Get to Know Our Emerging Artists

We’re so excited for the return of our emerging artists unit called Launchpad at FemFest 2020. With the support of RBC Foundation and the Graham C. Lount Foundation we’ve been able to continue this program in a safe and virtual manner. If you don’t already know, Launchpad brings together ten emerging women and non-binary artists whose creative mediums range from a variety of disciplines: directors, dancers, performers, playwrights, technical crew, etc… This year we even added a junior member for further mentorship! 

Over the last month, this team of young artists have taken part in virtual workshops to develop skills and explore the intersection of art & climate change. Led by Launchpad coordinators Lindsay Johnson and Victoria Hill but with multiple guest artist guides, their workshops are building up to a performance of To:Morrow a guided theatrical experience taking place in Downtown Winnipeg. This promenade-style performance will includes theatre in unexpected places. Short performances will tackle the theme of climate change while being situated in our own downtown environment. A small audience will be able to take part in the tour in-person, while there are virtual tickets available for those wanting to follow from the comfort of their home. 

This year’s Launchpad team includes: Lindsey Taylor, Kate Willoughby, Anna Kerot, Caitlyn Bird, Taylor Gregory, Brittney Fredrickson, Sarah Luby, Emma Welham, Kristian Cahatol, Kimmy Martin, and Tara Streilen. Let’s get to know them a little better, shall we? 

How would you describe yourself to a stranger?   
Lindsey: I would describe myself as a listener who is naturally curious about other people’s stories, and as a daydreamer who is constantly excited by the question of “What if.” I’m someone who loves coffee, listening to the rain, and going on adventures!  
Kate: I would describe myself as someone who tries not to take themselves “too” seriously, someone who is outgoing, loves to laugh and tries to be conscious of living in the moment.  
Anna: A day dreamer with excessive interest in arts, wishing to change the world for better, but definitely starting with myself.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give your younger self?  
Caitlyn: Quit taking everything so literally, it’s not that bad. Just let your hurt out and move forward, everything will be alright. 
Taylor: Try not to worry too much about the future and have faith that you’re where you’re supposed to be.  
Brittney: Don’t be afraid of rejection or failure, the more it happens the more you’ll understand how to deal with it and grow. Cause trust me, you’re going to deal with it a lot and honestly: the outcome will be better than you expect.  

What’s your go-to karaoke song?   
Sarah: “Love of My Life”-Queen  
Emma: I’ve actually never done karaoke, but I will never say no to a good belt of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” when driving with friends.  
Kristian: My go-to karaoke song is a Filipino hit by Morrissette called Akin Ka Na Lang which I most certainly do not have the range for, but will sing nonetheless, with impassioned fervidity.   

Why should people be excited about your performance at FemFest?  
Lindsey:  Not only will the Launchpad members present pieces in the exciting format of a walking tour, the theme of these pieces will also be centered on the important issue of climate change. I’m positive that people will walk out of these performances with something impactful, whether it’s a new perspective, a new idea, or an inspired feeling! 
Kate: I think people should be excited about the possibilities of the important subject matter we are tackling. Climate change is happening right now and is rapidly changing our world that we live in. 
Anna: I will try my best to be as natural and free on stage as possible, mixing myself with the character I am playing and thus creating a unique personalized one.  
Taylor: It is my first show ever with Sarasvàti! 
Brittney: Because a lot of amazing talented people worked really hard on something we are super proud of.  
Emma: I am very excited to work with other emerging artists on a piece about climate change. In my generation I think there is a great push towards protecting the environment, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because we will be around to witness the effects of what will happen if we don’t. 
Kristian: People should be excited about my performance at FemFest because I think that the workshops and training leading up to the performances are the opportunity, I’ve been looking for to really discover and challenge my voice as an artist while exploring the critical topic of climate change.  
Sarah: Because an extremely talented group of female and non-binary artists are coming together, to create an exciting, provocative, and engaging piece bound not only to entertain, but educate, and engage audiences.  

As mentioned above, only a very small number of folks will be accommodated for the walking tour, so buy your tickets ASAP! The performances run on September 20, 24, 25, and 26. See Downtown Winnipeg through a new lens and support emerging artists! 

