Cheers to 15 Years!

FemFest’s 15th Anniversary was an incredible week of transformative theatre! We cannot thank our artists, volunteers, audience and supporters enough for the wonderful success.

 

The festival kicked off with Tomboy Survival Guide – a musical call-to-arms about defying gender norms to reclaim one’s own identity. Group member Ivan Coyote also treated audiences to a reading of their work, catered by Elements Restaurant.

The Opening Night Cabaret presented a diverse sampling of local talent, including the return of Winnipeg travel enthusiasts Mindy and Marge, a beautiful dance performance by Prairie Caravan Tribal Bellydance, stand-up comedy by Dianna Rasing, and many more! A huge thank you to our Cabaret sponsors, Garbonzo’s U of Winnipeg Anx and the Winehouse, as well as the night’s hosts, local ukulele duo BUNNY!

Two Indians by Falen Johnson followed two Mohawk women (Melanee Deschambeault and Erica Wilson) reuniting after years apart to recreate a ceremony from their childhood. Directed by Sonya Ballantyne , this moving piece reflected the modern Indigenous struggle to reclaim one’s heritage and stay connected to one’s roots.

The Human Library, presented in partnership with the Winnipeg Public Library, featured the incredible stories of 23 human ‘books’! The event paired members of the public, or ‘readers’, with human books to hear their stories about facing adversity. Master Canadian playwright Judith Thompson appeared as a book for a day in between facilitating a masterclass and attending the Mulgrave Road Theatre production of her play Watching Glory Die. We were particularly honoured to welcome Senator Kim Pate for an insightful post-play discussion.

Annual FemFest staple The Bake-Off put five playwrights in a pressure cooker with a list of ingredients and just eight hours to create a brand-new piece! Jo MacDonald took home the Janet Taylor Bake-Off  Playwriting Award for her scene, Home and Native Land.  Our 2016 winner Jessy Ardern had a reading of the full draft of her piece Kit & Joe, finally letting us see what happened after last year’s cliffhanger!

The One Night Stand series gave playwrights the opportunity to present their work and gain valuable audience feedback. We invited some of our most celebrated playwrights to participate, including Sharon Bajer, Columpa Bobb, Ginny Collins, Trish Cooper, Primrose Madayag Knazan and special guest Judith Thompson

FemFest also hosted the all-ages piece Grounded Heroes in partnership with Castlemoon Theatre and devised by Carrie Costello, Frances Koncan, and Cherissa Richards. It was wonderful to have a piece for children on the stage with such a strong artistic team performing and to get feedback from such an engaged audience.

Finally Sarasvàti also presented a sneak-peek of our latest community-based project, New Beginnings, which pairs professional artists with new arrivals to Canada in an exchange of stories, music and dance.

With an amazing collection of talented artists, this year’s festival kicked off our 15th Anniversary with a bang! We’re so excited to see what FemFest 2018 might bring – in fact, we’re already looking for submissions!

 

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The Power of FemFest

Just three days left to feel the power of FemFest2017. Audiences have been blown away by this year’s performances.  Come and experience it for yourself before it’s too late!

“Thank you for continuing to offer amazing meaningful theatre experiences to our community” – Teela Tomassetti

“Great evening !!!” – Francesca Cotroneo

Don’t miss the opening of Watching Glory Die by Judith Thompson produced by Mulgrave Road Theatre on Thursday SEPT 21 at 2:30 pm and again at 9pm. There will be a special Coffee Talk following the 7pm performance on Friday SEPT 22 with playwright Judith Thompson, director Emmy Alcorn and special guest Senator Kim Pate. Senator Pate is a nationally renowned advocate who has spent the last 35 years working in and around the legal and penal systems of Canada, with and on behalf of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized — particularly imprisoned youth, men and women. Senator Pate continues to advocate for reform in solitary confinement and treatment of prisoners with mental health issues in Canadian prisons, two central issues in Watching Glory Die.  We are honoured to welcome the Senator to FemFest as a Coffee Talk speaker.

Senator Kim Pate Gives a Voice to Women in Prison – The Globe and Mail

We are thrilled to announce that there will be a Coffee Talk following every 7pm performance! Head to Two Indians tonight at 7pm and stay for a Coffee Talk with Two Indians director Sonya Ballantyne and consultant Marsha Knight.

