Everybody’s Got a Plan, Until They Get Punched in the Face

By Brooklyn Alice Lee

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The night before the Bake-Off, I could hardly sleep. “What are the three ingredients going to be?” “What are my competitors like?” “What if I don’t come up with anything?” All of these questions and more were racing through my mind. When I sent in my application for the “Bake-Off,” I hadn’t considered the reality of the competition! 5 of us in one room for 8 hours, writing. AH!

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All of my worries melted away when I arrived at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film and entered the writing room (well, most of my worries. There was still the ‘will I come up with anything?!’ panic). All of the playwrights were in good spirits, everyone brought snacks, there was coffee, water and sunlight to keep us going. Meeting the other playwrights for the first time was a huge help to calming my nerves. Everyone was so kind and supportive of each other, the energy in the room was electric. Being surrounded by a group of such positive women; passionate about theatre set fire to my determination. Then came the ingredients.


The sound, “shhh,” a flat tire, and the quote, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.”

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Well… alright then! As a writer, I had a few ideas in my head. The trick was which idea would these three ingredients work best with?

The timer begins.

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I take my blanket (taken right off my bed at home) and my pillow (also taken right off my bed at home) and I plop myself down in the corner. I will confess. The first half-an-hour was spent scrolling through Twitter and Facebook. What? I was 68803677_10157631014417533_6195709625510133760_olooking for inspiration! Then I came across a photo of my five-year-old brother and I remembered a story I had been toying with for quite some time that involved the two of us, but never actually got around to writing. I was immediately inspired (see, scrolling can spark inspiration)!

68706456_10157631014072533_5099784042023223296_nThe room was mostly quiet throughout the writing process. With the exception of a little chatter around lunch time and the occasional “Bless you,” everyone was hard at work. Seven hours, approximately thirty different seating positions, two bottles of water and one phone call to my mum for encouragement later and I was done. I read over the script quite a few times, which I’m so glad I did because initially my script included a “spare tire,” very different from a “flat tire”! I was sure to make that adjustment, read it over a few more times and then pressed send!

Everyone completed their scripts in a timely fashion, some finishing earlier than others. By the end of it, you could feel the thickness in the air, the stress that comes with sending DSC_0227.JPGoff your work to not only be displayed in front of an audience, but no more adjustments can be made! Now, all there is left to do is wait to watch the actors bring our pieces to life and see who the audience choice winner is.

All in all, I am feeling proud, terrified, motivated and excited to see what my competitors brought to the table! It is sure to be an exciting FemFest! The performances of each playwrights Bake-Off piece will take place on September 16th at 6:30PM and you can purchase tickets HERE! Make sure to check out all of the other amazing shows going on during FemFest 2019.

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Take it from a Pro

Every year at our annual FemFest, we incorporate workshops and special readings by accomplished women in theatre. This year, at FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage, we are excited to welcome our special guest artist Yvette Nolan. Yvette Nolan (Algonquin) is a playwright, director, and dramaturg. She is no stranger to Winnipeg and of late has been a frequent flyer coming to share her wisdom at the University of Winnipeg and PTE’s Festival of New Works. At FemFest Yvette will give a lecture in partnership with University of Winnipeg’s Real Thing series, she will facilitate a playwriting masterclass for local playwrights that stretches over the course of five days, then alongside these writers share her own work as part of the festival wrap-up event Leaping off the Page.

“For me, theatre is all about voice. Giving voice to characters whose stories might otherwise disappear, giving voice to questions that challenge us–about being marginalized, about being invisible, about aging, about grief, about our responsibility to each other and to the world.”- Yvette Nolan in an interview with ROOM Magazine

Yvette NolanSome of Yvette’s work includes the plays BLADE, Annie Mae’s Movement, The Birds, The Unplugging, Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show (co-writer), The Libretto Shanawdithit and the short film “A Common Experience,” (w. Shane Belcourt). She has directed from coast to coast and north all the way to Dawson City, Yukon. As a dramaturg, she works across Turtle Island. From 2003-2011, she served as Artistic Director of Native Earth Performing Arts. Her book Medicine Shows about Indigenous theatre in Canada was published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2015. She is an Artistic Associate of Signal Theatre.

Interested in the Playwriting Masterclass with Yvette Nolan? As artist in residence at FemFest, Yvette Nolan (Algonquin) will facilitate a masterclass for local playwrights over 5 sessions. Writers will have a chance to focus on their craft, it will then culminate in a public reading of works in progress by participants.