Meet the Playwrights of FemFest 2020

FemFest wouldn’t be possible without our incredible playwrights. These local writers vary in age and experience, but they have one thing in common: a talent for creating new worlds. Our “Shorts” playwrights include Jonathon Mourant, Sarah Flynn, Vicki Zhang, and Meredith Taylor-Parry. Two more local playwrights whose works are featured are barb janes, the Bake-Off winner for Agency, and Hannah Foulger, who’ll be premiering The View From Here

Let’s get to know them a little better through a little Q&A. 

If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you be doing instead?  
Jon: I would likely get involved in politics or criminal justice, secretly trying to destroy both from the inside. And by destroy, I mean radically change in order to better serve the people that they currently exploit.  
Sarah: I wanted to be a vet as a kid but as I grew up I found out I was afraid of animals larger than the average house cat.   
Vicki: I’ll still be writing – non-fiction, short stories, novel. In fact that’s what I do.  
Meredith: I have always loved kids, babies and preschoolers are particularly amazing … maybe a preschool teacher? (Although I started out in education but found it didn’t suit me … maybe I could just be a baby-holder?) I have thought about writing books for this age group… 
barb: Attending theatre, volunteering in theatre! Writing a novel, playing pickle ball, watching birds (how many kinds of sparrows ARE there??!)  
Hannah: I would be living off the grid living on a mountain somewhere. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give your younger self? 
Jon: Lean into how weird and different you know you are.  
Sarah: Memorizing more than the first 5 numbers of Pi won’t actually impress anyone.   
Vicki: Don’t worry about how others and the world see you. Be yourself and love yourself. 
Meredith: You knew you wanted to be in theatre since you were 4 years old. Don’t let ANYONE talk you out of it.  
barb: Don’t settle – go for it, and trust your gut.  
Hannah: Buy bitcoin?   

Why should people be excited about your piece at FemFest?  
Jon: I can promise that my show at FemFest is unlike anything that’s been seen in Winnipeg theatre before. It’s funny, touching, weird, and glam rock, baby.  
Sarah: I believe one can always be excited about a new playwright. This will be my first time having something I wrote performed by someone other than me. So, I am super new to this whole playwriting thing. Meaning that there’s so much possibility from here. You could see this reading of my first real play at FemFest and one day maybe you’ll be able to tell people you were at the first public reading of the first script by a now famous playwright! What? Anything could happen, right?  
Vicki: This short performance piece is an “autofiction” monologue that was inspired by my encounter in 2019 with Chinese and Hong Kong protesters, as well as a reporter on the scene. I am a female Chinese-Canadian writer. As an immigrant and POC living in diaspora, I aim to draw attention to the personal, messy, complex grey area in the black-and-white narratives that dominate our cultural reporting on foreign affairs. Such perspectives, so hard to be put into neat boxes, have been largely missing in the mainstream discussion of those important issues of our day. I am so excited that FemFest 2020 has welcomed such voices and perspectives that have the potential to bridge politically-fractured communities. I hope the audience will find inspirations and questions from viewing this piece.  
Meredith: There is a puppet in it? I am hoping it will resonate because there is a big piece of me in it, and in my experience, the more human the story the more audience members will connect to it.  
barbAgency opens an overdue conversation on child welfare by exposing the parallels in three generations (British Home Children, 60’s scoop, inter-country adoptions) in a surreal, funny and poignant story.  

What’s your go-to karaoke song?   
Jon: Mr. Brightside  
Sarah: Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield  
Vicki: In English, anything from the Carpenters because theirs was one of the few bands that got introduced to China in the 1990s when I was coming of age. In Chinese, there will just be too many songs I’ll be happy to sing.  
Meredith: I would like it to be Don’t Stop Believing (Journey) but I can’ t hit the high notes.  
barb: R-E-S-P-E-C-T (Aretha Franklin), Rise Up (Parachute Club)  
Hannah: Somebody to Love – Queen  

Tickets to see ShortsAgency, and The View From Here are on sale now. The Shorts are taking place on Thursday, Sept 24 – 7:45pm, Agency is on Monday, Sept 21 – 8:30pm, and The View From Here is Saturday, Sept 19 – 2:00pm. All readings will be taking place in-person at The Dalnavert with social-distancing measures in place. Only a small, limited audience will be accommodated so buy your tickets fast! Possible livestreaming is also in the works so stay tuned if watching from home is more your speed. 

bug at FemFest 2020

The tree is sick
The poison cycled so much
Sickness was planted in us
And we are trying to get well

How can you navigate inter-generational trauma when you’re pushed beyond the brink? bug, one of our featured shows at FemFest 2020, explores this question. Although our commitment to safety during the continued pandemic means that the artists cannot travel to Winnipeg and offer the performance live, we are excited that a high quality version of the show will be offered virtually and followed by a chance for discussion in real-time with the artists.

