The Missy Elliott Factor

Some of you may be wondering, why Missy Elliott? Why would two-time Governor General Award winning playwright Catherine Banks write a play so heavily influenced by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott? Well, there’s no need for us to answer for her! Below is a letter that Catherine sent to Missy Elliott to express her gratitude and how the play Miss N Me came about:

There is a poem I love by Yosano Akiko that begins “The day the mountains move has come” and ends “All the sleeping women are now awake and moving.” The first time I heard your lyrics you lit a fire that ignited my frozen core. Instant lava spilled out of me;—-awe, joy, surprise—I was so amazed that you were straight-up saying these wildly wonderful things.

“Real big butts make ya man wanna look (OH!)

Back it up, flip it up, skinny girls – eugh!” gave me my first real belly laugh in too many years. Honest to God, ridiculous, BUT TRUE!—–Oh, those words hit me in the sternum—– that a man would want to look at me if I had a great big butt—cause everyone all 48 years before had told me to keep my butt shrink-wrapped.

Missy-Elliott-This-Is-Not-a-TestI bought all of your cds but This is Not A Test was the one I played over and over. I have bought at least 10 copies since 2005—-I wear them all out.

Your lyrics lit up a path in NEON that I didn’t know I would be walking less than six month after I heard your music for the first time.

One day my life fell apart in one uttered sentence. I honestly don’t know if I could have made the journey from hearing that sentence to saying “No!” had I not been listening to your wisdom in the months before he said what he said.

My play is the seconds, hours, days, perhaps years that it takes a woman to go from the ending sentence she hears to learning she must save her own life.

The first time I read a scene from Miss N Me a theatre colleague said “What is it about 50 year old women and Missy Elliott.” I thought, “You mean it isn’t just me?” At that moment I realized that for all those months it had felt like you were talking just to me.

Catherine Banks

Catherine Banks

Your attitude so playful, honest, fearless and joyful—your lyrics about butts, relationships, knowing your worth and sex toys—-How all that made me feel is what I am trying to do with Miss N Me.

Because Dawna, the heroine, drives to NYC to ambush Missy I also drove to NYC. I listened to all your cds all the way—and it was fucking amazing! When I got to downtown Manhattan I felt like the king of the world—You are beyond amazing. Of course I didn’t get to meet you but what a gift to know you through your words. You are a true inspiration to me in every way. Thank you thank you thank you.

Now that you know all about how Miss N Me came to Catherine, check out the links below to learn about her writing process and how Miss N Me developed.

The first is a fun interview she gave way back in 2009, when she had just finished completing a draft of Miss N Me (called Missy and Me back then!): Umbrella Talk with playwright Catherine Banks

The second is a blog about a road trip she took to New York to help her add more realism to the play: Six Minutes Driving in Downtown Manhattan

The third article is an interview she gave after winning her second General Governor Award about her writing process: Catherine Banks – Governor General’s Literary Awards interview series

Tickets for the world premiere of Miss N Me are on sale now! You can either by tickets on line by clicking here or by phoning 204-586-2236.

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Meet the Miss N Me Team!

They’ve all appeared in past shows with us, but you’ve never seen them like this before! We are super excited about the team that will be bringing our spring show to life. Catherine Banks (amazing two time Governor General Award winning playwright) has put the final touches on her newest play, Miss N Me, and entrusted us with the premiere . With the group of artists we have on board she will not be disappointed when the show opens on May 21st! Miss N Me is about Dawna, a hairdresser, who goes on a road trip to New York to meet her idol Missy Elliott and along the way she picks up a bunch of whacky hitch-hiking characters.

Melanie Whyte in Impromtu of Outremont

Melanie Whyte in The Impromtu of Outremont

We are thrilled to have Melanie Whyte taking the lead as Dawna! It has been far too long since we’ve worked together, ten years in fact! Melanie was in our TremblayFest production of The Impromptu of Outremont. Since then she’s been busy mostly using her singing talents in musicals such as Mary Poppins, Light on the Piazza and A Man of No Importance. She’s going to get to do a different type of singing in this play though. For her role as Dawna she’s going to have to channel her inner Missy Elliott and try out some rapping!

Kevin Gabel in EDEN

Kevin Gabel in EDEN

Playing Dawna’s teenage son, Justin, is Kevin Gabel. Kevin most recently partnered with Rana Bokhari in this year’s So You Think You Can Act competition, but three years before that he played another teenager in our production of Hope McIntyre’s EDEN. He is truly ageless and we’re happy he can still pull it off! But more recently Kevin has been playing older characters like the son in Theatre Project Manitoba’s production of Proud and Fred in Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels with Tara Players Theatre Company. Hopefully he’ll easily get back in touch with his inner teenager for Miss N Me!

Colin Connor & Alissa Watson in Harold and Vivan Entertain Guests

Colin Connor & Alissa Watson in Harold and Vivan Entertain Guests

Now here is where it gets crazy. The hysterical and talented Colin Connor and Alissa Watson will be teaming up again to play over eight crazy characters. Colin and Alissa have worked together on multiple occasions and make a great team. They just finished performing together in Theatre Incarnate’s Whitechapel Redemption, but before that they starred as the title characters in Jessy Ardern’s Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests as part of FemFest 2013! And before that they, again, played the title characters in The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine! Every time they appear onstage together they leave the audience in stitches and we’re sure it will be the same in Miss N Me. Among other characters Colin will be playing Fat Man, Clown Father, Adonis and Demetrius, while Alissa will be playing Clown Mother, Ms Excess Baggage, Mermaid and Fortune Terrorist.

