Why FemFest is Fabulous!

What is so special about FemFest?! Well we can’t just list one thing. Here are the top 10 reasons to check out this year’s festival of life-changing theatre by women for everyone.National Elevator 2 - 3 Shots - 04

1.Plays in Elevators! When else would you be able to see not one but two plays in an elevator. We are super excited to welcome Theatre Yes to town, for their National Elevator Project. Their team will be working with local actors to produce two ten-minute plays that take place in elevators. The shows will have slots from September 12-15 allowing about 8 people at a time to get in and then starting again every 15 minutes with new viewers.

2.World Premiere – When extremely talented emerging artist Frances Koncan is established and winning multiple awards, you can say I saw her early work! This year we are pleased to produce the world premiere of her new play The Dance-Off of Conscious Uncoupling. With a great local cast, irreverent humour, a title inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow plus the fact that it was chosen by last year’s Bake-Off audience as the play they wanted to see – you really don’t want to miss it.

3.5 New Works in 8 hours – Speaking of the Bake-Off, this year we are honoured to inaugurate the Janet Taylor Bake-Off Award. The prize to support the development of the winning play attracted a quality number of playwrights to this year’s Bake-Off. They will be under the pressure cooker as they take 3 ingredients and 8 hours to cook up a ten-minute script. The readings of the resulting work are always a highlight plus the audience gets to choose the winner of the cash prize and the FemFest 2016 slot.

4.Acclaimed Artists – Our Artistic Director saw A Side of Dreams two years ago at Summerworks and has been working ever since to bring it to Winnipeg. Writer/performer Jani Lauzon is an amazing talent. The show incorporates puppetry, aerial hoop work and projections. It is a beautiful journey towards celebrating one’s identity. Lauzon will also be facilitating a workshop for actors while in town!
ASideofDreams (4)5.Hear Stories that are Forbidden – We sometimes take for granted the ability to tell our stories, but this is an activity that can put someone’s life at risk in other parts of the world. Monirah Hashemi has gathered the stories of three Afghan women in Sitaraha – The Stars, some told to her through prison bars. She will also be giving a lecture at the University of Winnipeg.

6.Kimmy Zee – She is a Winnipeg Fringe favourite and we’re happy to host the encore presentation of Mittelschmerz. Many missed its sold out run at the Fringe or loved it so much they want to catch it again. There are just two chances on September 12 and 19.

7.Affordable – We work hard to keep theatre accessible. See a show for just ten bucks or works in development by donation. A full festival pass to see it all is only $50! We know Winnipeggers love a deal.

8.Dance, Song and ArtCabarets! We have an amazing line-up for both our opening and closing. Plus free food from Nick’s on Broadway and Bronuts.

9.Learn new skills – If you are an artist there are opportunities to develop your craft and business savvy through our skill-development workshops.

10.100 people are involved in shows over 8 days!! It’s more than a festival it is phenomenon.

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Get Your Art On at the Closing Cabaret!

There is so much to look forward to at FemFest and to wrap it all up we’ll have rabbits, rock, cupboards and dancing! Once again featuring an exciting mix of artists from all disciplines, the festival closing won’t disappoint. Here’s the full line-up and more inside info on the artists.
FemFest Closing Cabaret – September 19th 9pm
Hosted by comic genius Heather Witherden

  • music by Nameless + Shameless
  • Sandra Brown – visual art installation
  • The Origin of Ocean Rabbit – an animated film by Alison Davis
  • Afghan Dance re-imagined – from a workshop with Monirah Hashemi and local dancers
  • The Reflections Movement – by Kim Zeglinski and Angela Chalmers
  • music by Raine Hamilton

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Check out what the artists had to say about themselves: Continue reading

A Wide Array of Cabaret Artists

Where can you hear some great music, poetry, see some art and have a few laughs – the FemFest cabarets of course! Featuring an exciting mix of artists from all disciplines, these smorgasbord evenings are the perfect way to start and end the festival. Now is your chance to learn about the full line-up of our opening event, but also to get some inside info on the amazing artists.