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Yolanda Bonnell created and stars in bug 

bug is the story of a girl and her mother, both fighting the effects of colonialism on their bodies. They are followed by Manidoons, a physical manifestation of trauma that crawls across generations. Created and performed by Yolanda Bonnell, this Dora Mavor Moore Award-nominated performance draws on the strength and resilience of Indigenous women as they grapple with a painful past and carve out their place to survive.

Using movement, poetry, and prose, creator/performer Bonnell weaves stories of women grappling with their painful past and making tough choices to survive.

bug pulls back the curtain on the falsehood of reconciliation using storytelling and movement, bringing everything we’ve seen in the news and the history books into the heart and gut.” Kiera Grant, Mooney on Theatre

“I think people should be excited because bug is more than just a performance,” Yolanda said. “It’s an artistic ceremony in which witnesses are invited to share space – which may not be physically – but share space nonetheless. It’s an opportunity to see a small faction of the effects of colonization, specifically in Northern communities or small cities. Performed in a poetic manner.”

When asked who inspires her, Yolanda said Indigenous youth: “The amount of fighting they do every day in a world that often treats them like garbage. Yet they keep rising up and they keep going. There’s nothing more inspiring than that.”

“While my heart broke for the protagonist, I felt hope looking across the audience, and as we cried together from the heaviness, we all felt. To move forward in reconciliation, we need to hear these stories and sit in the uncomfortable silence that precedes change.” Trisha Dayal, Stage Door Toronto

The 60-minute solo show will be virtually offered at FemFest 2020 and tickets are already on sale. The show times are Sunday, Sept 20 at 6:00pm, Monday, Sept 21 at 1:00pm, and Tuesday, Sept 22 at 6:30pm. Yolanda is also our featured “The Real Thing” lecturer who will be giving an overview of her career trajectory in theatre. Her lecture is taking place on Wednesday September 23 from 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm and is free and open to the public.

As Trisha Dayal writes in her review, “Unless you’ve lived as a marginalized person in this country, you will struggle to relate to the story in bug, but that’s exactly why you should watch it.”

 

The Artists of Songide’ewin

With Songide’ewin opening in less than a week (!) we thought you should get to know the cast and crew a little better. Songide’ewin tells the stories of over 70 Indigenous youth and their views on reconciliation. Originally set to premiere in May 2020, the show is being performed in late August with all social distancing and health protocols in place. Three performances will take place under an open-air tent at Whittier Park for limited audiences August 25-27 at 7pm. The shows will also be livestreaming each night with a chance for virtual discussion, tickets are required to tune in.

Each artist has had an invaluable role in creating Songide’ewin and we’re in awe of their flexibility and commitment to telling these stories.

 

Playwrights

The stories of the youth were compiled by Darla Contois and Jo Macdonald.

Darla Contois is a Cree-Salteaux Indigenous theatre artist. She graduated from Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Theatre professional training program in 2014, attended

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Darla Contois

David Smukler’s National Voice Intensive and premiered her solo show White Man’s Indian at Summerworks 2017 in Toronto where she was awarded the Emerging Artist Award. For the past few years she has been living and working professionally in her home territory treaty one; facilitating arts/storytelling workshops, mentoring Indigenous youth, acting, writing and also starting a family.

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Jo Macdonald

Jo is Anishinaabe, a mom, theatre fan, and writer living on Treaty 1 territory. She is a member of Prairie Theatre Exchange ‘s Emerging Playwrights Unit.

 

 

Ensemble

The show features five ensemble members.