Workshop dates and times are as follows:

Sunday, Sept 15 – 11am to 1pm

Monday, Sept 16 – 4pm to 6pm

Tuesday, Sept 17 – 4pm  to 6pm

Thursday, Sept 19 – 4pm to 6pm

Friday, Sept 20 – 4pm to 6pm

On Saturday, September 21st at 8:30PM you can hear the culmination of Yvette’s intensive process and then join us for the Festival’s closing reception.

For more information or to reserve your spot in the workshop visit our website, HERE. Or, to purchase a ticket for the September 21st Leaping Off the Page event, click HERE. Make sure to explore our website to learn more about FemFest2019: All the World’s a Stage and what it has to offer! September 14th-21st.

Ready For Launch

-Written by Emma WelhamEmma Welham Headshot

As I enter the final year in my undergrad degree, my thoughts have been on what to do after I graduate. Many professors say “Make your own work!”, but I will admit that idea always scared me slightly. When the time came, would I know how to create a piece from scratch? Would I be able to cover not only everything on the artistic side of the process but on the production and business side of things as well?

Thankfully, the universe has a way of giving you what you need, and this past May I learned about Sarasvàti Production’s Launchpad Project. Aimed specifically at emerging artists, The Launchpad Project gives artists like me the chance to create our own show over the period of three months; culminating in three performances of the show at their annual FemFest.

Starting in mid-June, myself and eight other incredible emerging artists began workshops with industry professionals in devised theatre, movement, improv, and directing before beginning to cultivate and create material that we would like to put in our show. Now a month into this project, I can easily say that being a part of this initiative is one of the most fun and artistically fulfilling projects I have ever been involved in.

non binaryWe meet twice a week (soon to become three in mid-August), and create, create, create! Each of our eight members takes turns leading the rehearsals and we have two facilitators in the room in order to keep things running smoothly. Each member of our group comes from a different background both in theatre and in life, and one of my favourite parts of rehearsal are our group discussions, because everyone brings such a unique perspective to the table.

As we approach August our show is starting to take shape as we begin to piece together material previously created and begin to create the structure of our show.

Be sure to follow Sarasvàti Productions on Facebook, Instagram (@sarasvati_wpg) and Twitter to keep up to date with all future The Launchpad Project updates including blog posts and Instagram takeovers! For more information on FemFest 2019, visit our website HERE!

Baking With Grief

How do you grieve and move on after losing someone? It is a challenge for anyone, but even more so for Katherine, especially now that death has moved in as her roommate.

The Grief Box by Alissa Watson won last year’s Bake-Off writing competition; during FemFest 2018. This year, a reading of The Grief Box is part of our FemFest 2019 roster! We asked Watson to share a little bit about the inspiration behind her play…

“Writing The Grief Box has been a weird and wonderful process. The inspiration for the piece came from the sudden death of my mom in the fall of 2017. I have found life convoluted and bizarre in the wake of her passing and it has been my experience that many people struggle to support those who are dealing with loss, even if they are sharing the same experience. In creating this piece, it is important to me to create a community experience; a safe space where the audience can laugh, cry or get angry with or at death. I would love to have everyone leave feeling that they have a slightly better relationship with death; however bizarre it might be.

The piece has evolved extensively since The Switch, that won the Bake-Off last fall. Much to my disappointment, that scene is no longer in this draft of the play. Audiences who are familiar with the scene can consider it a prologue to the reading of The Grief Box they will see this fall. However, the same loveable cast of characters are along for the ride, including death itself.”- Alissa Watson

Alissa Watson Grief BoxIn addition to acquiring her Bachelor of Music and Education from Brandon University, Alissa has trained in theatre throughout Canada, England and is an alumna of the Professional Training Ensemble at Prairie Theatre Exchange.  She is the co-founder of The Red Nose Diaries (Maple & Sticky’s Amazing Olympic Race, The Polka Dots of Death: The Making of a Supervillain) and is a proud founding member of Winnipeg’s only all-female Bouffon Ensemble, The Talentless Lumps. Selected acting credits include Sense & Sensibility, Harvey (RMTC); Torn Through Time (MTYP); Mission: Munschpossible, Small Things, Magical Mystery Munsch (PTE); and Stripped Down Midsummer Night’s Dream (SIR). Alissa is a member of PTE’s Emerging Playwright’s Unit and is currently adapting the beloved Munsch classic, The Paper Bag Princess for young audiences this winter. In addition, Alissa is a vocalist and percussionist for the sweet and cheeky, Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir.

The reading of The Grief Box will be held Saturday, September 14th at 2:00PM at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Admission is Pay What You Can and you can book tickets HERE on our website.  You can also check out this year’s edition of the Bake-Off on September 16th at 6:30pm to vote for a script you would like to see developed for 2020.