Catch a sneak peek of our latest community-based theatre project: New Beginnings on Saturday SEPT 23 at 4pm. Admission is by donation.

Be among the first to hear brand new work by Winnipeg’s most celebrated female playwrights at the One Night Stand on the closing night of the festival. Special guest Judith Thompson joins us to share brand new work. Enjoy a toast to 15 years in the lobby following the event.

Check out some of the great articles and interviews about FemFest and the incredible artists involved.

FemFest Marks 15 Years of Celebrating Diverse Talent – Global Breakfast Television

Youth will be Served by Randall King, Winnipeg Free Press

BUNNY on CTV News

Two Indians preview with CJNU

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8 Days of Stellar Theatre

Let the countdown begin! Just two days until we take over the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film and some other spaces to showcase the best in Canadian theatre by women for everyone. You bet we are beyond excited for FemFest 2017: Coming of Age.

This year’s festival is jam-packed with stuff you won’t find anywhere else. Our 15th annual festival is guaranteed to leave a lasting impact on you.  Here’s the festival breakdown to help you plan your FemFest-filled week!

Ivan Coyote Reading
SEPT 16 • 4 PM

FemFest brings you the opportunity to meet & greet this multiple award-winning writer and LGBTQ advocate. This event is free and catered by Elements Restaurant—need we say more?

Opening Cabaret and Reception
SEPT 16 • 7 PM

Our beloved annual variety show is back! The cabaret includes pizza from Garbonzo’s U of Winnipeg AnX and wine courtesy of The Winehouse. You won’t want to miss this!

Tomboy Survival Guide
SEPT 17 • 8 PM at the West End Cultural Centre

Part anthem, part campfire story, and part instructions for the dismantling of the gender stories we tell ourselves and each other.  Prepare to dance and shout!

Bake-Off
SEPT 18 • 7PM

FemFest-favourite returns to stage five new scenes written by playwright’s under-the-wire.

Kit and Joe
by Jessy Ardern
SEPT 18 • 9 PM

Bake-Off winner Jessy Ardern left us on a cliff-hanger with her scene last year. Now it’s time to find out what really happened between Kit and Joe all those years ago.

Grounded Heroes
by Castlemoon Theatre
SEPT 19 • 7 PM

Bring your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to this reading of a new play for ages 6 and up!

Two Indians
by Falen Johnson

SEPT 19 • 9 PM,  SEPT 20 • 9 PM,  SEPT 21 • 7 PM,  SEPT 22 • 9 PM

When the words missing and murdered, truth and reconciliation, occupation and resistance are everywhere, how do two Mohawk women stand their ground?

New Beginnings
SEPT 20 • 7 PM, SEPT 23 • 4 PM

Join us for the launch of Sarasvàti Productions’ next community-based project featuring speaker Ali Saeed.

Watching Glory Die
by Judith Thompson
Produced by Mulgrave Road Theatre
SEPT 21 • 2:30 PM,  SEPT 21• 9 PM,  SEPT 22 • 7 PM

Inspired by the true story of New Brunswick teen Ashley Smith,   this one-woman show is must-see theatre!

Human Library™
In partnership with the Winnipeg Public Library (at the Millennium Library)
SEPT 21 • 4 PM – 8 PM,  SEPT 22 • 1 PM – 4 PM,  SEPT  23 • 1 PM – 4 PM

Real people are on loan to readers for discussion. Difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered.

One Night Stand and a toast to 15 years!
Coordinated by Tatiana Carnevale
SEPT 23 • 7 PM

This city is home to female playwrights who challenge us, question us, inspire us and make us laugh. Check out their newest work in development along with a reading by guest playwright Judith Thompson. Made possible with the support of the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada and the Canada Councils’ PlayConnect program.

Tickets are selling fast! Get yours in advance.

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A Toast to 15 Years: Celebrating Winnipeg Playwrights

Are you aware of the talented playwrights Winnipeg has to offer?

