I have a desktop computer too, but there’s nothing I love more than writing while laying on my stomach in bed while a candle dangerously and photogenically burns next to my pillow. I don’t know who let’s me be an adult and make my own choices.

5. Despite technically being a writer by profession, and director by accident, I love design more than anything, thanks to Livi Vaughn, Felix Barrett, and the whole artistic team of Punchdrunk, who taught me not only how to sew and effectively illuminate things with LED candles but how to love, and find it helpful to get all my senses working when I write. I always try to pick something that appeals to each sense. My touch object was a beaded orange and black headband. The colours made me think of Halloween, and also of cultural appropriation of Native Americans at Coachella.

6. My scent objects were an array of scents from Demeter Fragrances, especially Lavender and Vanilla Ice Cream. Lavender smells like old people, whom I always have trouble writing dialogue for because I have no idea how real human beings over the age of 30 speak, and Vanilla Ice Cream, because it smells like cake, which is something I plan to eat later in glorious sugary celebration.

7. My aural object was a lot of Bruce Springsteen, because, as Dr. Danny Castellano on The Mindy Project, which was my source of dialogue inspiration, once said, “he got us through [Hurricane] Sandy.” I also listened to a lot of The Cars, and a variety songs from the late 70’s and early 80’s. I find this kind of music helps me write for men better, for some reason. It makes me feel like a bro from Jersey.

8. My taste object was cranberry juice and vodka, and I swear that wasn’t just an excuse to drink on the job. Although the positive side to being a freelance writer is that I can choose to drink on the job and frequently do. “Hemingway did and so can I!” was my entire graduate school motto. Once I had set my play, the cranberry juice and vodka seemed like the obvious choice. You’ll see why when you come and see it.

9. My primary visual inspiration was this super hot picture of Chris Messina with a puppy in his coat that I stole from Mindy Kaling’s instagram. I need either one or both of these immensely talented people to contact me immediately so we can discuss collaborating. This wasn’t so much a conscious decision as an unconscious obsession of the past few weeks. I figured, why fight it

10. After 8 hours of writing and numerous Hours of Energy (25 to be exact, and each bottle was more delicious than the last), this is the finished product. Do you like awkward high school dances? Do you like weird, vaguely inappropriate student-teacher relationships? Do you like dancing? Do you like seeing hot adult men get moderately naked? Do you like teachable moments? Then this play might be ‘Just What [You] Needed’.

I’m so sorry for that last joke. It was unnecessary and I’m trying too hard. I’ve been awake for a really long time. Anyway, I dedicate this play to Chris Messina, Vodka, and my professor Mac Wellman, who always encouraged me to be myself, even if that meant not knowing how to spell, having a tenuous grasp of grammar, and using emojii’s in real life conversations. Come check out all the plays of me and the four other amazing playwrights on Monday, September 15th!

Unleash Your Inner Muppet and Find Your Super Power

This year for FemFest we have extremely talented artists coming to share their stories, and some of them would like to help you tell yours! Everyone deserves an opportunity for their stories to be heard regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural background. This is why Sarasvàti Productions is dedicated to supporting all emerging artists as they grow and develop their skills. Whether you are interested in good old fashioned storytelling, telling your stories through the mouths of fuzzy puppets or just listening to someone else’s creative process, this year’s FemFest touring artists have something for you. Read on to learn more about the workshops and lecture that will foster unique theatrical education and social awareness. And stay tuned for exciting emerging artist programming all season as we welcome Emerging Artist in Residence Wren Hookey to the staff team!

Michaela croppedStorytellers are Superheroes facilitated by touring artist, Michaela Di Cesare
Sunday, September 14th 1pm-3pm $15 fee; contact to register (please note registration is limited)

What superpower have you always wanted? Turning back time, telling the future, mind reading, x-ray vision? What if I told you all of these are possible achievements through the magic of storytelling? Well, maybe not x-ray vision. In this workshop you will learn how the storyteller shapes and influences history and how to unleash the power of your personal stories. Participants will come away with at least one original story that can be performed, as well as a toolkit of skills that can be built on for future storytelling greatness. Participants must be comfortable with performance, improvisation and sharing personal stories.