Rounding out the creative team is Hope McIntyre directing with assistance from Angie St.Mars, set and costume designer Brenda McLean, lighting designer Dean Cowieson and sound designer James Jansen! All of the cast and crew have their work cut out for them in this whacky, imaginative play. Come see it May 21 to 31 at the UW Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Tickets are available online, just click here or phone 204-586-2236!

Thank You for Another Super IWW!

Twelve performances, three cities and nine SuperWomen! Our 11th International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues was a success – lots of people came out to celebrate and hear the incredible stories of nine amazing women written by talented Canadian playwrights. Thank you to all of our wonderful audiences for joining us to hear the stories of perseverance, self-discovery and empowerment!

Kim Kakegamic, Lorraine James, Jenna Hill, Samantha Walters & Mallory James at the UM Womyn's Centre

Kim Kakegamic, Lorraine James, Jenna Hill, Samantha Walters & Mallory James at the UM Womyn’s Centre

Kicking off the week we performed to a great crowd at the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba High Tea fundraiser! We were happy to be able to support this amazing organization that does so much to empower women throughout Manitoba. We were happy to also perform at another organization that does a lot to empower women, the University of Manitoba’s Womyn’s Centre. We performed there not only once, but twice last week! During the two performances all nine monologues were performed for members and supporters of the Womyn’s Centre, which does so much to make the campus a safe place for all women.

Kim at Siloam

Kim Kakegamic at Siloam Mission

In addition we were hosted by Portage Place Shopping Centre and Siloam Mission to bring theatre to people who otherwise would not be able to see it. Many people from all walks of life stopped to watch Zelda Fitzgerald vent her frustrations and Glory Girl work her way out of her bounds. John Fubbister (aka Isobel Gunn) also told the youth drop in program at the Rainbow Resource Centre about her story of joining the HBC as a man in the early 1800s. Actor Mallory James and writer Sandy Klowak also held a talkback afterwards.

One of the most powerful presentations was Jenna Hill performing Mutated for the Young Adults Support Group at Cancer Care Manitoba. The piece launched the group in to an important discussion and many shared their personal experiences. It was a moving experience for the actor and our Assistant Director, Rachel Smith.

Some of our Cabaret cast with Nova House staff & cake in Selkirk!

Some of our Cabaret cast with Nova House staff & cake in Selkirk!

We also took a trip out to Selkirk to celebrate International Women’s Week with Nova House Shelter for Women and Children where the team was again treated to the most amazing deserts! For our final performance we traveled out to Winkler on International Women’s Day to join Genesis House Shelter’s celebration. This was the perfect end to our Cabaret of Monologues. Both organizations help abused women and children through a variety of programs and services and we were happy to bring these great monologues to them.

The Cabaret of Monologues wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg and Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection. We’d also like to thank all of our playwrights, actors, volunteers and of course audiences! And now, here in the office our attention is turning to the world premiere of Catherine Banks’ Miss N Me – tickets are on sale already because we’re just that excited! Hope to see you there!

Come Celebrate International Women’s Week with Us!

Are we there yet? What more do you believe needs to change in order to achieve gender equality? It’s that time of year when the world can celebrate how far we’ve come and reflect on how far we all have to go to achieving gender equality. International Women’s Day has been celebrated by the UN every year on March 8 since 1977 and has since been expanded to include activities throughout the week. This year there has been some great steps forward in the fight for equality for all women everywhere such as the UN Women’s Solidarity Movement HeForShe, the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict (the largest summit of its kind), and Malala becoming the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her amazing work advocating for girls’ education.

With these achievements and others we certainly feel like celebrating, so come celebrate with us at our full performances of our annual Cabaret of Monologues on March 7th! Hear from nine ordinary and extraordinary SuperWomen in a line-up of thought provoking and funny monologues written by talented Canadian playwrights and performed by local actors.

These amazing SuperWomen have already been empowering people with our community performances of select monologues. We’ve performed at Siloam Mission, Portage Place Shopping Centre, Rainbow Resource Centre, U of M Womyn’s Centre, Cancer Care and that’s not all, we have three more to go! The monologues have been a hit everywhere we’ve been, from the historical figure Isobel Gunn talking about her time working for the HBC in Rupert’s Land to Bea having to make a difficult decision about her mutated cells to Glory Girl having to escape from her nemesis.

To purchase tickets to see these awesome SuperWomen and others on March 7th at 4pm or 8pm in the UW Asper Centre for Theatre and Film, click here!

And if you want to do something on March 8th consider going to Winnipeg’s International Women’s Day march! It is open to all genders and ages and will offer light refreshments and inspiring speakers. The rally is meeting at 1pm at Portage Place and is walking to Union Centre at 1:30pm. For more information check out the Facebook event.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S WEEK!

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