Josh

Josh Ranville

Joshua Ranville’s first ever acting experience was auditioning for a play called “The Rememberer” in 1998 at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People (MTYP). This happened to be where he had the pleasure of meeting Tracey Nepinak and working with her for the first time as she was also a part of that cast. That was when Josh caught the theatre bug and he hasn’t been able to stop acting ever since. The opportunity to work with the amazing Songide’ewin cast is a breath of air for Josh since quarantine was feeling like a creative vacuum. Yay for this project, yay for theatre!

 

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Aqqalu Meekis

Named after an inuit actor from Greenland, Aqqalu Meekis got his start in acting with a cut, small role in the 2003 film Stryker. Since then, he has been been active in various film, TV and theatre roles such as a sniper with the Canadian Armed Forces in Paul Gross’ Hyena road, Donny in George F. Walker’s Adult Entertainment, Katurian in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, and even as a nameless extra (no role is too small) on the set of Outlander, on location in Scotland. Aqqalu would like to thank Sarasvàti for the chance to break free from pandemic-induced cabin fever.

 

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Jessica McGlynn

Jessica McGlynn is a Winnipeg based actor and a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film Honours program. This is Jessica’s first time working with Sarasvàti Productions and she is thrilled to have been able to work on this show. She hopes you listen to the show with an open heart and leave with the drive to listen and learn from experiences that are different from your own. Much love to her family for their continual love and support.

 

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Sara Demers

Originally from Quebec, Sara Demers is a transformative actress. Since her youth, body language and the human mind were her playground and her curiosity. She worked as the lead in Once upon a time, Doltra by Théâtre des petites lanternes, a French landscape play. She also was the lead in the short film Clara by Matthew Gaines that was presented at Fantasia a Montreal Film Festival in 2018. And she played in Patterns by Pierre Friquet a 360° and virtual reality independent French film that won the VR Award from the Festival du nouveau cinéma (New Cinema Festival) in Montreal and when to Cannes, France, in 2018. Sara is also a writer. She co-produced and wrote What if … an independent short film, and she is currently working to create films with Ode Productions’ team in Winnipeg.

 

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Braiden Houle

Braiden Houle is excited and honoured to be involved in this production of Songide’ewin. He was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Selected credits include: Kill Me Now (Touchstone Theatre), Kill Me Now (Manitoba Theatre Centre/National Arts Centre), Only Drunks and Children Tell The Truth (Firehall Arts Centre), Camera Obscura (the frank theatre company), The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Manitoba Theatre for Young People), TH’OWXIYA: The Hungry Feast Dish (Axis Theatre), Redpatch (Hardline Productions), Jumping Mouse (Urban Indigenous Theatre Company), Little  Red Riding Hood (Urban Indigenous Theatre Company), Wings of Darkness (Urban Indigenous Theatre Company). He is a graduate of Studio 58.

 

 

Sound & Design

MJ Dandeneau

MJ Dandeneau

MJ DANDENEAU is a French Anishinaabe / Métis woman born on Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg, MB). Her tours and studio work have literally taken her all over the globe and nationally recognized with recording awards such as Canadian JUNO, WCMA-Award, Indian Summer Awards & CFM-Award. MJ’s deep-seated roots to her French-Anishinaabe and Métis heritage are translated and embodied in the music she creates. MJ made her theatre debut in RMTC’s production of the musical Bitter Girls. Some of her highlights has been, being part of MTYP’s production musical Charlie Brown’s Double Bill playing Frieda as well as the sound designer for the production Torn Through Time and Tiny Treasure, Prairie Theatre Exchange’s production “Katharsis” and Cercle Molière premier production “La Liste”. She continues to compose for numerous short films and documentaries for various projects along the way. Dandeneau is very excited and honored to be part of this production under the talented Director Tracey Nepinak.

 

 

Set & Costume Design

Louis

Louis Ogemah

Louis Ogemah was born in 1962, at a very young age somewhere near his mother in the town of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. In 1992, Louis graduated from the University of Manitoba with an Honors Degree in Fine Arts. He is the Founder of the Urban Shaman Gallery, a contemporary indigenous art gallery, situated in downtown Winnipeg since 1996. Louis has worked over 30 years as a contemporary artist, articulating and embracing the Anishinaabe culture into all his work. Louis began his theatre opus in 1989 with Awasikan Puppet Theatre, later Awasikan Theatre as an actor. He trained young people in Red Roots Community Theatre for various productions and then, began dabbling in Set and Costume design with MTYP’s “The Rememberer”, and WowPow Theatre’s Fringe play “Crisis in Oka”, and many other productions throughout the new millennia. So, when the opportunity to work on Songide’ewin, a play inspired and developed by Indigenous youth about the challenges they face in these ambiguous times, Louis thought; “I love the sound of an Orange being peeled”.

