FemFest Celebrates 15 Years!

Our beloved festival in support of women playwrights turns 15 this year! We are celebrating with the theme Coming of Age and a line-up that will blow you away.

We are ecstatic to be bringing in one of the most highly regarded playwright’s in Canadian history, two-time Governor General award-winning playwright Judith Thompson!  Thompson will join us for Mulgrave Road Theatre’s production of her play Watching Glory Die,  a harrowing play based on the true story of Ashley Smith. She will also teach a playwriting master class (September 20, 21 and 22 from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.) give a Real Thing lecture and be part of the Human Library ™.

Tomboy Survival Guide is a live stage experience that defies genre and gender boxes with fearless truth-telling and compassionate defiance. Ivan Coyote and an all-tomboy band take the audience on a musical journey navigating the narrow halls of public washrooms, skirting the childhood threat of being picked to be a flower girl, triumphing over tying a double Windsor knot, and discovering the beauty in being handsome, not pretty, all along. This is also our first time taking FemFest to the West End Cultural Centre!

We focus our in-house attention on producing Two Indians by Falen Johnson directed by Sonya Ballantyne. After years apart two cousins meet in a Toronto alley to recreate a ceremony from their childhood, but can they remember how? When the words missing and murdered, truth and reconciliation, occupation and resistance are everywhere, how do two Mohawk women stand their ground?

We’ll share a workshop preview of New Beginnings, a work in development created with the Winnipeg newcomer and refugee community.  Come and see a preview of this exciting culmination of story and dance from around the world.
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As a company dedicated to transforming society through theatre, we’ve witnessed the impact  that story-sharing can have on breaking down stereotypes and prejudices. This year we are thrilled to present a Human Library ™ as part of FemFest.  In partnership with the Millennium Library, Sarasvàti Productions has curated an incredible line up of Human Books that you can ‘take out’ for a one-of-a-kind learning experience.

Bake off 2016The beloved Bake-Off is back! This FemFest favourite challenges 5 local female playwrights to write a scene in 8-hours using three key top-secret ingredients. Scenes will be performed as part of the Festival on Sept. 18.
Winner of the FemFest 2016 Bake-Off, Jessy Ardern presents a reading of her play in progress, Kit and Joe.

WebFor ages 6 and up, Castlemoon Theatre presents Grounded Heroes. 10 year old Jess loves Lego, but her friends think it’s childish and weird. While researching a class assignment, Jess encounters three girls from history who were also a little bit weird for their time, and together they discover what it means to be true to yourself.

And you definitely won’t want to miss our closing night! This season, we brought our classic One Night Stand play reading series back with a vengeance. In honour of Winnipeg’s own celebrated female playwrights we’re curating a special One Night Stand dedicated to showcasing works in progress by some of these prolific writers who will be joined by Judith Thompson.

Workshops, readings and a dynamite Opening Cabaret will be a staple again this year. Get your passes now and celebrate 15 years of FemFest!

Our Next One Night Stand is a Fringe Frenzy!

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6364_PTE_Carol.Shields_PlayItForward_Horizontal_ColourOne Night Stand Series Producer Tatiana Carnevale has curated an action-packed afternoon of playreadings as part of the Carol Shields Festival of New Works. This special Fringe Frenzy edition features preview readings of six new plays from local companies who will be premiering these works at the 2017 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Here’s a peek at what the event has in store.

Anomie by Wren Brian
Presented by Downside Up Productions
Directed by Eric Rae
Performed by Victoria Hill & Eric Rae 

When everything is taken away, what’s left?Anomie_ONS3

Two people struggle against each other and the empty space they’re trapped in to find a way out.  Not knowing how or why they ended up in an “abyss”, the two search for meaning and understanding in their existence and in their relationship. Riffing on absurdism and existentialism (and not without a dash of humour), this play explores how we deny and deal with meaninglessness.

Harper & Row by Rebekah Enns and Sarah Flynn
Presented by Naked Theatre productions
Naked Theatre ProductionsDear Universe,
Did you know the pen is mightier than the sword? We’ve been trying to figure out what that means. Could you send us a sign, or at least some more peaches?
Signed, Harper & Row

Naked Theatre presents an original piece about two girls just trying to figure it all out. With pens as their defense against the world, all they need now is an envelope, a stamp and someone to write back.

