Eight Days of Life-Changing Theatre

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Let the countdown begin! In less than two days we’ll be taking over the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (The University of Winnipeg) to showcase the best in Canadian theatre by women for everyone. You bet we are beyond excited for FemFest 2016: Transformation!

Featuring everything from the real-life struggles of a trans* poet, the inner battle of a woman’s mind, a clown-duo’s growing pains, to the damaging treatment of young girls; FemFest 2016 is jam-packed with plays that celebrate unfaltering female strength and power. Our 14th annual festival is guaranteed to captivate and take you on an emotional journey! Here’s the festival breakdown to help you plan your FemFest filled week!

Playwright Reading by Sherry MacDonald
Sept. 16, 1pm. John J. Conklin Theatre (University of Manitoba)
Sherry MacDonald will be presenting a free public reading from her work. This is your opportunity to hear from the celebrated professional playwright from Vancouver and ask questions!

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The Seduction Theory
Photo: Janet Shum

The Seduction Theory by Sherry MacDonald
Sept. 17th – 24th – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Find out the fate of a 15-year old in the 1950s when she becomes too much to handle at home. This powerful drama delves into our society’s criminalization and sexual exploitation of young underprivileged girls. The Seduction Theory was the winner of the FemFest 2015 Bake-Off and the 2016 Special Merit Award from the Theatre BC Playwriting competition.

Opening Cabaret and Reception
Sept. 17th, 7pm – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Hosted by Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Lara Rae, the Opening Night Cabaret is our annual variety show showcasing some of Winnipeg’s best female artists in theatre, film, music, visual arts and dance. It wouldn’t be a party without food and beverages! The cabaret includes dinner by Garbonzo’s U of Winnipeg AnX, dessert by Baked Expectations, wine from Banville & Jones Wine Co. and coffee from Starbucks.

Bake-Off
Sept. 19th, 7 pm – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Coordinated and directed by Cairn Moore – In partnership with the Manitoba Association of Playwrights. We challenged five selected playwrights with three “must-have” ingredients and eight hours to cook up their own ten-minute theatrical treats! With this year’s ingredients of “duct tape, unbridled passion, and class,” you won’t want to miss what these young emerging playwrights came up with.

SHORTS
Sept. 19th – 24th, 8:15pm – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Special SHORTs Showcase – Sept. 24th, 3pm – Garbonzo’s (U of Winnipeg AnX)
Every night at 8:15pm, audiences can treat themselves to a staged reading of a SHORT from the Shortlist. These ten-minute excerpts/scenes will be presented in between the evening’s 7pm and 9pm shows. With 9 selected shorts, each night will be different. New this year is the SHORTs showcase. On Sept. 24th at 3 pm, audiences can see all nine shorts at once at Garbonzo’s.

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Morro and Jasp Do Puberty
Sept. 20th-22nd

Morro and Jasp Do Puberty by Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee
Sept. 20th – 22nd – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Clown sisters Morro and Jasp hilariously take you through the trials and tribulations of growing up! From uncontrollable emotions and raging hormones to the pain and strain of bodily functions, the smash hit is sure to induce some side-splitting laughter!

 

Mouthpiece by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava
Sept 21st – 23rd – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Interweaving a cappella harmonies, dissonance, text and physicality, Mouthpiece expresses the emotional conflict that exists within a woman’s head: the push and the pull, the past and the present, the progress and the regression.

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Miss Understood
Sept. 22nd – 24th

Miss Understood by Antonette Rea
Sept. 22nd – 24th – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Vancouver’s spoken-word poet and activist, Antonette Rea is a survivor. Having lived through horrific experiences of marginalization and abuse as a trans* person, Rea has turned that pain into a beautiful eye-opening piece about struggle, triumph and compassion. Miss Understood is a theatrical poem based on her incredible life story.

Poetry Reading by Antonette Rea
Sept. 24, 1pm – Bison Books (424 Graham Ave.)
Antonette Rea will be doing a free public reading at Bison Books. The celebrated trans* woman street poet will read from her collection of works. Her words are powerful and her personality brings life to every word. This is a unique chance to hear her in Winnipeg.

Grab your tickets to FemFest 2016: Transformation at femfest.ca or by calling 204-586-2236. Tickets are selling fast, so get yours early! Subscription packages are also available and include passes to FemFest 2016 and tickets to the rest of the exciting Sarasvati Productions 2016/17 Season!