 

 

Director

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Tracey Nepinak

Tracey Nepinak is Cree (with a hint of international flavoring mixed in), her family roots are from Peguis first nation but currently lives in the Canada’s largest urban reserve, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Tracey has worked as a professional actor since 1993. Recent theatre, film and directing credits include: The Hours That Remain (director- Theatre by the River), Honour Beat (Rae Anna – The Grand London/Theatre Calgary), The Third Colour (Agatu – Prairie Theatre Exchange), A Short History of Crazy Bone (Crazy Bone – Theatre Projects Manitoba), Burden of Truth (Rose – Eaglevision), The Rez Sisters (Philomena Moosetail), The Belfry.

 

 

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As you can see from the incredible talent, Songide’ewin is not a show to be missed! If you haven’t already bought your ticket for our outdoor, socially distanced shows, there are still some available. Not into the idea of being in a live audience? That’s OK too! Each night we are offering a virtual live-stream. Whether you want to see the show in-person or online, you better buy your tickets quick before they go!

Alice and The World We Live In

We are thrilled to continue to offer unique theatre and important opportunities to showcase artists safely at FemFest 2020: Engaging Community. Here’s a chance to learn more about our featured local production!

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Alex Haber, Playwright

How do you move forward when you’re stuck? Alice and the World We Live In tells the story of Alice, who stands frozen on a dangerous mountain pass. Paralyzed, unable to move forward or turn back, she is suspended between multiple possibilities of what could have been and what is. Inspired by the topsy-turvy world Alice encounters in Wonderland when she falls down the rabbit hole, this moving allegory explores a woman’s struggle to push through the grief of losing the love of her life to a random act of terror. Echoing our collective fear of what lies ahead in these tumultuous and uncertain times, the play exalts our indefatigable resilience and endless capacity to love, once we find the courage to let go.

“Haber takes what could have been a thin and predictable premise and enriches it with a quite dazzling sense of theatricality.” – Jim Burke, Montreal Gazette

The play was written by Alexandria Haber: an award-winning playwright. Her plays have been produced in Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, the UK and include Alice and The World We Live In (Centaur),  Mouth to Mouth (Montreal Fringe, The White Bear, London) (co- written with Ned Cox), On This Day (Centaur Theatre), Life Here After (Imago, Centaur, Wildside), Closed for Urgent and Extraordinary Work (Theatre Yes, Edmonton), Game Changers and I Don’t Like Mondays and The Water Chronicles (Geordie Productions). This is the second time she will have the pleasure of having her work in FemFest, the first time being Ordinary Times in 2002.

Alice and The World We Live In is a passionate and important piece dealing with a very modern sense of grieving. […] The way these ideas are dug into in the writing, as well as the expressionistic way we are handed them by this production, still give fresh perspectives and a realness that is always welcome.”  – Brandon Lorimer, Art Critique

To learn more about the script, be sure to check out this interview with Alexandria Haber and Jane Wheeler, who played Alice in the world premiere.

“Montrealer Alexandria Haber has written an extremely complex two-hander play about the process of grief and death, and how we are able to move forward.” – Joe Szekeres, On Stage Blog

We’re incredibly excited to be moving forward with Alice and the World We Live In at FemFest as a live, outdoor event with an on-line viewing option. Directed by Ann Hodges, the play will star local-theatre-veterans Ray Strachan and Elena Anciro. It will be a presentation unique to our times with a chance for audience to gain insights in to the creative process. The shows will take place at Assiniboine Park on September 23, 25, and 26. It will be limited capacity in order to implement social distancing, so reserve your spot right now by buying a ticket here!

Songide’ewin: Reconciliation Through Theatre

We are so excited to finally share Songide’ewin with audiences! We’ve worked hard to ensure a safe process for our cast, crew and audiences. This production features the stories and lived experiences of over 70 Indigenous youth performed by a cast of 5. Join us outdoors or online August 25 to 27!

