FemFest 2015 was #perfect – as if guided by The Stars with A Side of Dreams. It managed to sail past the Middle Pain, avoid Irony and battle Stigma. Although one elevator was Closed, nothing could stop The Club from pumping. Life is a Cabaret, it is too Short so we must Bake-Off while we can. Now we Dance-Off in to the sunset.
The 13th FemFest wrapped up on September 19th and definitely went out with a roar. The closing cabaret featured rock ‘n roll, comedy and a beautiful exchange of art. The unlucky 13 did rear its head a few times as we ramped up to the festival with travel difficulties, elevator issues and of course technology challenges! Overall, the festival was a huge success with great responses to the shows, dozens of artists being showcased, development of emerging artists and lots of connections being made.
Of course a highlight was welcoming Afghan artist Monirah Hashemi to Winnipeg, despite last minute visa stress, lost luggage and allergies – she did a great deal of outreach and gave a powerful performance of Sitaraha plus educating a large audience of primarily theatre and film students about art in Afghanistan. We are lucky to be able to create our work without fear of persecution. It was not lost on the audience that when they want to threaten and discredit a female artist, such as Monirah, they attack her morality with accusations of being a whore. Audiences were honoured to hear the stories that she has fought to tell.
A Side of Dreams was a breathtaking display, an acting masterclass and an inspiring call to action for everyone to use their voice. There was barely a dry eye in the house during the reading of Stigma by Cairn Moore. Audiences had an impossible choice when voting for this year’s Bake-Off winner with five very different and strong pieces competing for the title. It was wonderful to see the development of Irony from last year’s Bake-Off and to provide a slot for the world premiere of last year’s winner. The Dance-Off of Conscious Uncoupling or Unconscious Coupling as our production coordinator liked to say, brought a wonderful cast together to present an epic teenage play. In the end inspiring us all not to get stuck but to seek new adventures. #perfect also explored how young people form their identity and led to some great post-show dialogue. There was amazing range with the Shorts!
Thinking back to the first day, we kicked off by hearing Kim Zeglinski roar in Mittelschmerz. Audiences roared in laughter in response. The joy was palpable as people left the elevator plays brought to us by the fabulous Theatre Yes! At our opening cabaret the drummers called us all to action and the artists that night reminded us of the need to speak up for those who have no water in Shoal Lake, for the loss of our natural resources, against racism, in celebration of who we are and in working together towards a better community.
FemFest takes a village and we are so grateful to one and all for their support. To our amazing artists, production team, Board of Directors, volunteers, sponsors, funders, patrons and cheerleaders!
Believe it or not, FemFest 2016 is already in the works with a theme of transformation. For interested artists please check out our call for submissions – FemFest 2016 call for submissions.