Lonely Cats and Rockford Files – The Life of a Festival AD

Late Night Confession from Artistic Director Hope McIntyre
– September 8, 2014

It’s 10pm. I’m writing a blog. I have the Rockford Files theme song stuck in my head. I am surrounded by papers. Items on my task list seem to be multiplying like bunnies. When I eventually go to bed, I will remember something I forgot to do. I am the Artistic Director of a festival!

How did I end up here… I simply wanted to support female playwrights. Twelve years later, about a hundred plays, several hundred artists later and FemFest is a living being. A beautiful, crazy, awe-inspiring, incredible monster. I’m so excited to share the amazing work we’ve been creating and that we are bringing to town. Yet, the exhaustion starts to set in now that we are in tech and we get a little giddy. I pray for more time, for more tickets to be sold, for smooth performances, for a success!

Okay, here’s a snapshot of where things are at, but first why the Rockford Files – you’ll have to see The Naked Woman to find out!

IMG-20140908-00155Yes, I have resorted to writing on my hand to remember things. I’m old school.

IMG-20140908-00156 Raffle prizes waiting to be packaged. Amazing stuff collected by our Marketing and Community Outreach summer student, Molly Karp, who is now back in school. We miss her!IMG-20140908-00159Things waiting to be put away, packed up to go to the theatre…the storage/sewing/extra room in the office.IMG-20140908-00157Board member Patrick McCauley is working to confirm and coordinate with all of our fabulous volunteers!IMG-20140908-00158Welcome packages put together by our Production Assistant Erin Laforet. Out of town guests are already arriving! They’ll be surprised by the fact that it feels like winter is already coming to Winnipeg.IMG-20140908-00168My stash of tea! I’m on a chai kick right now.IMG-20140908-00160What I pulled from my untended garden at 9pm tonight.IMG-20140908-00166 IMG-20140908-00161My lonely cats.

Don’t make it all be in vain – come out and see the festival! Opening Saturday and running until September 20th. Get your tickets on-line or give us a call at 204-586-2236.

The Bake-Off is a Pressure Cooker!

Ever wonder what 8 hours to write a piece for stage might look like. How will this year’s playwrights include the ingredients of ballroom dancing, dress up and teaching in their 10-minute scripts? Here are just some of this year’s Bake-Off artists’ experience!

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TERRIE TODD

Terrie in car (3)Terrie home (3)Terrie left the meeting and was chauffeured by her husband back to Portage La Prairie so she could write on her laptop in the car. Here’s an overview in her own words:

The first photo was taken at 10:57 a.m. on the way out of the city in the rain. Second photo, 12:10 p.m. at home at my desk. Now to really get to work.

2:07 p.m. Paused for a bowl of beet borscht, hummus on rice crackers, and a pear. And tea with honey.

Now back to it. Thinking of hanging a sign on my door: “Playwright at Work. Anyone who interrupts will be subjected to a grisly and unnatural stage death and then reincarnated as a stage manager.”

5:00 p.m. I have a script. I don’t much like it. I’m going for a nap. Hopefully I’ll dream something brilliant to fix it with when I get up.

6:06. I’m up. I didn’t get any brilliant ideas for the script, but I did finally recall the last name of the young lady I saw on my way out of the theatre this morning who went to high school with my son.

Tick Tock.

You can also check out Terrie’s blog with an entry about being accepted in to the Bake-Off – http://www.terrietodd.blogspot.ca/

CAROLYN HOOPLE CREED

Carolyn Creed

Looking pretty relaxed a couple of hours in to the writing binge!

FRANCES KONCAN

Today I participated in Sarasvàti’s FemFest Bake-Off. We were given 8 hours of time, and three specific elements to incorporate in to a short play. The elements were: dress-up, teaching, and ballroom dancing. We started at 10AM and finished at 7PM, and here’s a series of instagrammed pics that fairly accurately summarize my day if you add about 50 cups of coffee and numerous breaks to check up on important news on Twitter.

