2018: A Look Back

We’ve had another amazing year here at Sarasvàti Productions! It was a season of workshops and life-changing theatre, promoting empathy and understanding to audiences across Manitoba! Check out some of our highlights from the past year.

WORKSHOPS FOR EMERGING ARTISTS

This year we had over ten workshops for emerging artists, including The Artist’s Voice with Tom Soares, Monologue Intensive with Sharon Bajer, and Devising from the Real World with FemFest artist Norah Paton! We also had our Coffee with a Pro mentorship series, pairing emerging artists with a pro in the field to talk shop over coffee. In 2018, we had sessions like Dramaturgy with Brian Drader, Playwriting with Ellen Peterson and Ginny Collins, and Producing with Brenda McLean! We also hosted our “Mental Health in Theatre” Panel back in November, starting an important dialogue we hope to continue.

SHARING THE STORIES OF UNSTOPPABLE WOMEN

Full cast at dress rehearsal

Our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues saw the stories of incredible women living through riots, learning to teach yoga as a senior, accepting their true selves, and conquering all odds. New work was created by up-and-coming stand-up comic Anjali Sandhu as well as trans advocate Cynthia Fortlage. Aboriginal artist Kristy Janvier traveled from Flin Flon to present a new piece. We also welcomed Joanna Hawkins of 100 Decibels to perform a solo mime work. This was also our first year offering ASL interpretation.

WORKSHOPS FOR NORTH END YOUTH

This year, we brought theatre workshops to the students of Gonzaga Middle School and Children of the Earth High School, where students currently don’t have access to drama programs. Students were taught the basics of playwriting, directing, improvisation, and set design.

NEW BEGINNINGS ON STAGE

Two years ago, we began a series of workshops and community interviews, hearing from newcomers and immigrants to Canada about their experiences with resettling in a new country. In May of this year, we got to bring those stories to life with the world premiere of New Beginnings, featuring a blend of dance, film, and theatre. An interactive touring show focusing on youth experiences, Home 2.0, launched in the fall! Over 4,700 youth and teachers across Manitoba were exposed to the work that helped promote empathy and understanding.

PUTTING THE ‘FUN’ IN FUNDRAISING

We got to try something a little different this year with a spring fundraiser produced and organized by Delta Hirsch. It was a sit-down dinner at Forth that paired Perogies and Puns! Local comedians Mike Green and Angie St. Mars tickled funny bones while chef Keith Csabak treated folks to five courses of gourmet perogies. Then in November, we brought back our annual Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser for its third year! Elissa Kixen of WOKE Comedy Hour produced this incredible event showcasing a diverse line-up of women comics.

FEMFEST CELEBRATES 16 YEARS!

In 2018 we showcased our sixteenth annual festival of plays that put women’s stories in the spotlight! We got to travel to Burning Man with Norah Paton’s Burnt, hear from a young Cree teenager with White Man’s Indian, watch Donna-Michelle St. Bernard speak truth to power with Sound of the Beast, and witness the beautiful blend of Indian dance and theatre with The Game! Alissa Watson brought home our 2018 Bake-Off Prize with her winning scene, The Switch. We also got to explore downtown Winnipeg’s hidden gems with our first-ever Walking Art Tour. We’ve already started brainstorming for 2019, so stay tuned!

Thanks to everyone who made this past year such a success. We’re so excited to talk about what we have coming up in 2019, starting with our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues in March! We’ll keep you posted with more updates on all the great events you can look forward to this coming year.

 

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Bringing Women’s Stories to the Stage

We have an incredible line-up in store for this year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues! A teenage girl comes out to her family, a woman fights to go to the moon, a spoken word artist challenges stereotypes… all these pieces and many more will be featured during our 2019 Cabaret!

Get to know the playwrights that will be featured at this year’s event:

 

Ivy Charles.jpg

Ivy Charles

Sunday Morning Brunch by Ivy Charles

Ivy Charles is a twenty-two-year-old actor from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is currently furthering her acting studies at Studio 58 in Vancouver. She enjoys spaghetti, wine and having a good chuckle with her friends. Ivy is excited to dip her toe into the world of writing.