Love, Money & the Invention of Duct Tape

Duct tape, unbridled passion and class – these are the magic ingredients of the FemFest 2016 Bake-Off.

The annual fan-favourite challenge put five brave playwrights in a race against their own creativity and the clock. With three “must-have” ingredients and eight hours, these playwrights cooked up their own ten-minute theatrical treat!

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“…You want to dress for comfort so you can focus on writing, but also dress to impress in case a writing agent or an oil tycoon from Saudi Arabia walks by!” – Frances Koncan, #LiveAtTheBakeOff

On August 19th, the five selected playwrights met with director Cairn Moore for the official unveiling of the Bake-Off 2016 ingredients and began their Bake-Off challenge. Throughout the day the playwrights kept followers posted on Facebook and Twitter with #LiveAtTheBakeOff. These posts included hilarious tips and updates on their process.

Now the writing is done and audiences can enjoy staged readings of these scenes on September 19 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.

Even more exciting, viewers cast their vote for the Bake-Off Audience Choice. The winning playwright receives the Janet Taylor Bake-Off Award of $500 and the highly coveted opportunity to have a reading of their full script at FemFest 2017! How’s that for a prize?

We are excited to present this year’s Bake-Off playwrights and their imaginative scenes:

Angie St. Mars, She’s All Dead – An emerging playwright, director, comedian, performer and Apprentice Dramaturge at the Manitoba Association of Playwrights, Angie received her B.A with a Double Major in Politics and Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg. She has recently emerged on the Winnipeg comedy scene as a core member of Winnipeg Sketch Comedy groups Free Snacks and President Bear. You bet her Bake-Off piece about the struggles of a female ghost will exude a slice of her humour.

Frances Koncan, Duct Tape Terrace – The Anishinaabe writer, director, and producer studied at the University of Manitoba with a BA Psychology and the City University of New York Brooklyn College with a MFA in Playwriting. The 2016 Harry Rintoul Award recipient for Best New Play at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and shortlisted for the 2016 Tarragon Emerging Playwrights Award, Frances is definitely making waves in Canadian Theatre. Her Bake-Off scene takes hilarious elements of current pop-culture and peppers it into this piece about haunted love.

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Bake-Off 2016 Playwrights: Wren Brian, Gislina Patterson, Angie St. Mars & Frances Koncan

Gislina Patterson, Coffee – A theatre performer and producer for the past ten years, Gislina has recently begun work as a writer, director, and performance artist. With a diverse set of training in clown, devised theatre, physical theatre, and performance art, she melds these elements into her Bake-Off drama, Coffee.

Jessy Ardern, Kit & Joe – Jessy is an actor, playwright, co-Artistic Director of The Struts and Frets Players and two-time winner of the Harry S. Rintoul Award for best new Manitoba play at the Winnipeg Fringe. She recently completed her BFA in acting at the University of Alberta, and has now brought her talents to the Bake-Off challenge with Kit & Joe.

wrenbake-off-tweet-2016Wren Brian, From The Depths – A graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre & Film Honours Program, Wren began her theatre career as an actor and stage manager. She has now transitioned into playwriting, directing, and producing. Her work is focused on contributing to equity in theatre by creating unique characters that can be played by any gender, ethnicity, and age. She continues this mission with her thought-provoking scene, From The Depths.

Catch the staged-readings of FemFest 2016 Bake-Off on September 19th, at 7 pm. Scenes will be performed by the talented Bake-Off cast: Ian Bastin, Jane Burpee, Andres Collantes, Nan Fewchuk and Spenser Payne. For tickets visit, femfest.ca or call 204-586-2236.

The Battle Between Her Head and Her Heart

Take a look into the mind of a woman. See the intricate and endless sea of thoughts, the swirls of brilliant ideas, the storms of emotion and the boundless inner strength.

mouthpiece2With their play Mouthpiece, creators/performers Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava (Quote Unquote Collective) perfectly encapsulate the beautiful whirlwind that lives inside our heads.

Presenting Mouthpiece at FemFest 2016: Transformation, Amy and Norah take us through their inspiration and the importance of seeing the show.