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1. On the theme of dress-up, this is how I look when people see me: cute romper, horizontal stripes that say “I’m not ashamed of my body”, and bold lipstick. I went to school in New York and learned a lot about developing your own identity and aesthetic as an artist, and I think I have a little bit of style. Notice how the ribbon on my hat expertly matches my shirt. I’ve been watching a lot of French film, lately, so that’s probably why I am looking precariously close to a mime.

2. Also on the theme of dress-up, this is how I look in private: hoodies galore, no makeup, and sweatpants, sweatpants, sweatpants. This is the me that nobody ever sees except my imaginary boyfriend, Albert, a lawyer and football enthusiast who doesn’t mind watching romantic comedies on Netflix on Friday nights.

3. I always like to scribble ideas in a notebook before I do anything on my computer. I use a black moleskin notebook like all my favourite writers. It just feels more important, somehow, like you’re a member of an ancient line of terribly important people. Whenever I get stuck on some dialogue or am struggling for ideas, I grab a pencil or fun pen (the more cute and less functional the better) or sometimes even eyeliner and just start writing, or at least playing MASH until I get bored. Today I found out I’m going to live in a mansion and have 18 children.

4. Once I’m full of inspiration and ready to “do this thing”, I like to use my laptop, because I’m a super speedy typer. I once clocked 200 WPM on Type to Learn. I have a desktop computer too, but there’s nothing I love more than writing while laying on my stomach in bed while a candle dangerously and photogenically burns next to my pillow. I don’t know who let’s me be an adult and make my own choices.

5. Despite technically being a writer by profession, and director by accident, I love design more than anything, thanks to Livi Vaughn, Felix Barrett, and the whole artistic team of Punchdrunk, who taught me not only how to sew and effectively illuminate things with LED candles but how to love, and find it helpful to get all my senses working when I write. I always try to pick something that appeals to each sense. My touch object was a beaded orange and black headband. The colours made me think of Halloween, and also of cultural appropriation of Native Americans at Coachella.

6. My scent objects were an array of scents from Demeter Fragrances, especially Lavender and Vanilla Ice Cream. Lavender smells like old people, whom I always have trouble writing dialogue for because I have no idea how real human beings over the age of 30 speak, and Vanilla Ice Cream, because it smells like cake, which is something I plan to eat later in glorious sugary celebration.

7. My aural object was a lot of Bruce Springsteen, because, as Dr. Danny Castellano on The Mindy Project, which was my source of dialogue inspiration, once said, “he got us through [Hurricane] Sandy.” I also listened to a lot of The Cars, and a variety songs from the late 70’s and early 80’s. I find this kind of music helps me write for men better, for some reason. It makes me feel like a bro from Jersey.

8. My taste object was cranberry juice and vodka, and I swear that wasn’t just an excuse to drink on the job. Although the positive side to being a freelance writer is that I can choose to drink on the job and frequently do. “Hemingway did and so can I!” was my entire graduate school motto. Once I had set my play, the cranberry juice and vodka seemed like the obvious choice. You’ll see why when you come and see it.

9. My primary visual inspiration was this super hot picture of Chris Messina with a puppy in his coat that I stole from Mindy Kaling’s instagram. I need either one or both of these immensely talented people to contact me immediately so we can discuss collaborating. This wasn’t so much a conscious decision as an unconscious obsession of the past few weeks. I figured, why fight it

10. After 8 hours of writing and numerous Hours of Energy (25 to be exact, and each bottle was more delicious than the last), this is the finished product. Do you like awkward high school dances? Do you like weird, vaguely inappropriate student-teacher relationships? Do you like dancing? Do you like seeing hot adult men get moderately naked? Do you like teachable moments? Then this play might be ‘Just What [You] Needed’.