For three nights at 7pm we will have 50 in person tickets available for the outdoor performance with socially distanced seating. Each performance will also be livestreamed for at home viewing. Tickets can be purchased online here or by calling (204) 586-2236.

Gathering online for the first rehearsal this past Tuesday was an exhilarating experience. Under the direction of Tracey Nepinak and with the support of Knowledge Keeper Gayle Pruden, the team shared how thirsty they have been to return to creative work.

“Sorry doesn’t change the past! Systemic racism still exists! Words are meaningless without actions!”

Reconciliation through Theatre was initiated by an Indigenous Advisory Committee two years ago. We have since worked with seven amazing organizations to offer a creative and safe space for Indigenous youth. Using an artistic lens, with the guidance of experienced facilitators and elders, youth examined how they interact with the world around them and how the world in turn interacts with them.

“Do you think reconciliation is possible?”

“Yes, but it will take lots of time.”

Anishinaabe playwright Jo MacDonald with Darla Contois have transformed these stories into a theatrical script. With a fabulous design team and five talented actors, renowned Cree theatre artist Tracey Nepinak will bring this production to life! In addition, participant Bear Harper is mentoring with Jaime Black to display a large mural of his artwork alongside art created during the workshops.

Our gratitude to the amazing funders who have waited with us – The Winnipeg Foundation, Province of Manitoba, Department of Canadian Heritage, NIB Trust, Manitoba Arts Council, The Winnipeg Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and our sponsors Cushman & Wakefield | Stevenson, Wawanesa Insurance & Manitoba Blue Cross.

“You need to take everything you’ve been taught and put it aside. And really hear what the young people have to say.”

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see this exciting performance! Get your tickets here.

The Art of the Pitch

Pitching is an inevitable part of any theatre artist’s life. From pitching your show to festivals, to pitching your show to potential audiences, pitching is an art form in and of itself. 

On August 12 from 7:00-9:30pm, we’re offering a virtual workshop called Pitching 101. Led by Hope McIntyre and featuring an array of experienced panelists, the workshop will help those who are interested in bringing their creative ideas to the stage.

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A shot from our last workshop, Producing 101 in May, 2020!

Sarasvàti Production’s Artistic Director will guide participants through the process of creating a strong pitch. She was the inaugural Winnipeg Foundation Fast Pitch winner and has twenty years of experience producing and marketing work. Participants will have time to finesse their pitches and test them out on a panel of experienced artists with a history of promoting their own work. The final component will be getting valuable individual feedback. Pitching experience, feedback, and a networking opportunity all in the comfort of one’s home!  

“Learning how to passionately speak about your work to a range of people is crucial,” says Hope. “Whether you’re pitching your Fringe show to strangers or pitching to get your work produced, you need to get people interested in your story and rope them in.”  

The panelists providing feedback on pitches will include: 

Monica Ogden, who you may remember from her show Monica Vs. The Internet which had a great run at last year’s Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Monica (she/they) is an award-winning disabled Filipina, Polynesian, British storyteller, actor and comedian. Her Lilang migrated from Illocos Sur, Philippines in 1966, and she is now an uninvited visitor in the unceded territories of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. Her solo show Monica vs. The Internet: Tales of a Social Justice Warrior ( ★★★★★ Winnipeg Free Press, ★★★★★ Saskatoon Star Phoenix) directed by K.P. Dennis toured 6 cities across Canada in the summer of 2019, toured to Second City Toronto, and was recently featured on CBC Arts for their online show with the #ArtApart National Theatre School series [Insert Monica bio].  

Josh Languedoc – an Anishinaabe playwright, theatre creator, and educator currently living in amiskwaciywaskahikan (Edmonton) and a proud member of Saugeen First Nation. For the past 2 years, Josh has been touring his acclaimed solo show Rocko and Nakota: Tales From the Land across Canada. Josh is currently a masters candidate at the University of Alberta’s MFA Theatre Practices program focusing on Indigenous playwriting. As an educator, Josh has taught theatre, acting, and playwriting at the Citadel Theatre, Artstrek, and all throughout Edmonton Public Schools. Josh is also the Youth Education and Outreach Coordinator for Workshop West Playwrights Theatre.   