What were your inspirations for the play?
When we started creating Mouthpiece, we had set out looking for an authentic representation of what it was like to be a woman, right now, today. And, when we couldn’t find one, we decided to make this play. Mouthpiece tries to capture what it’s like inside our heads. The myriad of emotions, the epic canon of things we’ve never said, of things we’ve never done, or things we have done and now look back on and ask – why did I do that? Why did I say that? The inner struggle, the beautiful rage, the ugly truth, the propagation of bullshit, the strength, the cognitive dissonance…Mouthpiece is a deep investigation into our own selves. What is left after we strip away the influences and the lies, the privilege and the pressure?

In the show we play two sides (and by two sides I mean a fraction of the innumerable sides) of one woman’s head. We felt it was necessary to use two performers because, well, one wasn’t enough. There’s too much going on in there. Describing what it’s like to be a woman needs more than one woman as it turns out. Much of the play is sung a cappella because as we also discovered, words are sometimes not enough. Song and melody allow us to harness the muzzled voices of women who came before us. We sing, wail, chant, hum, and scream along with them.

This play leaves us naked, vulnerable, and exposed and it can be terrifying. We are very excited to bring it to Winnipeg.

Why are you excited to be in FemFest this year and why do you think Winnipeg audiences should see the production?
We have been touring with Mouthpiece for almost a year now, and in every tour stop the response is a little different.

Audiences react and respond in diverse ways to different parts of the show depending on their own experience, background or mood at the time. It is a densely layered play, so people pick up different themes or narrative threads. Many audience members return for a second or third viewing and seem to make new discoveries every time.

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Photo Credit: Joel Clifton

We love arriving in a new town and knowing that there is absolutely no guarantee about what kind of response we will get. Raucous laughter, sobbing, or silent attention, we have had it all. Additionally, neither of us have ever visited Winnipeg before so we really have no idea what to expect. Walking into that unknown is equally terrifying and exciting for us.

In the context of FemFest, it is thrilling to know that we will be surrounded by a population of other powerful female artists. This is a rare and special thing, an all-female festival with a mandate to promote social change.  It is a dream to be in the company of a group of people who are all on board to create the kind of change that we aim to work towards every day.

We hope, however, that we won’t just be preaching to the choir, but that those people will invite their friends and family who may not already be a part of the converted. It is important to us that the ideas of gender equality and women’s rights don’t remain siloed inside of a specific community, but can expand to the minds of those people who may not think about it on a regular basis.

We look forward to meeting you all at FemFest!

Catch Mouthpiece at FemFest 2016: Transformation at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film from September 17 to 24. For tickets and information, visit femfest.ca

Not For the Faint of Heart

Five female playwrights; three distinct elements; eight exhilarating hours; only one winning scene – this is the annual FemFest Bake-Off.

On August 19, the FemFest 2016 Bake-Off will challenge a group of emerging and established playwrights with three must-have ‘ingredients’ for a scene. These ingredients can range from the normal (ballroom dancing) to the downright obscure (yellow submarine). With only eight hours from start to finish, Bake-Off writers must use every ounce of their creativity to come up with this year’s Bake-Off audience choice! Up for grabs is a $500 cash prize and a chance to have a reading of their full script at FemFest 2017.

Each scene will have a staged reading before a live audience on September 19 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Based on this viewers vote for their favourite piece. Helping to bring these scenes to the stage, is this year`s team of brave actors:

Ian Bastin – Bastin’s credits include various roles on stage – Lion in the Streets, The Aristocrats (Black Hole Theatre), public reading of Breaking Through (Sarasvàti) – as well as on screen, Steel and Stilettos and The Pinkertons (Buffalo Gal Pictures). Aside from acting, Bastin will bring a list of skills to the Bake-Off cast, like classical guitar, dialects and even stage combat, making him ready for anything the playwrights throw at him.

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Jane in IWW: Cabaret of Monologues – Urban Nun

Jane Burpee –Having performed in several Sarasvàti produced plays like Fen, International Women`s Week Cabaret of Monologues, and Quite an Undertaking, Burpee is no stranger to the Sarasvàti stage. As a performer in FemFest 2012 and 2014’s Bake-Off, she`ll return to this year`s competition ready to take on whatever exciting roles the playwrights throw at her.

Andres Collantes – His first time as part of the Sarasvàti family, we are excited to welcome Collantes to the Bake-Off ensemble. He was discovered by director Cairn Moore in her Intro Performance class at the University of Winnipeg last year.

