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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Three Ladies, One Baby

For three nights only, the world premiere of Baby Box is coming to FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage! If you missed the last blog on Baby Box, you can find it HERE. As we begin the rehearsal process, we are happy to introduce you to our amazing cast! We asked the cast of Baby Box to tell us a bit about themselves as well as share their answers to the question, “What was your favourite activity as a child?”


Playing Woman #1, the birth mother, is Victoria Hill.

Victoria Hill_Headshot-page-001Victoria Emilie Hill is a creator, mover, and actor based in Winnipeg.  She is passionate about work that focuses on movement and the body as a place we hold and tell stories.  She is curious about the myriad ways we express and communicate with ourselves, our environments, and other creatures.  Victoria is also a founding member of The Patriarchy, a two-woman a capella band that sings songs and tells stories that challenge the status quo through a comedic and playful lens. (Spoiler Alert: They will be hosting the FemFest Opening Cabaret) Victoria is an avid student of life, and loves adventures in new things which have included roller derby, making jewellery, sky diving, knitting, white water rafting, and trying to keep her plants alive. Baby Box is such a beautiful project, and she can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Victoria’s favourite activity as a child was climbing trees.


Playing Woman #2, the nurse, is Natasha Torres-Garner.

Torres-Garner started her performance career in contemporary dance in 2002. She has performed with Montreal’s Fortier Danse Création, Bill Coleman, in repertoire by the late IMG_5064webJean-Pierre Perreault, as well as Toronto’s Marie-Josée Chartier. Natasha’s long dedication to the independent community in Winnipeg has meant working with Winnipeg’s Tom Stroud, Out of Line Theatre, TRIP Dance Company, Treasure Waddell, Alison Robson, Johanna Riley, Alex Elliott, Ali Robson, Leigh Anne Parry, Danielle Sturk, Ming Hon, Mia Van Leeuwen, and under the direction of Arne MacPherson. As a choreographer Natasha Torres-Garner has presented solo and group works locally and internationally, including Winnipeg, Regina, London(UK), Toronto, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Dresden, Germany.

Natasha, enjoyed the calligraphy club as a child.


Playing Woman #3, the adoptive mother, is Saira Rahman.

Headshot-SAIRA RAHMANSaira Rahman grew up in Winnipeg, and was a teacher and principal before pursuing filmmaking. In 2003, she wrote a 3-part documentary series about Muslim Canadians called “A New Life in a New Land” (Milo Productions), which aired nationally. After completing the Digital Film Production program at Langara College in Vancouver, Saira and her sister, Nilufer, established Snow Angel Films in 2010, producing their first feature documentary, “Arctic Mosque” (CBC, APTN) and most recently, “Prairie Mosque”(BellMTS), a story about the first mosque established in Winnipeg in 1976. Saira is also an emerging actor having performed in The Game (Sarasvati Productions), Murder By Poe (PTE Adult Company), and Boundary Avenue (One Trunk Theatre). She is very excited to be a part of FemFest again this year and Baby Box!

Saira’s favourite activity as a child was to play house with her sister, but their own version where they were single moms.


Victoria, Natasha and Saira have already begun rehearsals for the world premiere next month along with Director, Hope McIntyre, Choreographer, Ali Robson, and Musical Director, Rachel Cameron. Through the use of unique narrative, movement and song, the Baby Box cast is sure to give a moving performance.

For ticket information and more, be sure to give us a visit HERE on our website!

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!

You Get What You Pay For

Coming to FemFest 2019 as part of our touring shows, a POP ART performance of 4inXchange by xLq. This unique performance involves three performers, four audience members and $1,000 cash!

Jordan Campbell, Maddie Bautista and Katherine Walker-Jones sitting stoic at a table in wigs, sunglasses and white lab coats. About to begin their performance

xLq is a POP ART performance duo comprised of Jordan Campbell and Maddie Bautista. Dedicated to radical forms of performance and complicit audience experience – xLq combines ritual, fashion, dance, music, and queer pop aesthetics to question, physicalize, and reimagine our possible futures. Recipient of the Nightswimming 5×25 2017 Commission and winner of the NOW Magazine Audience Choice Award for ​4inXchange – which debuted at SummerWorks 2019, with tour stops at Vancouver’s rEvolver Festival and now our own FemFest.

“Will leave you looking differently at that fiver in your wallet”- NOW Magazine Toronto

4 audience members write on paper thoughtfully while xLq watchesLearn all about the xLq team we will be welcoming to Winnipeg for FemFest:

Jordan Campbell (performer-creator, producer) is a queer performance artist, creator and youth workshop facilitator. He is an xLq co-artistic director and performer. Jordan’s Jordan and Maddie hold up two pieces of money to eachother while sitting on their knees on the table, the audience sits close watchingsolo work is physically based and uses high aesthetics, drag and performance art. His work with youth has focused around those with different learning abilities, including teaching at Purple Carrots Drama Studio. Selected performance credits include: The Youth/Elders Project (Buddies in Bad Times), 72-Person Ball Passing (FFDN), The Stranger (DLT).

Maddie Bautista (performer-creator, producer) is a Bi, Filipina sound designer, theatre creator and performer. Her sound design has been featured in theatres across the country: Luminato, Why Not’s RISER, Aluna Theatre, b current, rEvolver Festival in Vancouver, High Performance Rodeo in Calgary, and more. Recipient of the SummerWorks Spotlight Performance Award 2016, a Dora-nomination for her sound design ​(Eraser, Why Not’s RISER), and fu-GEN Theatre’s inaugural Walk the Walk Commission 2019.

xLq and the audience members toss money into the air, smiling.Katherine Walker-Jones (performer-creator) is an artist from Winnipeg who is now based in Toronto. They make theatre and music. Since graduating from Humber Theatre Performance in 2016, they have released two EPs and recorded a forthcoming album with their band Feels Fine. They also collaborate with xLq Pop Art Performance. Recent works with xLq include curating the Trash Sanctuary event series as well as performing at SummerWorks Performance Festival and rEvolver Festival.

4inXchange can only accept four audience members per performance, so reserving your tickets in advance is crucial! The show will use a unique pay-what-you-choose method at the end of the show and only has 16 performances. That means only 64 lucky audience members will get to experience this unique event. For show times and to reserve your tickets, visit our website.

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!