8 hours, 5 playwrights, 3 ingredients

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

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

Which scene will steal your heart?

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

Postcards from Paris by Brigette DePape
Bake Off Playwright Brigette DePape

The Lettuce Flower by Larissa Hikel
Larissa Hikel - Headshot

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

Superpowers by Pamela Wolk
Bake Off Playwright Pamela Wolk

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

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

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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.

Meet the Cast of Characters

Breaking Through word collage

We began by listening.

We listened to the community, to caregivers, and to many people who are living with mental health issues. We gathered hundreds of stories and now, we have woven them into one great, big, beautiful inter-connected play.  This story is full of magic, songs (yes songs!!), hope, humour and truth. And we are thankful for the wonderful team of people who are going to help us tell it.

THE CAST

Ian Bastin will be reading for the prickly but charming, Joe. Suffering from schizophrenia  Joe has a long history with various treatments for mental illness. Joe is never short on stories to tell, but will anybody listen?

Kelsey Funk will be reading Molly. Molly has bipolar episodes which often manifest as religious fixations. As a single parent living in poverty, she is forced to rely heavily on her already over-stretched sister.

Spenser Payne will be reading Val, an aspiring actor who has bulimia. Val wears a mask to hide her reality. She struggles to defeat the voices inside her head that tell her she is not enough.

Rachel Smith will be reading Stef, who lives with OCD and anxiety. Stef’s mental health issues threaten to shut her in as she struggles to leave the house and maintain relationships—even with those who care for her the most.

Erica Wilson will be reading KoKo. KoKo is a young, Indigenous two-spirited person with attitude. Will her creativity and strength outshine the depression and suicidal tendencies brought on by a lifetime of trauma?

Akalu Meekis, Ashley Chartrand and Nan Fewchuck read for a wide range of characters—including caregivers, a psychiatrist, police officer, and spirit guide.

After the first read of the script of Breaking Through, the cast summed the story up with one word each. The above collage is the result. Let us know what you think after you hear the story!

Breaking Through
A staged reading by Hope McIntyre and Cairn Moore
In collaboration with the Mental Health Community

Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (at U of W, 400 Colony Street)
Tickets $15 Regular / $10 Students & Seniors
May 22 at 3pm
May 24-27 at 7pm
May 28 at 3pm

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Local Talent Wild Card

We’ve heard from four of six celebrity competitors as they prepare to kick butt and takes names in this year’s Rage on the Stage. They’re talented, they’re motivated, and they’re hungry for the win, BUT they aren’t the only factors in this competition…

It’s time we introduce the Local Talent Wild Cards! Each one of these wonderful, talented, Winnipeg-based actors will be teamed up with a non-actor celebrity in order to help them compete for the ultimate So You Think You Can Act title.

Thought you knew who was set to take this year’s trophy? You might want to think again.

“In it to Win It” Jenna Khan is the only competitor who mentioned working with her scene partner as part of her game-plan. This is likely music to the ears of local talent wild card Lyle Morris (The Dance-Off of Conscious Uncoupling and Launched, Sarasvàti Productions’ FemFest). But if Jenna Khan “channels her inner diva” as promised, this team’s co-operational advantage will quickly become a distant memory. We’ll have to wait and see what happens when Jenna and Lyle bring Michel Tremblay’s Johnny Mangano and His Astonishing Dogs to the stage.

Tracy Koga, a self-described “warrior” is not one to shy away from competition. Is her scene-partner-in-crime Grant Burr (For, Union Station Theatre; The Naked Woman, Sarasvàti Productions) prepared for the “blood, sweat, and tears” Tracy expects him to shed along their path to victory? This team will bring David Freeman’s Jitters to the stage and leave their own jitters at home.

Kerri “Angry Skills” Salki partners up with the mesmerizing Johanna “Beast of” Burdon (Mars One, Winnipeg Fringe 2015; Heartbreak, A Bizarro Cabaret) to bring us Sky Gilbert’s Lola Starr Builds Her Dream Home. These fierce challengers share an affinity for competition. What happens when you mix one lethal compound with another? Explosions, baby.

“Shakespeare like a butterfly–Chekhov like a bee” Al Simmons has been calling out the pretenders left, right, and centre! Will coach Simmons be able to take Ian Bastin (Lion in the Streets, Black Hole Theatre; The Club, FemFest 2015) from actor/pretender to ruthless contender in order to bring this title home? We’ll watch as they perform the fittingly titled Opening Night by Norm Foster.

The pressure’s on for Big Daddy Tazz as he prepares to face-off with Troy Westwood yet again. His right-hand man Kevin Ramberran (Tape, Rope, The 28th Minute; The Pinkertons, Buffalo Gal) better be prepared to go to any length in order to bring this title home. This dynamic duo cuts their chops on Zastrozzi by George F. Walker. And this time, it’s personal.

With stakes just as high, Tazz’s rival Troy Westwood joins forces with Cheryl Gensiorek (Launched, FemFest 2014; Empty, Sarasvàti Productions) to take a crack at the All-Star Edition victory.  They’ll be performing Self-Help by Norm Foster, and they’ll be seeking it if they fall short.

Lookout for these Local Talent Wild Cards spicin’ up the competition!

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Not only does a ticket to So You Think You Can Act 2016 grant you the entertainment of seeing six celebrity non-actors compete for the championship title, it also grants you the chance to admire some serious Winnipeg acting talent. That’s double the entertainment! All for one good cause.