Audrey Dwyer is Associate Artistic Director at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. She has over 20 years of experience working as an actor, director, playwright, teacher, artistic director, facilitator and mentor.  In 2018, Audrey wrote and directed Calpurnia, which was produced by Nightwood Theatre and Sulong Theatre. The box office hit was shown to sold-out audiences and is being produced in Winnipeg at RMTC in the spring. She graduated from the National Theatre School and has film, tv, and stage credits that are too numerous to list!  

 Registration is limited and spots are already filling up fastThe workshop cost is only $10. You can register right now on our website, or email us at info@sarasvati.ca if you have any questions.  

Looking for Cooks in the Kitchen

Last year’s Bake-Off was a deliciously good time (pun intended). With a sold-out show featuring five incredible plays, it was a great night for everyone – especially the winner, barb janes. 

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barb janes at the 2019 Bake-Off

 This year, we’re bringing back the Bake-Off (with increased physical distancing, of course). If you’re not already familiar, the premise is simple: five playwrights will be given “ingredients” that they must include in an original sceneLast year’s ingredients were a flat tire, a “shhh” sound, and the quote “everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.” For the next eight hours, the writers are left to work on their scripts. Scenes can be anywhere from five to ten minutes long. The scenes will then be performed as a staged reading by an ensemble at FemFest 2020: Engaging Community. the playwright with the most-developed piece will win 500 dollars and dramaturgical guidance to develop a full-length one-act script, which will be read publicly at FemFest 2021. 

A huge thank you to the Manitoba Association of Playwrights and the family of Janet Taylor, who continue to sponsor the Bake-Off every year.  

Speaking of readings, barb janes’ piece, Agency, won the 2019 Bake-Off and has spent the last year being developed. The play follows three “orphan” girls from three different eras and three different countries: Louisa (a British Home Child), Annie (a sixties scoop adoptee) and Natasha (adopted from Romania). Plagued by issues of abandonment and belonging, the three friends search for their mothers, their identity and their own agency. We’re so looking forward to seeing how her play has taken shape since writing it almost one year ago! 

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Brooklyn at the 2019 Bake-Off

If we haven’t sold you on how incredible of an experience the Bake-Off is yet, revisit Brooklyn Kilfoyle’s article about her time participating in the Bake-Off as one of the five playwrights.  

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.”  Brooklyn Kilfoyle 

We are looking for women, non-binary, and trans folks to apply for the Bake-Off! Even if you don’t have any formal playwriting experience, all you need to submit is: 

  1. A letter including your full contact information (address, phone & email) and anything you want to tell us about yourself & why you’re interested in the BakeOff  
  2. A 100-word bio for yourself  
  3. A 5 – 10 page writing sample (can be a scene or monologue) in PDF format. 

Please email the above to Cairn Moore at bakeoff@sarasvati.caOtherwise, you can check out more details about the Bake-Off or other FemFest shows and readings here! 

 

The Monster in All of Us

Who are you when you don’t know who you are? That’s the question Sarah Waisvicz asks in Monstrous.

Created and performed by Waisvicz, we’re incredibly excited to be featuring Monstrous in FemFest 2020: Engaging Community. Monstrous follows the protagonist’s journey across continents, centuries, and musical genres as she sifts through the facts and fictions of her mixed-up, mixed-race family history. Integrating storytelling, multi-genre dance, music, song, projections, and audience interaction, it is a quest for roots, remembrance, and belonging; it is also a cutting, hard-hitting provocation about “multiculturalism” in Canada. Monstrous is a startling wake-up call that puts pressure on how accepting we think we are.

MonstrousPromoPhotoDoorOfNoReturnChrisSnow

Sarah is a playwright, dramaturge, and multi-disciplinary performer with training in dance and physical theatre (classical ballet, puppetry, acrobatics, stilts, West African dance styles). Her solo script to Monstrous, about the Afro-diaspora experience and mixed-race identity, was published in Alt.theatre 13.3 and the show has been performed in Montreal, Toronto, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. Sarah has been Artist-in-Residence at Great Canadian Theatre Company and at the National Arts Centre. Her most recent play Heartlines premiered to sold-out houses at Ottawa’s undercurrents festival.