Riot Resist Revolt Repeat by Frances Koncan
Presented by Vault Projects
Directed by Frances Koncan
Performed by Melanee Deschambeault, Sandy Klowak, Frances Koncan, Eric Rae, Karmelle Spence-Sing, and Erica Wilson

In the near-future, in a city surrounded by walls and a world where water is scarce and a Riot Resist_ONS3luxury available only to the very rich, a Revolution is beginning. Iskwe, a young Cree woman, is struggling with bipolar disorder. Her current state of depression is further complicated by the loss of sister, who went missing one year ago. While being treated in a hospital run by a white supremacist Doctor, Iskwe meets two new friends who believe her to be her sister – the missing leader of the Revolution. Together, they embark on a journey to find her missing sister and destroy the Wall that keeps them from their sacred lands, but a mysterious person known only as The Gatekeeper has other plans. As Iskwe’s mental health continues to deteriorate under discriminatory, colonial treatment methods, the boundaries between the world of the Wall and the world of the Hospital begin to disintegrate, leaving her more confused than ever… and more powerful.

(Un)Happy Medium by Heather Madill
Presented by Kiss the Giraffe Productions
Directed by Alan Mackenzie
Performed by Heather Madill, Kami Desilets, Joseph Aragon

Madill_ONS3“I’ve got two lousy roommates. They don’t pay rent, they don’t clean up, and they’re so loud I can’t hear my own thoughts. One keeps me always on edge, the other sucks my will to live. But I can’t evict them, so I’ve got to make this work somehow. I swear they’re real, but most people don’t believe these jerks can possibly exist, so I don’t usually talk about them. But today… I’m gonna have to make an exception.”

Inertia by Gislina Patterson, Davis Plett, Angelica Schwartz, and Erin Meagan Schwartz
Presented by Happy Accidents

Inertia is an experimental theatre piece devised by a collective of intermedia artists. inertia squareDeviating from narrative-lead performance, Inertia is a mediation on haunting, magic, semiconscious inheritances and predators. The collective is made up of Gislina Patterson (writer and theatre artist), Davis Plett (cultural studies academic, poet, director, musician and technical wizard), Angelica Schwartz (director, Studio58 production grad) and Erin Meagan Schwartz (improviser, theatre artist, gender studies scholar, and activist). The collective aims to deconstruct the hierarchy of theatre production and creation, queering theatre tech by attacking heteronormativity in the community and canon. Inertia draws on Shakespeare, in-yer-face theatre, and clowns.

Filter This by Craig Terlson and Reba Terlson
Presented by It’s All Relative Productions
Directed by Kaeleigh Ayre
Performed by Reba Terlson, Sam McLean, Jesse Nobess

Filter This_ONS3Olivia and Dan come from two different worlds. Olivia lives on social media, documenting every moment of her life. Dan lives without a cell phone, or anything that distracts him from being present. A chance meeting at a park, has the two wonder if they could live in each other’s world, and find a deeper connection. Along for the ride is their friend the meme, who tweets, snaps and instagrams their lives. Filter This is a comedy that asks do opposites attract? And if so, must they tweet about it?

Catch readings from each of these enticing new plays on May 13 at 3:30pm at Prairie Theatre Exchange, 3rd Floor Portage Place. Free admission. Enjoy the 2017 Carol Shields Festival of New Works!

Take A Bow!

Spectacular! Fun! Powerful! Remarkable!

These are just a few of the words audiences have used to describe FemFest 2016: Transformation!

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The Seduction Theory Cast, Playwright Sherry MacDonald and Director, Hope McIntyre

This year’s collection of amazing works included the world premiere of The Seduction Theory by Sherry MacDonald. The all-star cast – comprised of Hailley Rhoda, Hannah Wigglesworth, Grant Burr and Merri-Lou Paterson – brought to life the moving story of 15-year-old Cass as she tries to break out of a system that shames and silences young girls. Sherry received a slew of great feedback from a special talkback after the opening show, which she’ll take into her planned expansion of the play.

The Opening Night Cabaret presented an array of diverse local talent including improv master Robyn Slade, indigenous filmmaker Sonya Ballantyne, Alissa Watson and Spenser Payne of Red Nose Diaries and many more! A huge thank you to our Cabaret sponsors, Garbonzo’s University of Winnipeg AnX, Baked Expectations & Banville & Jones for providing our packed-house with delicious food, dessert and beverages!

Morro & Jasp Do Puberty gave FemFest goers side-splitting laughter with the hilarious take on puberty and periods! The clown duo also mentored a handful of local artists with their Impulse & Play: Discovering your Inner Clown workshop and The Real Thing Lecture presented in partnership with the University of Winnipeg Department of Theatre and Film.