Stay tuned for more on what to look forward to during FemFest 2019!

Do What You Love/You’ll Never Work A Day

Coming up this weekend… “Making a Living in Theatre” a round-table discussion with five professionals at the ready to answer all and any questions you may have about making a living in the theatre industry! Plus, a chance to share your own experiences. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in the industry for years, all are welcome!

Here is a sneak peek at who you can expect to see this Saturday, June 22nd at 2pm:


KATIE GERMAN Katie

Katie German is a Winnipeg based performer, director and educator. She received her training in Musical Theatre Performance at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton and studied classical voice through the University of Manitoba.

Katie is the owner and director of Junior Musical Theatre Company (JMTC), a pre-professional children’s musical theatre company which teaches the basics of singing, dancing and acting culminating in two performances yearly. Katie is also the Artistic Associate with Manitoba Theatre for Young People, a Voice Director and character voice for an upcoming cartoon due for release in January 2019, a theatre performer and a mother to a beautiful four-year-old that loves to sing and dance.


KAREN SCHELLENBERG

Karen Schellenberg is an instructor and production manager at the University of Manitoba. She oversees all technical aspects for productions with the Theatre Program while teaching its Technical Theatre students the joys of backstage work. She enjoys designing lights, sets, and costumes for some of its major productions, most recently set and lights for Love’s Labour’s Lost and costumes for Peer Gynt and Marat/Sade.

Karen trained at the U of M’s Black Hole Theatre Company before spending several years as a professional stage hand in Toronto and surrounding areas. After returning to Winnipeg to work at the university, Karen nurtured local contacts by catching theatre calls and working in summer festivals. Find her back at the Fringe this summer!


DONNA FLETCHERDonna Fletcher photo low res.

Donna Fletcher is an accomplished actor, singer, and concert performer with a wide range of national experience in theatre, musical theatre, and symphonic work.  Proud of her prairie roots, Donna received her early training in Winnipeg and earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Manitoba, a diploma in Music Theatre from The Banff Centre for the Arts, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from The University of Toronto and trained in Shakespeare text & voice at the Simon Fraser Voice Intensive.

As an actor, Donna has been acclaimed in principle roles from east to west with the Charlottetown Festival, Drayton Festival, Rainbow Stage, Theatre Calgary, Stage West Calgary, the National Arts Centre, Manitoba Opera, MTC, PTE, MTYP, WJT, the Belfry Theatre and Persephone Theatre.  She has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony; the Florida Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and was featured on the CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera.

Donna will direct the first regional production of Phantom of the Opera at Opera on the Avalon in October 2019 and has the distinction of being the first Winnipeg born female to direct at Rainbow Stage. Her favourite role of all time is being mum to Amalia.


FRANCES KONCAN

Frances Koncan is an Anishinaabe-Slovenian writer, director, and independent theatre and film producer originally from Couchiching First Nation. She attended Fort Richmond Collegiate, where she studied french horn and skipped all her other classes. Later, she went to the University of Manitoba, where she said goodbye to her career as a professional musician for a lucrative degree in Psychology instead. When the economy was tragically struck by a recession, she saw a perfect opportunity to pursue what was to be the most financially responsible career path of all time, and flew off to New York City to study Playwriting at Brooklyn College! Since then, she has returned back to Winnipeg where she evenly divides her time between yachting, writing, and curating her social media presence. She has been nominated for several awards, but never wins any of them. She prints all her grant applications on pink, scented paper to give it that extra something special.

VAULT PROJECTS is an independent theatre collective with a focus on creating new theatrical work for our contemporary cultural climate, and re-envision classics through a decolonized, pop culture lens.


SIMON MIRON

Simon Miron is a writer, director, actor and arts educator based out of Winnipeg Manitoba. He has been teaching for over a decade and has participated in the development and creation of dozens of new works. He obtained his Masters from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which was recently ranked in the Top 5 performing arts schools in the world. Recent simoncredits include: Writer: Freestyle Fantastique, Corner Of, Voices in my head. Director: Pippin (ViC/WST) The Last 48 (ArtLaunch), American Idiot, Young Frankenstein (WST), Lucky Stiff (MDA), Songs for a New World (WRP), 7Stories (TBTR). Actor: Little Shop of Horrors, South Pacific, Les Misérables, The Little Mermaid, The Producers (Rainbow), Selkrik Avenue, Bridges of Madison County (DryCold), Am I not King (zone41/Royal Canoe), Butcher, Le Père, Heyderabad (CM), House on Pooh Corner, James and The Giant Peach, Honk (MTYP) and Blithe Spirit (Echo Theatre), Sunday in the Park with George (Galleryworks). He is a founding member of the Village Conservatory for Music Theatre.