This city is home to female playwrights who challenge us, question us, inspire us and make us laugh. As a toast to 15 years of FemFest, we are celebrating some of Winnipeg’s most accomplished playwrights in this special edition of the One Night Stand.

Coordinated by Tatiana Carnevale, Sarasvàti Productions’ One Night Stand series gives playwrights the opportunity to test their work, while providing audiences a chance to take part in the developmental process. On Saturday, September 23rd at 7pm Judith Thompson will join five local playwrights as they present readings of work in development. Be one of the first people to hear this exciting brand new work!

One Night Stand Playwright Sharon BajerSharon Bajer is a member of the playwright’s unit at Prairie Theatre Exchange. Her plays include Molly’s Veil, Burnin’ Love, Hersteria, To the Country, The Mother Load, Jesus Does Laundry Too and The Gingerbread Girl (in progress). Coming up, Sharon will direct The Best Brothers at Western Canada Theatre Company and Theatre Northwest and Fly Me to the Moon at Prairie Theatre Exchange.

 

 

One Night Stand Playwright Columpa BobbColumpa Bobb was born in Canada and is the great grand daughter of Chief Dan George who was chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Many of her plays have been produced all across Canada. She has been nominated for the Dora Mavor Moore Award and the James Buller Award. In 1997 she won a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.

 

One Night Stand Playwright Ginny Collins Now

 

Ginny Collins has worked with English and French theatre communities. Ginny’s play The Flats (Les Flats) was produced by Prairie Theatre Exchange and Theatre Cercle Moliere in 2017. Ginny’s other works include Good Intentions (WJT 2014) The Good Daughter, MBTV: Histoire en Direct, Prairie Spirits, and Terroristas. Ginny is under commission by Prairie Theatre Exchange for Revenge and Co. She is a member of the Prairie Theatre Exchange Playwrights Unit.


One Night Stand Playwright Trish CooperTricia Cooper began writing sketch comedy with the Royal Liechtenstein Theatre Company and wrote for Fringe Festivals across Canada including The Comment Card and Homely Woman #2 (with Vanessa Macrae). Hey pay Social Studies, developed and produced at Prairie Theatre Exchange, went on to be produced by Centaur Theatre in Montreal, and Firehall Theatre in Vancouver. Social Studies won Best Play at the Manitoba Book Awards.

 


One Night Stand Playwright Primrose Knazan
Jewish Filipino-Canadian playwright Primrose Madayag Knazan has been featured at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, the International Writers Festival, CBC Radio, the Carol Shields Festival of New Works, and Sarasvàti’s
FemFest. She has been published in three anthologies and represented Manitoba at the first Asian-Canadian Theatre Conference in Toronto.

 

Some playwrights will be reading their own work and others will have our One Night Stand ensemble of actors at their disposal, including Anita Daher, Melanie Dean, Renee Hill, Melissa Langdon and Steve Yurkiw. Sarasvàti Productions would like to thank to PGC and the Canada Council for the Arts’ Play Connect program for supporting Judith Thompson and Ginny Collins’ participation. 

Play Connect

 

 

Join us in the lobby afterwards to celebrate another successful festival!

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Spring into FemFest 2017 with a daring Cabaret

We absolutely love launching into FemFest with a dazzling Cabaret showcase of some of the most talented entertainers this city has to offer. The Cabaret has it all: everything from music, dance, comedy, theatre, film and a party to follow! Come and celebrate the launch of our 15th annual FemFest with us and enjoy this unstoppable line up of entertainment.

Cabaret BUNNY Now

BUNNY

Arguably Winnipeg’s best all-female-90’s-R&B-comedy-ukulele-duo, Bunny members B-Rabbit and HunnyBunny’s charming and unapologetic attitude will take you by surprise. This is the perfect duo to host the opening Cabaret, singing about everything from Instagram to networking to unsatisfying sex, this disarming pair doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects and real-life problems.

Opening Cabaret

Prairie Caravan Tribal Bellydancers

The awe-inspiring Prairie Caravan Tribal Bellydancers are back to entertain at another Cabaret! “Our women are a gorgeous mix of sizes, ages, and certainly personalities, but that is the beauty of Tribal”, says the troupe. “We are proud to say our troupe represents FIVE decades of age ranges among our ladies, proving that age is only a state of mind.”