The annual fan-favourite Bake-Off was a hit, with its mixture of dramatic, heartbreaking and comical pieces. This year’s five emerging playwrights stretched their writing chops with Jessy Ardern ultimately winning Audience Choice and the Janet Taylor Award! She’ll have a chance to have her winning scene, Kit & Joe, developed for FemFest 2017!

Featuring fantastic movement and vocal performances along with amazing on-stage chemistry, Mouthpiece received standing ovations for its beautiful piece of trauma, triumph and will power.

Shocking, raw and scarily honest, audiences were also moved to tears by the frank theatre company theatrical poem Miss Understood by Antonette Rea. FemFest’s first trans* artist charmed her audiences and brought forth an important message about gender equality to Winnipeg.

SHORTs from the Shortlist provided extra entertainment every night. New this year was the SHORTs Showcase, featuring all nine chosen pieces. The staged readings took place at Garbonzo’s University of Winnipeg AnX who donated their space for the private SHORTs party!

All and all, FemFest 2016 was a blast! With a line-up brimming with so much talent, and lovely engaging audiences every night, FemFest and Canadian Theatre keeps getting better and better every year! We’re exciting to see what FemFest 2017 will have in store – it is our 15th anniversary afterall! If you are an artist wanting to get involved check out the call for submissions.

Shorts Earn a Showcase!

SHORTS from the Shortlist at FemFest 2016
Review by Meg Crane

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The FemFest Shorts team

If you happened to catch the Shorts, then you’re probably rearranging your schedule to see the full readings on Sept. 24 at Garbonzos.

 

Without props, complete memorization of lines or even a stage, the actors draw the audience into the stories and leaving everyone laughing and gasping throughout the 10 minute performances. In moments, they’re able to build up suspense and captivate the small classroom full of people.

A by donation show, you’ve got nothing to lose by checking it out. Expect your Saturday afternoon plans.


You can catch shorts as fillers for the remaining nights of FemFest. Solo Journeys by Kirsten Van Ritzen and Saudade by Frances Koncan will be read on September 23rd at 8:15pm, entry by donation; and September 24th at 8:15pm will feature The Living Library by Linda McCready. This year for the first time a Shorts Showcase is also being offered so audiences can see all nine pieces! To make it truly a celebration it will be hosted at Garbonzo’s Pizza Pub so you can order a drink and food to accompany the entertainment. The full showcase is $15 a ticket and takes place on September 24th at 3pm at Garbonzo’s in the U of W AnX. Click for details!

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.

Ten Minutes of Theatrical Treasures

The exploration of big dreams, a secret mission, and a “grim dream-world where women transform into badass anti-heroines,” these are just a few of the exciting stories featured in FemFest 2016 SHORTs from The Short-List.

Shorts Fem15 (8)At 8:15 pm every night from September 19th to the 24th, audiences can treat themselves to a reading of a 10-minute play or excerpts from works by women playwrights from across Canada.

We are proud to present this year’s amazing line-up of SHORTs:

September 19 Vagilantes by Ronit Rubinstein –Vagilantes is the story of women regaining their power against street harassers.

September 20 Dried Flowers by Maryjane Cruise – Award-winning playwright, lyricist and choral composer, Maryjane Cruise explores three women who each find themselves at a crucial turning point in their lives.

September 21Peace We Often Forfeit by Terrie Todd – Terrie Todd’s Peace We Often Forfeit follows Doris and her family. Their family bond and care are tested when a near tragedy takes place.Shorts Fem15 (7)

The Roomie by Emily Muller – In The Roomie, award-winning poet, Emily Muller, presents the kindness, femininity and self-doubt that can be found in all of us, even perpetrators of political violence.

September 22Our Golden Years by Sally Stubbs –What does it mean to build a life together? Our Golden Years is a dark comedy about the evolution of love and marriage.

The Funeral Guest by Tyler Joy White – After the death of her husband, Iris is forced to move to the city with her daughter Amy. The move does not make their lives better.

September 23Solo Journeys by Kirsten Van Ritzen – Actor/playwright Kirsten Van Ritzen lovingly mock clichés found in one-woman shows.

Saudade by Frances Koncan –Inspired by her personal experience, Koncan’s Saudade reflects our society’s perception of mental illness and those in care.

September 24, 8:15pmThe Living Library by Linda McCready – Young, enthusiastic Sylvia, is lost in the endless options of careers. A comedic look at the struggles that almost every 20-something can relate to.Fem12 Jordan Hall reading

September 24, 3pm – Full SHORTs Showcase – With a list of such amazing pieces, it would be hard to pick just one or two to see, but don’t fear! This year we’ve added a special Full SHORTs Showcase. On September 24 at 3pm, audiences can catch all nine plays in one show.