 

Nan Fewchuk

Nan Fewchuk

Thelma and Louise created and performed by Nan Fewchuk

Nan is no stranger to working with Sarasvàti Productions, having worked on such favorites as Fefu and Her Friends, Fen, Jail Baby and Empty. Nan has also performed with Rainbow Stage, Shakespeare in the Ruins, and Green Kids Inc. She produced and acted in the Fringe hits Dog Act and Or as well as working with the Manitoba Drama Youth Festival, Villa Rosa, The Peaceful Village, and the West Central Women’s Resource Centre.

 

Natalie Frija

Natalie Frijia

Geraldine Sloan Truhill: Mommy’s Going to the Moon, Kids! by Natalie Frijia

Natalie Frijia is a Toronto-based writer, theatre-maker, clown-wrangler, and adventurer. She was also a member of Storefront Theatre’s inaugural playwriting unit. Her plays have been workshopped and presented at Storefront Theatre, Rhubarb Festival, New Ideas Festival, and Fringe festivals across Canada. Recent productions include, Divine, GO/NO, Last Transmission, and Black Wool Jacket.

 

 

Leslea Kroll

Leslea Kroll

The Lightfishers by Leslea Kroll

Leslea’s first play Domesticatrix was nominated for a Sterling Award for Outstanding Fringe Script. Her other plays include Swallow, Auksenberg: Trial by Fury, Stains, The Catalogue of Bones, BonePeddlers, Queen of the AnthroScene, The LightFishers, and WellSpring.

 

 

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Shereen Ramprashad

I Am NOT a Victim created and performed by Shereen Ramprashad

Shereen Ramprashad is a colorful, witty and lively Canadian writer based out of Winnipeg Manitoba. Her writings are a creative blend of intelligent metaphor and philosophy with under currents of subtext and observation.

 

 

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Hailley Rhoda

Talking about ED created and performed by Hailley Rhoda

Hailley Rhoda is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film department. She is an actor, puppeteer, and writer. Hailley has worked with Sarasvàti on several projects, including Ripple Effect, Honey and Jupiter, and The Seduction Theory. She is the founding – and only – member of Chronically Ch(ill) Productions.

 

 

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Makrenna Sterdan

Who’s Driving? by Makrenna Sterdan

Makrenna Rose Sterdan is a writer born and raised in Winnipeg, who has lived in South Korea since 2015. Sterdan has written several short films such as Speaking Test, which premiered at the Korean International Expat Film Festival. Her monologue Doing It for the Fame was featured in Sarasvàti Productions’ 2016 Cabaret of Monologues.

 

Vicki Zhang

Vicki Zhang

Oracle Jane by Vicki Zhang

Vicki Zhang’s play Oracle Jane was selected for production at Alumnae Theatre’s 30th New Ideas Festival. Her plays have also received staged readings at FemFest, InspiraTO Festival, Toronto’s Festival of Original Theatre (FOOT), and the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama.

 

 

 

You can catch all of these pieces on March 9th, 2019, at 4PM and 8PM! The 8PM performance will also have ASL interpretation available. Stay tuned as we announce additional performers bringing women’s stories to the stage!

Comedy for a Cause

Join us for a night of hilarious comedy in support of life-changing theatre! We’ll be hosting our third annual Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser on November 14th featuring eight of Winnipeg’s funniest women. Get to know more of the comedians performing at this year’s event!

Ana

Ana Damaskin

Ana Damaskin is Russian-Canadian that relocated to Winnipeg from Maritimes 6 years ago after she mistook a cult for yoga retreat and gave up all possession. She’s self-realized aging hipster who has bike, drinks kombucha and enjoy soothing sounds of white-noise machine.

She has performed at Queer & Present Danger and multiple alt-comedy show at Wee Johnny’s. She brings dark, tongue in cheek twist to her comedy. Currently in year-long beef with Shoppers Drug Mart for gifting anti-aging creams on her 29th birthday. She asks that you please read comedian biography in Russian accent.  “My parents are Russian so we had to find laughter somehow growing up,” Ana jokes. She describes her comedy as “quirky, smart, and dark.”