I’m so sorry for that last joke. It was unnecessary and I’m trying too hard. I’ve been awake for a really long time. Anyway, I dedicate this play to Chris Messina, Vodka, and my professor Mac Wellman, who always encouraged me to be myself, even if that meant not knowing how to spell, having a tenuous grasp of grammar, and using emojii’s in real life conversations. Come check out all the plays of me and the four other amazing playwrights on Monday, September 15th!

Prose writing, jazz singing and belly dancing in our FemFest Cabarets!

A showcase of new talent, creative masterminds and artistic expression that extend beyond the realm of theatre—the FemFest cabarets are always a festival favourite. This year, our lineup of Opening and Closing Cabaret contributors is stronger than ever – and it’s not just because our festival theme is She’s Got The Power. We are very fortunate to have such a diverse group of musician, actors, visual artists, and more who will showcase their original art on September 13th and 20th at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. As with almost all of our FemFest events, the Cabarets are only $10.00. But there are so many more reasons than just affordability to attend both of these exciting evenings…

Bizarro Obscure

Bizarro Obscure

Last year the wonderful Susan Tymofichuk of CTV Winnipeg hosted our Opening Cabaret. Susan did such a great job that we asked her to host again this year! In fact Susan’s been keeping the action packed evening moving for us for several years. At the other end of things, the hosts of our Closing Cabaret are new to the FemFest scene. Janis and Jujube of Bizarro Obscure—a five star-rated production at this year’s Fringe Festival, are sure to bring their quirky, eccentric presence to the hosting of our Closing Cabaret! We couldn’t be more excited about the super women that have agreed to facilitate these two talent showcases.

Prairie Caravan

Prairie Caravan

Within the Cabaret lineups, audiences will have the opportunity to experience a diverse range of visual art presented by local talents Alison Moore, Pamela Hadder, Janice Kenworthy and Debbie Schon. Continuing on the visual side of things, this year’s cabarets will include the work of female filmmakers Antosia Fiedur and Ali Tataryn and an all-female dance troupe, Prairie Caravan, who will liven up the Opening Cabaret with tribal belly dancing.

Melanie Dahling

Melanie Dahling

 

Melanie Dahling returns with her comic stylings, Teresa-Lee Cooke is back with her wonderful prose writing and you do not want to miss a special musical performance by Tiffany Ponce! Opening will also be your opportunity to see a sneak peek of what will take place during the rest of FemFest as both The Naked Women and Launched will be previewed. During the Closing Cabaret, Comedian and burlesque dancer, Heather Witherden will treat us to a hilarious dose of provocative stand-up. Of course we have not forgotten our tradition of featuring dance and Alexandra Elliot will join us hot off the heels of her Fringe hit, Adi Sara Kreindler is back by popular demand and you do not want to miss the antics of the Talentless Lumps!

The Talentless Lumps

The Talentless Lumps

There are so many enticing components of our Opening and Closing Cabarets that you will have to visit our website, www.femfest.ca for all the details. Leave a comment below letting us know what Cabaret act you can’t wait to see. We hope to see you there!

Inspirational, Heartwarming, Tragic—A FemFest production not to be missed

River is one of the more emotionally compelling stories at this year’s FemFest. We are honoured that River playwright, Rubena Sinha was willing to share the story behind the tragic yet heartwarming journey that inspired her writing process.

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Rubena Sinha

I am thrilled and honoured to be invited to share River at FemFest 2014 with musician and dear friend, Phoebe Man.

One day my daughter came home and said, Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson are collecting stories for the third volume of their anthology Dropped Threads, and would I like to write something for it?

At that time my husband was very ill. We had him at home, and I was with him all the time. That’s when I started thinking…so many years I have lived in Canada…I asked myself, what hashappened to me through this life?

I was very young when I came here, leaving my parents behind was a tremendous shock. I had to learn a new language, how to walk in the snow and most importantly, be independent in a way I had never been before. It was the first time I realized what freedom really means.