All pieces will be read by our talented ensemble of actors – Johanna Burdon, Melanee Deschambeault, Kim Kakegamic, Kevin Longfield and Cheryl Soluk. SHORTs is directed by recent Harry Rintoul Award winner, Frances Koncan.

Click here for more information and tickets.

 

Poetry, Clowns and Dance, oh my!

Fem-Fest-Logo-4c-Pink_2016From the kooky and embarrassing teen years to the life-altering challenges that force us to grow up, this year’s FemFest is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and hug your mom!

Highlighting the changes we make within ourselves and the much-needed changes in society, FemFest 2016: Transformation takes inspiring stories of hope, healing and ultimate transformation to centre stage.  Featuring the works of both emerging and award-winning female playwrights from all over the country, we have everything from the real-life struggles of a transgender poet, the hilarious ups and downs of puberty, through to a young girl’s fight for freedom from society’s hold.

We are very excited to give you a sneak peek and announce the FemFest 2016 lineup featuring plays and readings that celebrate the leaps and bounds women make. Check out the brand new FemFest 2016 website to get the full scoop and snag your tickets.

Touring Shows

Miss Understood – Written by Antonette Rea. Produced by the frank theatre company (Vancouver, BC). Jessie Award Nominee for “Outstanding Original Script,” Miss Understood is a moving theatrical poem based on the life of writer and spoken word poet, Antonette Rea. Rea has lived through horrific abuse as a transgender person and rises above this personal pain to piece together an emotional and eye-opening play filled with beautiful poetry and raw, unfiltered truth. Hear excerpts from Miss Understood and get to know Antonette Rea before FemFest with PuSh Festival’s latest TELUS Optik Local Documentary, Antonette. The documentary is a behind the scenes look at the writer and the experiences that inspired Miss Understood. Be sure to grab some tissues.

Morro and Jasp do Puberty – Produced by U.N.I.T Productions (Toronto, ON).”Perfectly hilarious, perfectly poignant, perfectly gross, and perfectly adorable Morro and Jasp Do Puberty is the MUST SEE Show” – TWISI Blog

“A charming, hilarious and superb piece of theatre…positively captivating” – VUE Weekly

Now don’t you want to feel the way these reviewers (and so many others) felt after seeing Morro and Jasp do Puberty?  Then catch clown sisters Morro and Jasp as they hilariously deal with the most awkward years of their lives. –  when the hormones are always flaring, the telephone keeps ringing, and the punk rock can never be too loud. Morro and Jasp Do Puberty takes you on a comedic trip through the trials and tribulations of growing up.

mouthpieceMouthpiece – Produced by Quote Unquote Collective (Toronto, ON). “My mother always told me, you could cure almost anything with a hot bath,” and so starts the journey. In the wake of her mother’s death, Mouthpiece follows one woman, for one day, as she tries to find her voice. Interweaving a cappella harmonies, dissonance, text and physicality, performers Norah Sadava  and Amy Nostbakken express the inner conflict that exists within a modern woman’s head: the push and the pull, the past and the present, the progress and the regression.

In-House Production: The Seduction Theory “They jumped the gates of the fortress . . . Once inside, they smashed every mirror so the girls could all be set free…” We are also very proud to present the world premiere of The Seduction Theory by Vancouver playwright, Sherry MacDonald. Winner of the FemFest 2015 Bake-Off and the 2016 Special Merit Award from the Theatre BC Playwriting competition, The Seduction Theory delves into society’s criminalization and sexual exploitation of young underprivileged girls.

Bake-OffCoordinated and directed by Cairn Moore in partnership with the Manitoba Association of Playwrights.  A festival favourite! We challenge selected playwrights with a list of ingredients and eight hours to cook up their own fantastic theatrical feasts! The results are a whole lot of laughs and entertaining surprises.

Short-List – Programmed and directed by Frances Koncan. Get a taste of the wonderful work of women playwrights from all over the country with excerpts from the FemFest shortlist.

Cabaret – Join us for our opening cabaret. Comedian Lara Rae will host the evening’s festivities, including music by Ali Fontaine and improv & theatre fusion act 50/50 with Robyn Slade. The opening cabaret features a wide array of fantastic female artists in music, theatre, film and dance!

Catch FemFest 2016: Transformation at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (at the University of Winnipeg, 400 Colony Street) from September 17-24. Tickets for single shows or the cabaret are $15, but see the entire festival with a festival pass for $50.

For more information and tickets visit www.femfest.ca