 

 

Mayran

Mayran Kalah

Mayran Kalah is a Comedian from the bushes of Somalia and brings her experiences of displacement to the stage. She is one year into comedy and is a staple performer of WOKE Comedy Hour. She brings her A-Game every time she enters the stage.

 

 

Dawn Lavand (2)

Dawn Lavand

Next up is Dawn Lavand. Born and raised in Winnipeg, this city slicker is of Cree and Ojibwe descent. A former youth in care, child actress and a former great deal of other things; she strives to share her Teachings/lessons learned along her journey in a good way.  She possesses a bright and extroverted personality with a quick wit that contributes to her ability to engage and build community by sharing her story through humourous anecdotes you are sure to enjoy. We had the pleasure of having Dawn perform inside Portage Place as part of our FemFest 2018 Walking Art Tour and look forward to seeing more of her comedy! “Laughter is medicine,” says Dawn. “I can be hilarious – come get a dose, community-style.”

 

Dana Smith

Dana Smith

Returning for a third year as host is Dana Smith. Dana runs the successful monthly Women’s Open Mic and is a member of the sketch group HUNKS. She’s been featured in Just for Laughs Northwest, the Winnipeg Comedy festival, Chicago Sketchfest, San Francisco Sketchfest Edmonton’s Improvaganza and has recorded for Sirius XM radio.

Dana got into comedy at the encouragement of former Winnipeg comedian Aisha Alfa. “Aisha…used to host a monthly show at the Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club. She knew me from always coming out to comedy shows. She really encouraged me to get started [and] get into this male-dominated field. Because of her and the other women in comedy, a strong voice for funny women has emerged in Winnipeg.”

 

You can check out our full line-up of hilarious women on Wednesday, November 14th! Tickets nearly sold out last year – be sure to get yours before they’re gone!

 

Meet the Comics behind Women’s Comedy Night 2018!

Some of Winnipeg’s funniest women are back on November 14th! We’ll be hosting our third annual Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser at Club 200 featuring hilarious comics from all across Winnipeg. Join us for a night of fantastic comedy in support of life-changing theatre!

Get to know a few of the incredible comedians who will be featured this year:

Angie St. Mars

Angie St. Mars

Angie St. Mars is a Winnipeg-based comedian who has been accused of “lighting it all on fire!” with her tongue-in-cheek feminist-fueled wit. She has been featured multiple times at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, ODDBLOCK Comedy Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase and Queer and Present Danger.

“I was raised to have a good sense of humour,” Angie says. “My mom, dad, and brother all value humour. If I was getting into trouble and I cracked a joke that was funny enough, I could break the tension. If I wanted to keep everyone awake, I just tried to keep them laughing. That’s how I got into comedy: not wanting to go to bed.”

 

Danielle

Danielle Kayahara

Danielle Kayahara fell in love with comedy after attending a workshop with a friend. She describes herself as a “full-time worrier and part-time joke teller.”  Fueled by equal parts anxiety and caffeine, she remains convinced that the former has nothing to do with the latte. Danielle has appeared in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and is excited to bring her unique blend of storytelling and silliness to the stage in support of Sarasvàti Productions. She describes her comedy as “a mix of storytelling and silliness.”

 

Dione

Dione C. Haynes

Dione C. Haynes is a product of the Caribbean+South America, now living on Treaty One Land. Dione is a writer, poet, and co-producer of WOKE Comedy Hour. Dione got into comedy as a place to “put all the extra emotional junk that didn’t quite fit in her poetry writing.”

“Microaggressions are much more suited to comedy,” Dione says. She describes her style as “acerbic – an appropriate response to inappropriate behaviours.”

 

Elissa

Elissa Kixen

Producing this year’s event is Elissa Black Wolf Kixen, who is also the co-founder and producer of WOKE Comedy Hour. Elissa Black Wolf Kixen is an Anishinaabe Two Spirit Comedian who’s roots lay in Couchiching First Nation, Ontario. They have travelled across Canada and the USA as a Comedian and improviser.