Nan Fewchuk - HeadshotNan Fewchuk – Always excited about working with Sarasvàti in any capacity she can, Fewchuk has worked both on stage and behind the scenes. Most recently she assistant directed, Jail Baby, and played multiple roles in the public readings of Breaking Through. Other past credits include Fefu and Her Friends and The Naked Woman with Sarasvàti, Beauty and The Beast at Rainbow Stage, The Merry Wives of Windsor at Shakespeare in the Ruins, and she produced and performed in the Winnipeg Fringe Hit, Dog Act.

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Spenser Payne – As Sarasvàti Producitons’ June 2016 Rising Star and one half of clown duo, The Red Nose Diaries, we are excited to have Payne performing in this year`s Bake-off. A graduate of the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Fine Arts acting program, and a founding member of both Sweet and Salty Collective and The Talentless Lumps, Payne will be bringing her enthusiasm and comedic offerings to the Bake-Off cast.

If you’d like to see these multi-talented actors bring your work to life, there is still time to apply for the FemFest 2016 Bake-Off. Grab the bull by the horns (in this case, the computer by the mouse and click here) and apply. The deadline for applications is August 8.

As challenging as the competition may be, it might just be the motivation and inspiration you need to get that scene out of your head and onto the stage! If that’s not enough to sweeten the pot, the Bake-Off winner will receive the Janet Taylor Bake–Off Award of $500. Need we say more?

Performances of FemFest 2016 Bake-Off takes place September 19 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Tickets are available at femfest.ca or by calling 204-586-2236.

Stories of Metamorphosis and the Art of Starting Over

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Cotton candy liquid nitrogen cocktails and a cupcake making station! Transformative theatre, sugar and science! Sounds amazing doesn’t it? We are excited to present Transformation: Sarasvàti Productions 2016/17 Season Launch. There is so much going on in the world of Sarasvàti Productions for us to talk about. From our annual theatre festival of life-changing plays by women for everyone, to an eye-opening project featuring Canadian newcomers and their inspiring stories. Join us at The List – Winnipeg’s newest supper club, on Friday, August 5, 2016. We’ll be taking over the restaurant to give you a sneak peek of our enthralling new season of transformative theatre. Plus it’s part of First Fridays in the Exchange so you can check out an array of offerings before and after!

If you need more convincing, our Associate Producer Angie St. Mars gives you Top 6 reasons to support Sarasvàti this season.

  • Celebrate personal growth – This season’s theme is ‘transformation’ and highlights the beauty in change and starting over. 2016/17 focuses on personal growth and both the joy and pain that comes with it. Kicking off the season is FemFest 2016 featuring the emotional story of one woman’s journey from a husband and father, to becoming a powerful transgender spoken-word poet.
  • See the world through a new perspective – We’ll be announcing a new initiative that will be launched as part of our 2017 Cabaret of Monologues.
  • Help end stigma – After two years of gathering stories from the community we will be announcing the culmination of our mental health project.
  • Support local emerging artists – One of the most rewarding parts of this job is designing workshops for emerging theatre artists. As someone who fits into this category, I appreciate Sarasvàti’s desire to provide opportunities for artists to develop both artistic and business skills for low to no cost. I am especially excited to announce what we’ll be offering this year for emerging artists in all areas of theatre!
  • Promote diversity in theatre – Sarasvàti is dedicated to creating opportunities for diverse theatre artists and promoting equity in Canadian theatre. This season will provide various performance, showcase and training opportunities for diverse emerging and established artists.
  • Make theatre accessible – As part of Sarasvàti’s mission to make theatre accessible for all, we will be presenting plays at a number of new and unique venues. I am looking forward to taking transformative theatre into the community and engaging with new faces. It is pure joy to be able to collaborate with amazing people and community groups to promote human understanding. It is humbling and inspiring to be part of the drive to make Winnipeg an increasingly inclusive, vibrant city.

To learn more about Sarasvàti Productions 2016/17 Season, join us on August 5, 2016 at 7 pm at The List – 216 McDermot Ave. The event will feature more information on our upcoming projects, a free Cupcake Decorating Station sponsored by Cake-ology, and a special Transformation themed cocktail (that’s where the cotton candy liquid nitrogen comes in) created by the fantastic mixologists of The List. The event is free so be sure to pop in and show your support for Sarasvàti Productions.