Cabaret ChimwemweUndi - FemFest 2

Chimwemwe Undi

Chimwemwe Undi is a local poet and linguist, who has performed across Canada and the UK, and has been published widely. We’ve been hoping Chim would be in town for the Cabaret for a couple years now and we are so excited to have finally have her here to perform for all of you!

Phenomenal talents RobYn Slade and Jane Testar of Outside Joke take you on the wildly fun, unpredictable ride that is 50/50 Improv-Theatre Fusion. Actors have learned their half of the scene while talented improvisers go in blind. Audiences watch as each unlikely pair creates non-stop entertainment that will never be seen again.

Cabaret 5050 RobYn Slade Jane Testar

RobYn Slade and Jane Testar

Cabaret Logan Jax

Logan Jax

Logan Jax is a Cabaret past fave! Born on the day of Elvis, Logan took his first steps back in May 2015. Now, Logan is exploring his new voice and the world around him as his authentic self. Logan is writing, but not by way of music. Logan is writing policy that would protect transgender inmates from discrimination and violence in Manitoba prisons. While Logan isn’t busy smashing the patriarchy, he’s cuddling with his beautiful daughter who lights his life.

 

Cabaret Dianna Rasing Now

“I am a Sign Language Interpreter (by day) and have not done enough Stand Up to even call myself a stand-up comedian!”, says Dianna Rasing. But the audiences who saw Rasing’s breakout stand up set at Sick & Twisted’s Lame Is… a disability cabaret would say otherwise! Although brand new to stand up, Dianna’s sense of humour shines strong. You might also recognize her from the 2016 Winnipeg Fringe Festival where she wrote & performed Seducing Father Brian.

 

Cabaret CharleneMoore-Now

Charlene Moore

Charlene Moore is the director and producer of Moccasin Stories as well as a masters student of the Indigenous Governance program at the University of Winnipeg . “Moccasin Stories is my way of educating Manitoba on the reason for loss of this skillful craft”, says Moore, “[of] how this skill is coming back, and how resourceful, skillful, strong, and powerful Indigenous women are.” We are thrilled to give you a sneak peek of this awesome new film.

Ady Kay, Emily Solstice and Victoria Emilie Hill combine forces to perform Green.  Ady and Victoria are recent graduates of the Honours Acting Program at the U of W, and have continued to work together on projects such as The Patriarchy, their two-woman Acapella band.  Emily Solstice is a dancer in the School of Contemporary Dancers Senior Professional Program and has worked as a choreographer and performer in Winnipeg and across Canada.   They aspire to create meaningful movement based work and collaborate with other artists working in various mediums.

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Cabaret Connie Chappel-Now

Connie Chappel

Visual art joins our Cabaret thanks to MAWA. Connie Chappel’s piece Away from the Dark is a mixed media assemblage sculpture composed of familiar forms that reference the natural landscape and investigate life cycles through connections of fragments that transform from one material, structure or state to another.  Away from the Dark will be displayed in the theatre all evening.

Mindy and Marge are worldly travellers! The nomadic duo has done so much travelling that they feel it is their duty to pass on their wisdom to others. You may have already received expert travel advice from them if you saw Tourology: A Mindy and Marge Adventure as part of the Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringe Festivals in 2015, or Iceology: A Mindy and Marge Adventure as part of One Trunk Theatre’s Dollhouse of Commons last winter. Now enjoy Worldly Rituals: A Mindy and Marge Presentation at the Cabaret!

Stick around and mingle over pizza generously supplied by Garbonzo’s at the U of W AnX and wine from The Winehouse at our reception party after the show. We can’t wait to launch FemFest 2017 with you!

Awesome Music, Fearless Storytelling: 6 Reasons to see Ivan Coyote and Tomboy Survival Guide at FemFest2017

  1. They are an incredible talent

Tomboy Survival Guide is the explosive live music and story-driven collaboration of Ivan Coyote, Sal Zori, Pebbles Willekes and Alison Gorman. It’s been described by NAC Backstage as “a rousing and unforgettable night of stories and anthems that pry the lid off the gender boxes we find ourselves in and illuminate some of the deepest wishes of tomboys and gender transgressors…” Tomboy Survival Guide is also the title of Ivan’s 11th book. This award-winning storyteller has produced four short films and released three albums.