Why should folks come see this event? “In an industry dominated by straight, cis, white male comedians, we needed change, we needed diversity,” Elissa explains. “Womxn and those who go beyond the binary have experiences that are so relatable and unique and that’s what Winnipeg needs to inject life back into the comedy scene. We ARE that answer.”

 

You can see all of these amazing comics – and many more! – at Club 200 on November 14th. We’ll be hosting two performances: a 7PM show and a racier 9:30PM show. Last year we nearly sold out both shows, so don’t wait – get your tickets today!

Women’s Comedy Night is Back!

They say good things come in threes – so we’ve brought back our annual Women’s Comedy Night fundraiser for a third year! On November 14th, join some of Winnipeg’s funniest women in supporting life-changing theatre.

Dana SmithReturning as host for her third year is Dana Smith. Dana Smith runs the successful monthly Women’s Open Mic and is a member of the sketch group HUNKS. She’s been featured in Just for Laughs Northwest, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Chicago Sketchfest, San Francisco Sketchfest, Edmonton’s Improvaganza, and has recorded for Sirius XM radio.

 

 

ElissaElissa Black Wolf Kixen will be producing the event for the first time. Elissa is an Anishinaabe Two Spirit Comedian whose roots lay in Couchiching First Nation, Ontario. They have travelled across Canada and the USA as a Comedian and improviser. They use comedy as a tool in dealing with racism, homophobia, and sexism. They are the co-founder/producer of WOKE Comedy Hour and have been featured on APTN’s The Laughing Drum and serve as the Manitoba Ambassador for the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians. They also co-produce Queer and Present Danger with Chanty Morastica.

 

Meet the comedians who will be tickling your funny bones:

ana.jpgAna Damaskin is Russian-Canadian that relocated to Winnipeg from Maritimes 6 years ago after she mistook a cult for yoga retreat and gave up all possession. She’s self-realized aging hipster who has bike, drinks kombucha, and enjoy soothing sounds of white-noise machine. She has performed at Queer & Present Danger and multiple alt-comedy show at Wee Johnny’s. She brings dark, tongue-in-cheek twist to her comedy. Currently in year-long beef with Shoppers Drug Mart for gifting anti-aging creams on her 29th birthday. She asks that you please read comedian biography in Russian accent.

 

dione-e1539269226842.jpgDione C. Haynes is a product of the Caribbean and South America, living on Treaty One Land. She is a writer, poet, and co-producer of WOKE Comedy Hour, fresh off their run at Winnipeg Fringe 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

MayranMayran Kalah is a Comedian from the bushes of Somalia and brings her experiences of displacement to the stage. She is one year into comedy and is a staple performer of WOKE Comedy Hour. She brings her A-Game every time she enters the stage.

 

 

danielle.jpgDanielle Kayahara is a benevolent cat owner and relative newcomer to the Winnipeg comedy scene. Fuelled by equal parts anxiety and caffeine, she remains convinced that the former has nothing to do with the latte. Danielle has appeared in the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival. She is excited to bring her unique blend of storytelling and silliness to the stage in support of Sarasvàti Productions.

 

Dawn Lavand (2)Born and raised in Winnipeg, Dawn Lavand is a city slicker is of Cree and Ojibwe descent. A former youth in care, child actress, and a former great deal of other things; she strives to share her teachings/lessons learned along her journey in a good way.  She possesses a bright and extroverted personality with a quick wit that contributes to her ability to engage and build community by sharing her story through humourous anecdotes you are sure to enjoy. Dawn believes that laughter is medicine, so come out and get a dose.

 

Angie St. MarsPlus we are super excited to include our former producer of the event! Angie St. Mars is a Winnipeg-based comedian who has been accused of “lighting it all on fire!” with her tongue-in-cheek feminist-fueled wit. She has been featured multiple times at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, ODDBLOCK Comedy Festival, the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, and Queer and Present Danger. She is a staple on the live comedy game show Pants on Fire and has performed alongside such notable comedians as Jess Salomon, Eman El Husseini, and Kevin McDonald. She is proud to have opened for the likes of Paul Rabliauskas, Mike Rita, and 2018 Juno Award recipient for Comedy Album of the Year, Ivan Decker.