Learn to Puppet, Muppet Style!
facilitated by touring artist, Tara TravisTara and puppet
Wednesday, September 17th 4:30pm-6:30pm $15 fee; contact to register (please note registration is limited)

Professional actor/puppeteer Tara Travis teaches the basics of hand and rod (“Muppet”-style) puppetry. Students will apply their knowledge of physical theatre to the art of puppetry as they explore the many elements of bringing a puppet to life. Students are encouraged to bring their own puppets from home if they’d like to learn how to get the most life out of them! Rehearsal puppets and “Basics of Puppetry” booklet provided by the instructor. @TaraCreative

The Real Thing Lecture
September 18th, 12:30-1:20pm

Sponsored by the University of Winnipeg Department of Theatre and Film, The Real Thing lecture will provide emerging artists with the opportunity to get a sense of what the theatre industry is really like. The lecture will be delivered by Tara Travis, a playwright, puppeteer and performer from Vancouver, BC with years of experience in all facets of the theatre industry. Don’t miss this fun factual, and free learning opportunity!

Sarasvàti is dedicated to offering relevant and affordable skill development opportunities for emerging artists, which is why the FemFest workshops are only $15 each! The Real Thing Lecture is sponsored by the University of Winnipeg Theatre and Film Department, and is free, just show up to claim a seat. For more information or to reserve a spot in one of the workshops please email:

Bake-Off Playwrights Announced!

What do you get when you mix talented playwrights, a carefully chosen list of script-writing ingredients and a healthy dose of friendly FemFest competition? For the fifth year in a row selected playwrights will be given a list of tasty ingredients and eight hours to stir up a script. The playwrights will then be required to share their creations with audiences who are eagerly anticipating a large helping of talent and laughter.


Janet Taylor

This year’s Bake-Off is honour of the late Sarasvàti board member, Janet Taylor, who was an invaluable member of our team right up until her passing in March. Janet’s favourite FemFest event was the Bake-Off and so we’ve decided to choose ingredients that reflect Janet’s interests and personality.To get a sense of what this deliciously decadent event will entail, read some fun facts of the participating playwrights below!

Carolyn Hoople Creed is an Associate Professor of English Literature at Manitoba’s University College of the North. Her poetry and prose have appeared in renowned publications across the country.

Terrie Todd has published seven stories with Chicken Soup for the Soul, two plays with Eldridge Plays and Musicals and writes a weekly faith and humour column for the Central Plains Herald Leader.

Angie St Mars co-hosts CKUW’s only feminist news and current events program—Femisphere. She is a relatively new playwright who graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a 3-year B.A double majoring in Politics and Theatre and Film.

Karen Clavelle teaches English Lit. and Prairie Lit to students at the University of Manitoba and is a poet writer and emerging playwright. She has recently progressed from writing voices in long poems to writing voices for theatre.

Frances Koncan is an Aboriginal playwright, director, producer, musician, composer, photographer, stage manager originally from Couchiching First Nations. She earned her MFA in playwriting at the City University of New York Brooklyn College and her BA in Psychology at the University of Manitoba.

You don’t want to miss what they come up with under the direction of Cairn Moore! You can get tickets to the Bake-Off by visiting our website,

The Secret Lives of FemFest Artists!

We asked the wonderful artists involved in FemFest 2014 some fun questions to learn what makes them tick. Here are a few of our favourite responses!


If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you love to do?