I found a home in the dance community in Winnipeg. Through them I was able to express my trueself; dance doesn’t need words. I also learned that no matter how far from your family you are, you bring something of them in you. That something was courage.

I didn’t know then how much I would need that courage later in my life. As I thought about my story, I realized how much courage I had drawn from…to live through the loss of my parents, my daughter’s rape and the suffering it brought my family and, how at that very moment, I was facing the loss of my husband.

That was six years ago. This piece, River, is the story of a search.

To find ourselves, we had to search within ourselves; and I found comfort and wisdom in the stories that came from the Mahabharata, from folklore… and my grandmother. River is also drawn from love. When death came we had to let him go, but in that letting go, we found strength in taking care of each other and in how much we loved him. Though River is the story of my journey, it is mine only in the details. It belongs to you in every way, as together we look for meaning where sometimes there is none, and face the things we all have to one day.

I can’t say I have found peace, but I can say I believe in it. I offer you River, with love.

Phoebe Man

Phoebe Man

River was developed with the assistance of the OAC’s word of Mouth grant and was presented at the Toronto Festival of Storytelling in 2009 and the Carol Shields Symposium in Winnipeg last year.

You can catch River at FemFest on September 16th at 7 PM, September 18th at 2:30 PM and September 20th at 3 PM. Book your tickets now: www.femfest.ca

 

Who knew you could be conceived 8 different ways!

We are excited to welcome Michaela Di Cesare to FemFest this year! She completed her Master’s Degree at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and is a recipient of a MECCA award for Best Text (along with a Best Actress and Revelation nomination) and the Launchpad Award for Emerging Artists. She is a celebrated performer as well as having been recognized for her writing. We asked her to talk about the show for our blog readers!

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8 Ways my Mother was Conceived has been a journey unlike any other in my life. This little show has taken me places (both geographically and artistically) that I would not have imagined when I first began to write it. Like many other stories of self-8 Waysdiscovery, the embryo for this particular play was fertilized in a moment of crisis. At a time when everything I thought I believed and everything I believed defined me as a young woman was challenged, I locked myself in my room and wrote the first draft of 8 Ways in 2 weeks. That draft was terrible, but necessary—much like the pain I was going through at the time. You see, the event I believed to be a crisis at the time was that my first (“and better-be-last”) boyfriend had proposed marriage and then took it back. This is something that does not go over lightly in a family of Italian immigrants.

Here is a synopsis of the play:

In order to cure herself of the Virgin Complex sabotaging her love life, a young woman must face her eccentric Italian family and disprove their belief that her mother was conceived à la Jesus Christ (sans sex). Her quest for the truth takes her from the gynecologist’s office, to a clairvoyant, to her estranged and mysterious great-grandmother in Southern Italy.

Promo2I have toured this show for over 3 years now and each time the show travels, I can feel it evolving and I can feel myself maturing. At first, I felt a certain shame in performing the show. I found myself using judgmental words like “ranting” and “complaining” to describe my actions as the protagonist. I performed with an assumption that no one but myself cared about the subject matter of the show. That was my show in its adolescent stage. Ironically, an adolescent girl changed my outlook. I had been invited to perform at a Woman’s Day event and among the invited guests were young women from a local women’s shelter for refugees. When I found out, I went into a panic worrying that these women would interpret my comical show as “a privileged rant” compared to the real injustices they had been through. After my performance, a 16-year-old Afghan girl came up to me and thanked me for “talking about the things [her] community doesn’t feel comfortable talking about yet.” That conversation forced me to take myself more seriously and allowed the show to mature. The last run of 8 Ways prior to FemFest was a special run for high schools in the neighborhood I grew up in. It felt like coming home again, familiar yet grown up. I had many interesting discussions with the youth in my talkback session. The action words I use now are more along the lines of “exploring”, “healing” and “growing.”

I look forward to the exploration, healing and growth that will undoubtedly occur when 8 Ways comes to Winnipeg.

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