 

You can catch these hilarious comics at two different performances on November 14th: a 7PM show and a racier version at 9:30PM! This year, we’ve relocated to Club 200 (190 Garry St), which is an accessible venue. Last year we sold out the early show and came close with the late night edition, so don’t miss out – get your tickets today!

 

Five Must-See Events at FemFest!

Hard to believe we’re more than halfway through FemFest 2018: Staging Resistance! It’s been an incredible week of theatre already… Saturday saw an eclectic Opening Cabaret with musicians, comedians, and spoken word artists from across Winnipeg! On Monday, we crowned Alissa Watson as our Bake-Off winner with her scene The Switch, which will get its own reading at FemFest 2019. We also premiered some incredible touring shows from around the world, including Burnt and La civilisation, ma mère! As the festival comes to a close, here are some events you won’t want to miss.

 

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1.  Sound of the Beast

This solo piece by two-time Governor General’s Award Nominee Donna-Michelle St. Bernard (aka Belladonna the Blest) speaks truth to power using spoken word, storytelling and hip-hop. The show highlights St. Bernard’s quick wit and quicker rhymes in a performance that reflects on identity, oppression and what happens when authority is questioned. We’ll be hosting a talkback discussion after today’s matinee at 1PM, facilitated by Tamika Krush of QPOC Winnipeg. Don’t miss your chance to experience this powerful production for yourself!

 

White Man's Indian.jpg2.  White Man’s Indian

Darla Contois takes on the ensemble of characters that make up this transformative work, focusing on the story of Eva, a Cree teenage girl, and her journey through the maze of a White Man’s high school. Following the opening performance on September 18th, we hosted a panel with Darla, Matt B. Shorting of Onashowewin Justice Circle, and Gabrielle Fiddler of Ndinawe Youth Resource Centre to talk about the issues presented by the play, as well as the larger topic of Indigenous representation on stage. There are two more chances to take in this incredible one-woman show: tonight at 9PM and Friday at 7PM!

 

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3.  Walking Art Tour

Be one of the select few who will get to experience this brand-new event! We’ve brought in an incredible team of artists who will be performing at some of Downtown Winnipeg’s hidden gems. The tour is hosted by local comedienne Heather Witherden and features Emilie Lemay (visual art), Tiana Northage (spoken word), Alexandra Elliott and Hilary Anne Crist of Art Holm (movement), Dawn Lavand (stand-up comedy), and waNda wilsoN (music). Just twenty people will get to take part in this unique event: book your spot today so you don’t miss out! The tour wraps up September 22nd at 2PM.

 

SignLanguageInterpretationDayTranslationsInterpretation4.  ASL-Interpreted Performances

After responding to requests to make theatre more accessible to our community, we’re proud to announce that we’ll be offering ASL interpretation for three shows in this year’s festival! Come see Burnt tonight at 7PM, White Man’s Indian Friday at 7PM, or Sound of the Beast Saturday also at 7PM. Tickets start at $15 – get yours today!

 

one-night-stand-poster-april-11-e1524149136777.png5.  One Night Stand

Join us on the closing night of the festival as we toast to 16 successful years! We’ll be featuring sneak peeks of new work from celebrated female playwrights, including Leigh-Anne Kehler, Frances Koncan, Jo MacDonald, Cairn Moore, and Donna-Michelle St. Bernard. The series is coordinated by Tatiana Carnevale and features performances by Melanee Deschambeault, Katie German, Kim Kakegamic, Glenn Odero, Matthew Paris-Irvine, and Erica Wilson.

The festival is running until Saturday, September 22nd with all performances taking place at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony St) unless otherwise noted. With so much to take in, you won’t want to miss a thing! Make sure to check out our full FemFest schedule for all our upcoming events.

FemFest Opens with an Explosion of Talent

Now entering its 16th year, FemFest continues to celebrate women in theatre, representing women artists from across the nation. Since 2003, FemFest has provided a supportive environment for women in theatre and the performing arts. The theme this year for FemFest is Resistance, an idea that could not have been better represented than in the works of this year’s artists. While community members can enjoy riveting plays from artists like Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Darla Contois and Norah Paton, our annual Opening Cabaret is jam-packed with Winnipeg artists, a must for this year’s FemFest.