FemFest Opening Cabaret – September 12th 7pm
Hosted by the fabulous Susan Tymofichuk, CTV

  • Opening Welcome with drummers and singers: Cheryl James, Lisa Strong  and Justine James
  • KC Adams – Perception
  • RED – excerpt from the play by Rachel Smith
  • Teresa-Lee Cooke – prose writing
  • Is It My Turn – a film by Shelagh Carter
  • katherena vermette – poetry reading
  • music by Karenina
  • plus teasers from FemFest shows

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You’ll get their full bios at the festival, but here’s some tidbits from some of the artists:  Continue reading

National Elevator Project at FemFest 2015

Ever covertly watch people in an elevator – now we invite you to do it openly as we offer plays in elevators at FemFest 2015! We have a special post from Melissa Thingelstad. She is the Director and Co-curator of the National Elevator Project. She addresses the innovative performance style of the plays and how each performance is different based on the audience. We cannot wait for FemFest to be part of this creative performance experience. Continue reading

FemFest Welcomes A Side of Dreams!

Puppetry, aerial hoops and the power of story. A Side of Dreams fits beautifully with FemFest’s theme of Hear Her Roar, as it explores how voices silenced can find their strength through healing.  This week, we are pleased to have a guest post from Jani Lauzon, to tell us more about her inspiration to create this fantastic journey of sights and sounds that we can’t wait to experience at FemFest.


A Side of Dreams (5)When I began exploring A Side of Dreams I envisioned a simple one-woman show that spoke to loss of culture and how generational trauma can silence the best of us. But as I allowed the story to guide me the journey of writing the central character became that of the playwright: an exercise in trust, faith and allowing my ancestors and the story to guide me.

Early on I had the pleasure of working with John Turner, (of Mump and Smoot fame) as my facilitator. John and I share a common vocabulary having both studied with clown master Richard Pochinko. I have come to appreciate this method being connected to the oral traditions of both my Metis and Scandinavian ancestry.  How we retain knowledge, stories and memory in our bodies and subsequently know how to retrieve those stories becomes both valuable in healing and teaching as well as a useful tool into the creation of theatrical material and expression. I was also able to work with Winnipeg’s own Christopher Brauer to continue exploring the world of the play while I was in Winnipeg for the NAC production of Mother Courage at the MTC.

ASideofDreams (4)And so it began, as most things do, with spiritual guidance. In A Side of Dreams, Spiderwoman weaves her web so that Haisa, a troubled and silent Métis mother, can awaken the spirit of the Dreamcatcher. It became clear that using an aerial hoop would provide the perfect dramaturgical framework for Haisa, to fall into the world of the Dreamcatcher. John Turner brought in aerial hoop artist/choreographer Jessica Barrera who subsequently has joined the production as a performer.

In the world of dreams, in this land of subconscious reality, Haisa appears as a Banraku puppet, brilliantly designed and manipulated by award winning puppeteer Trish Leeper with Jessica Barrera as her assistant.

While in this world she meets an ancestral dragon, a Northern Boat man and both Haisa and her daughter Aina face the truth of family secrets and ancestral violence so that Haisa may regain her voice and begin the process of reconciliation.

Upon her return, Haisa not only calls her daughters name for the first time in years but is able to complete the making of the Dreamcatcher and teach her daughter the first few steps of the dance, wise advise given to her by one of her ancestors. The journey incorporates an exquisite score composed by award winning composer Marsha Coffey and a beautifully executed projection design by Melissa Joakim.

Running at 55 minutes, A Side of Dreams will appeal to young audiences as well as grown-ups, ending in a joyful message of reconciliation and the power of regaining one’s voice, as well as the importance of embracing ancestral memory. Check out the archival video for a sneak peek.

I am very excited to share this journey with Winnipeg audiences.

The Side of Dreams gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ontario Arts Council, National Arts Centre, Canada Council for the Arts, Arcadia Co-op, Thunderbird Centre/Miziwe Biik Employment & Training and AC Mechanical Contractors Ltd.


A Side of Dreams will be shown Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 – 7:00 PM, Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 – 2:30 PM, Wednesday, September 16th, 2015 – 7:00 PM. Don’t forget to also sign up for Jani’s workshop.