Tomboy Survival Guide RobinToma

photo by Robin Toma

  1. They are an institution

Ivan’s books are used as teaching material in Gender Studies classes at Universities across the world.

“Ivan Coyote is a favourite of my GWS students. Since my hire in 2013, I have taught their work and shown videos of their performances in my classes.
Tomboy Survival Guide tells heartwarming and heart-wrenching stories about the social construction and consequences of strict and binary gender roles. Tomboys, like sissy femmes, and other “gender outlaws” to use Kate Bornstein’s phrase, are representative of a systemic culture that aims to concretize sex/gender binaries, but ultimately, fails to do so. What emerges from such a culture is the resiliency, humour, and kindness of someone like Ivan.
More than anything, seeing Ivan Coyote in person will give trans, gender nonconforming, and Two Spirit students a real-life representation of gender queerness unavailable in Brandon. Furthermore, access to 2SLGBTIQA* role models and representations is essential for 2SLGBTIQA* student’s gender and sexuality affirmation.”
– Corinne L. Mason, PhD, Brandon University

ivan006

photo by Jourdan Tymkow

  1. Their words will stay with you

“You don’t realize how much you are slotted into your gender box by the world until you don’t or won’t or can’t fit into one”- Ivan Coyote.

Along with being named one of the Top TED Talks of 2016, Ivan has toured Universities and elementary schools alike sharing their experience navigating life outside of society’s gender boxes.

  1. Fans of Ivan Coyote and Tomboy Survival Guide are fans for life

“I really liked Tomboy Survival Guide because it was funny but heartfelt.  You get a couple different perspectives on what it’s like to grow up being a tomboy. The music is great! Go see them!” – Wren Brian

  1. They are in demand

Ivan has toured all over the world. After playing one night only in Winnipeg, Ivan and their band take off to the Dublin Festival. Sunday Sept. 17 is a rare opportunity to see the band live!

Tomboy Survival Guide fubar photo

photo by Fubar

  1. They will not disappoint

Tomboy Survival Guide is a high-energy live performance that will have you out of your seat singing out loud. This all-tomboy band asks the audience to join them as they navigate the narrow halls of public washrooms, skirt the threat of being picked to be a flower girl at their aunt’s wedding, triumph over tying a double Windsor knot, and discover the power and beauty in realizing they were handsome all along.

Come and experience this incredible performance at FemFest2017.

Saturday, Sept 16 you have a chance for more intimate experience as Ivan reads from their work at 4pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Queer youth and allies welcome!

 

8 hours, 5 playwrights, 3 ingredients

Five female playwrights accept the challenge to write a stellar scene in just 8 hours based on three key, mystery ingredients – this is the annual FemFest Bake-Off.

On August 18th, our five playwrights met with Bake-Off Coordinator, Cairn Moore, for the announcement of their three ingredients –  Q-tip, tearing of a paper, and the quote “When one door closes another door opens.” They spent the day writing feverishly. Just imagine what a playwright could do with a Q-tip! The resulting scenes will be staged on Monday, September 18th at 7pm.

Which scene will steal your heart?

Lucy in the Sky by Sara Arenson
Bake Off Playwright Sara Arenson

Postcards from Paris by Brigette DePape
Bake Off Playwright Brigette DePape

The Lettuce Flower by Larissa Hikel
Larissa Hikel - Headshot

OUR HOME & native land by Jo MacDonald
Bake Off Playwright Jo MacDonald

Superpowers by Pamela Wolk
Bake Off Playwright Pamela Wolk

Bringing these scenes to the stage are a team of talented and versatile actors – Ian Bastin, Lorraine James, Christina Heather, Josh Ranville and Danielle Savage.

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Bake-Off audiences must love surprises and come ready for anything.  Be prepared to play an integral role in crowning this year’s Bake-Off winner by voting for your favourite. On the line for these playwrights is the Janet Taylor award (a $500 cash prize) and a chance to have a reading of their full script at FemFest 2018. Come and share in the excitement!