The Opening Cabaret features a variety of multidisciplinary artists from Winnipeg’s dynamic arts community. As Sarasvàti Productions builds inspiring theatre that challenges perceptions and affects change in our community, this year’s Cabaret artists take the theme Resistance to another level. From comedy to film, choreography, dramatic arts and music, there’s no shortage of talent amongst this dynamic group that audiences won’t enjoy.

FemFest and theatre enthusiasts alike can look forward to a high-energy showcase with a total of nine acts that represent the definition of diversity in Winnipeg’s art-scene. Whether you’re listening to the vocal stylings of up-and-coming music sensation Rychelle Thompson, the artful technique of DJ Louie Lovebird, or even the raw and undeniably hilarious truth from the WOKE Comedy Collective with Dione C. Haynes and Elissa Black Wolf Kixen, these Cabaret artists bring a unique edge to the table.

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Given that Sarasvàti Productions champions programming that is diverse and inclusive to narratives from all walks of life, we are thrilled to showcase this incredible group of artists, creating an evening that is inviting and fun for everyone. For those wondering who else is on our roster this year we are happy to have the following acts a part of our 16th annual Opening Cabaret.

If you love challenging the at-times overwhelming exhibits of male privilege throughout your daily life, then these ladies have the best way for you to join in challenging the misogyny! Meet Ady Kay & Victoria Emilie Hill, the two brilliant minds of the group called The Patriarchy: a comedic a capella duo ready to smash the patriarchy with their ridiculous personalities and singing abilities.

If visual art is also of interest, audience members can look forward to an artist talk with one of Winnipeg’s emerging artist from MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art). Sue Hoang is a multidisciplinary artist whose work has a comical way of looking at the world in order to create a sense of belonging. From visual to performance art, these two delightful souls bring absolute genius to the comedy game in Winnipeg. Whether you catch them at their monthly community comedy showcase or saw them at this year’s Fringe Festival, Dione C Haynes and Elissa Black Wolf Kixen (co-founders of WOKE Comedy Collective) will leave you holding your sides all night and in tears from honest and hilarious storytelling, demanding your attention with their charming yet intriguing comedy routine. Then listen to the powerful and refreshing vocals from up-and-coming vocalist Rychelle Thompson whose energetic and soulful voice will have you tapping your feet along to her unique and enriching voice. For such a young talent, Rychelle is on her way to making quite an impression on Winnipeg’s music community.

We couldn’t have a showcase without film! Bank Statement from filmmaker Tyshana Hobson follows the story of a young Indigenous woman who gets questioned by a teller when she makes her bi-weekly cash deposits at her local bank. Bringing nothing but raw realities and truth through cinematic perfection, Tyshana’s film will leave you both enlightened and intrigued. If film is your favourite pastime, you will absolutely adore ‘Frequently Asked Questions About My Hair’ by actor Lorraine James, a longstanding talent in Winnipeg’s acting community whose work will leave you more educated on the everyday situations Black women get into living and just existing in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Moving from dramatic to performance and movement arts, the breathtaking and ever-so technical-stylings of dance duo Maribeth Tabanera & Tracy Tomchuk, with their piece titled Energy Prevalence, will have you signing up for their next dance workshop. Moving into another medium of artistic expression, spoken word; this show would not be complete without the words from poet, writer and political-activist Sadie Phoenix-Lavoie (co-founder of Red Rising Magazine).

Ending off the night in a stellar way is local artist, DJ Louie Lovebird (Lou Gandier), a powerhouse talent that will have you running to dance floor when they drop the most intense music mashups to get you grooving at Winnipeg’s local nightlife scene.

We could not be more happy to present this incredible group of artists celebrating Resistance for FemFest 16th year at our Opening Cabaret. Save the date, Saturday, September 15 at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film starting at 7:00PM with free reception (with food provided from Garbonzos at the U of W AnX) after the cabaret!