The discussion takes place this Saturday, June 22nd at 2PM! Follow the signs in the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film up to room 2T05 where we will have refreshments and friendly faces ready to answer questions, listen, talk, and share. The event is pay-what-you-choose and will run between 1.5-2 hours.

We hope to see you there!

To Infinity… And Beyond!

Forging a future for FemFest requires providing a space for the next generation of voices. To this end we have initiated an exciting new program. At this year’s FemFest, you will get to see the results of their development in progress! “The Launchpad Project” compiles a roster of emerging women and non-binary artists whose creative mediums range from a variety of disciplines: directors, dancers, performers, playwrights, technical crew, etc. This diverse and well rounded team will take part in intensive workshops over the summer including: movement work, vocal work, improvisation, devised theatre and scene-writing. Professionals working in Winnipeg’s theatre industry will lead these workshops and mentor the creative team.

The goal of this project is to give emerging artists a chance to learn, develop skills and network with industry professionals. How does it tie into FemFest? Along with all of the professional shows we put on at FemFest in September, The Launchpad will premiere a devised production connected to the FemFest theme just for YOU! The result of ongoing rehearsals over the summer and training alongside professionals! This is an exciting opportunity for both the artists and the spectators alike. The Launchpad ensemble will have the chance to display their hard work for you the audience, while spectators will have the chance to see a brand new work of theatre with a fresh cast and crew.

Facilitating and Coordinating the Launchpad are Victoria Hill and Lindsay Johnson. They are ecstatic to be helping a new group of performers break through and create their own piece for FemFest.

As for the ensemble members… here’s a list of who you can expect to see:

  • A.J. Hotomani
  • Anika Dowsett
  • Emma Welham
  • Jonathan Mourant
  • Karam Daoud
  • Leaf Pankratz
  • Makrenna Sterdan
  • Sara Groleau
  • Sarah Flynn
  • Bennette Villones, ASM

We can’t wait to see what this amazing team comes up with! We know it will be riveting!

Stay tuned for more details on this exciting project and the up-and-comers involved. Also, check out our just launched FemFest 2019 website!

Making A Living In Theatre

  • By Brooklyn Kilfoyle, Marketing and Community Outreach Assistant

Are you new to the world of theatre? Just graduated? Feeling a little lost? Or have you worked in the industry for years and are looking to share and hear common experiences? Every year, we hold a series of panels, workshops and discussions. Next on the docket, we are hosting a round table discussion all about, “Making a Living in Theatre.” In such a competitive and intense field of work, it can be hard to navigate the path towards finding success in the theatre industry. We want you to find success in your passion and that is the goal of our next professional development offering on June 22nd.

We have brought together professionals who not only work in the theatre industry, but who have found success in their respective fields. In the round-table, you will sit among professionals and newbies alike and discuss the theatre industry. You will have opportunities to ask your own questions and have them answered by people who have experienced exactly what you are working towards, all while sharing a common love of theatre.

As a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, I know I am constantly full of questions. “Where should I be looking for jobs?” “How do I network?” These questions can be daunting and scary and there have been many Brooklyn Kilfoyle, a twenty-two year old woman with green eyes and short dark hair wearing a pink turtle neck.times I wished there was someone to guide me. One of the most prominent questions others seem to ask me is, “is it even possible to make a living in theatre?” And of course it is! There are so many professional people right here in Winnipeg who live very successful lives working in theatre. Of course, it’s hard to remember that when you don’t personally know these people. Which is why this session is such a great opportunity for fresh graduates like me, it’s a starting point. A chance to meet people in the industry and get a sense of what it’s like to fully submerge yourself into it.

This discussion isn’t just for the newbies, like me. It’s for anyone trying to make a living in theatre! Whether you’re new to it, or been in the industry for years. We want this to be a safe and productive space where you can share your experiences, have others relate, ask your questions and have them answered. Or simply, just come and listen! We will have a panel of professionals signed on and ready to share.A group of men and women of various ages sitting in a circle, talking

The round table discussion will take place on June 22nd at The Asper Centre For Theatre and Film (400 Colony) at 2PM in room 2T05. Access to the discussion is on a “pay what you choose” donation basis, we ask that if you plan on attending the round table, you send an email to Sami at production@sarasvati.ca. Show up with your questions ready, sit, listen, learn and share your own experiences! We hope you can make it!

More details on who you can expect to see at the round table coming soon, so stay tuned!