Alison Mclean, Playwright Skin Deep: Sometimes I think about starting a magazine, using real-sized women as models and focussing on fashion that is inexpensive and edgy. Maybe I’ll write a play about it instead…

Kaitlyn Kriss, Stage Manager for Cabarets and Shorts: I secured a management position at the ripe age of 20 and have worked 3 fringe shows (all in the same festival) while still holding down a job and not losing my mind. When I’m not working I generally can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends from 9pm till 6am

Ksenia Broda-Milian, Designer for the Naked Woman and Launched: I can’t imagine not working in theatre! If I couldn’t design, I’d like to direct and continue to teach and work as a scenic painter. I do have a degree in biology as well so I imagine if I had a non-theatre full-time job, I’d maybe be a geneticist, or studying plants

What was the last book you read?

Grant BurrGrant Burr, Actor in The Naked Woman: I just read Dr. Seuss at bedtime tonight!

What superhero would you be if you could? Or what superpower do you wish you had?

Elizabeth Whitbread, Actor in Shorts: I always love flying in my dreams. Give me some wings!

Taesia Scratch, Actor in Launched: Excellent question. Hulk Smash!


Rubena Sinha What do you want audiences to take away after viewing your work?

Rubena Sinha, Playwright and Performer in River: I want them to know that life is painful but it doesn’t have to destroy you. You can always find a way to renourish yourself.

To learn more about the rest of our faboulous FemFest artists and the work they are doing to make this year’s festival our best ever, visit our website, Make sure to purchase your FemFest tickets to the productions that interest you before they sell out.

Prose writing, jazz singing and belly dancing in our FemFest Cabarets!

A showcase of new talent, creative masterminds and artistic expression that extend beyond the realm of theatre—the FemFest cabarets are always a festival favourite. This year, our lineup of Opening and Closing Cabaret contributors is stronger than ever – and it’s not just because our festival theme is She’s Got The Power. We are very fortunate to have such a diverse group of musician, actors, visual artists, and more who will showcase their original art on September 13th and 20th at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. As with almost all of our FemFest events, the Cabarets are only $10.00. But there are so many more reasons than just affordability to attend both of these exciting evenings…

Bizarro Obscure

Bizarro Obscure

Last year the wonderful Susan Tymofichuk of CTV Winnipeg hosted our Opening Cabaret. Susan did such a great job that we asked her to host again this year! In fact Susan’s been keeping the action packed evening moving for us for several years. At the other end of things, the hosts of our Closing Cabaret are new to the FemFest scene. Janis and Jujube of Bizarro Obscure—a five star-rated production at this year’s Fringe Festival, are sure to bring their quirky, eccentric presence to the hosting of our Closing Cabaret! We couldn’t be more excited about the super women that have agreed to facilitate these two talent showcases.

Prairie Caravan

Prairie Caravan

Within the Cabaret lineups, audiences will have the opportunity to experience a diverse range of visual art presented by local talents Alison Moore, Pamela Hadder, Janice Kenworthy and Debbie Schon. Continuing on the visual side of things, this year’s cabarets will include the work of female filmmakers Antosia Fiedur and Ali Tataryn and an all-female dance troupe, Prairie Caravan, who will liven up the Opening Cabaret with tribal belly dancing.

Melanie Dahling

Melanie Dahling


Melanie Dahling returns with her comic stylings, Teresa-Lee Cooke is back with her wonderful prose writing and you do not want to miss a special musical performance by Tiffany Ponce! Opening will also be your opportunity to see a sneak peek of what will take place during the rest of FemFest as both The Naked Women and Launched will be previewed. During the Closing Cabaret, Comedian and burlesque dancer, Heather Witherden will treat us to a hilarious dose of provocative stand-up. Of course we have not forgotten our tradition of featuring dance and Alexandra Elliot will join us hot off the heels of her Fringe hit, Adi Sara Kreindler is back by popular demand and you do not want to miss the antics of the Talentless Lumps!

The Talentless Lumps

The Talentless Lumps

There are so many enticing components of our Opening and Closing Cabarets that you will have to visit our website, for all the details. Leave a comment below letting us know what Cabaret act you can’t wait to see. We hope to see you there!