“I was strongly moved by this piece — not leaving the studio with the same mindset I had upon entering… I found myself lost in thought about my background and place within this world. I felt as if I had also just explored my entire background and found a little more of myself in the process, too. If you are prepared for a deep, self-discovery performance — this play is a definite go see!” – Makinizi Hoover, Medium

MonstrousPromoPhotoPraiseGingerChrisSnowIn 2015, when Waisvicz began this project, she documented part of its development process. The full title was originally called Monstrous, or, The Miscegenation Advantage, and it was described as an “original 70-minute solo show: one woman, two races, four continents, and a suitcase full of secrets.” You can check out a video about the show’s development here.

“Waisvisc’s dynamic energy fills the minimalist set where music, projection and dance illustrate a global trek as stories, anecdotes, lies, hearsay and research are pulled from this trunk of family history.” Jennifer Cavanaugh, Apt613

In light of COVID-19, we’re excited to announce we’ll be moving forward with a virtual edition of Monstrous. Like previous reviewers, we know you’ll be moved by this show – no matter what part of the world you’re from. If you haven’t yet, be sure to watch the official Monstrous trailer and stay tuned on our website for the latest information on how to access FemFest programming.

The Tita Collective: Essential Reading

We are incredibly lucky to have the Tita Collective present their musical sketch revue hit, Tita Jokes, at this year’s FemFest. Although it may not be the usual live performance due to the current situation, it will still be hilarious and a must-see! An all-Filipina collective composed of award-winning playwrights, comedians, musicians, dancers, theatremakers and actors, the Tita Collective explores different mediums to tell the stories about the Filipinx diaspora.

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The Tita Collective

Tita Collective won the 2019 Steamwhistle Producers’ Pick at the Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival, Best Newcomer at the Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival, and the Second City Outstanding New Comedy Award.

To get you just as excited as us, we’ve gathered some interviews and videos of the Tita Collective (made up of Ann Paula Bautista, Belinda Corpuz, Isabel Kanaan, Ellie Posadas, Alia Rasul and Maricris Rivera). We highly recommend you watch and read the following and, as we get closer to FemFest, bookmark it so you can return to it again and again and again and… (you get the idea!)

Tita Collective: ‘We’re Like The Spice Girls Of Theatre,’ With A Filipino Twist
This article from the CBC tells you all the key facts about the Tita Collective and their show, from their origin story to their connection with each other.

Excerpt: “It’s a very inter-generational story. So our parents, our older aunts and uncles have come to the show . . . But even my niece and nephew who are eight and 11 years old also came to the show and they could still enjoy it and resonate with it and identify with that.”

5 Questions With… The Tita Collective
Get to know the Titas even better with this interview on comedy and Filipinx culture.

Excerpt: Filipinas of our parents’ generations are some of the bravest people out there, and there’s a lot to learn from their journeys: from making the choice to leaving their communities behind to move to a strange new place and starting a new life, having to deal with racism, classism and sexism in degrees that today is unacceptable but back then was the norm, and all of this to provide for their families and to prop the Philippine economy up. It’s time that their bravery is recognized and honoured.

FTV (Filipino TV) Exclusive Feature Tita Jokes at the 2019 Toronto Fringe Festival
This video features an interview with the Tita Collective spliced up with footage from their hilarious show.

“When we tell these stories I hear a lot of stories from people who aren’t Filipino, Filipina, or Filipinx and they’re like, ‘My sister-in-law is Filipina so I know what lumpia is,’ or, ‘I have lot of friends who are [Filipinx],’ so it just makes me feel like I’m not as invisible as I thought. This encouraged me to tell other people to tell their stories.”

#NowYouKnow YouTube Videos
#NowYouKnow is a series of videos the Tita Collective made that opens with a slide that says, “We asked titos and titas to explain a few words in Tagalog.” These short clips, featuring words like “ube” or “maganda,” are recommend by the Tita Collective to be watched before you see their show.

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Kristina Guevarra

So there you have it: essential reading (and viewing, technically) for those of you who are soon-to-be fans of the Tita Collective! Keeping in mind COVID-19 protocols, we are currently working on some additional (and very exciting!) virtual programming with them. We’re also excited to announce Kristina Guevarra, a multidisciplinary Filipinx artist, will be coordinating a panel featuring Filipinx creatives. Be sure to check out our new FemFest 2020 page to stay up to date on how each show will be uniquely executed!