FemFest 2012 to wrap up this weekend!

We could not be more thrilled with the incredible amount of support and encouragement we have received this week as part of FemFest 2012! There are only two days left of the festival but there are still tons of incredible performances to see!

Friday, September 21:

7pm – Empty: Created with the assistance of the Winnipeg Arts Council WithArts Program, Empty tells the true and poignant stories of people at a local food bank and explores the human side of poverty.

8:15pm – The Possible Lives of Dolores Garcia Rodriguez: a reading by playwright Jordan Hall, Co-created with ACTvist Theatre Collective’s Zoe Green, Possible Lives explores the 2006 repeal of therapeutic abortion rights in Nicaragua and their effects on the lives of three different women. When do we decide to create change, and when do we decide to ignore the issues?

9pm – My Pregnant Brother: a one-woman show by Montreal playwright and actor Johanna Nutter, this stranger than fiction story is based off of the true events that took place when one day on a park bench, Johanna’s brother revealed that he was pregnant! Absolutely heart wrenching and mesmerizing!

My Pregnant Brother; photo by Pam Price

Saturday, September 22:

2pm – Empty

7pm – Immigration Stories: SOLD OUT!: Created in partnership with the Immigrant Women’s Association of Manitoba, Immigration Stories tells the true stories of senior immigrant women and their experiences coming to and navigating through their new lives in Winnipeg. Experience the trials, tribulations and triumphs of these amazing, head strong women. Although tickets are sold out audiences are welcome to take a risk and come just before the show in case there are no-shows.

9pm – Closing Cabaret: Hosted by Virgin Radio’s Chrissy Troy, the closing cabaret is a celebrating of female talent from across disciplines! Including: Gear Shifting Performance Work, MAWA artists Cindy Dyson and Nora Kobrinsky, slam poetry by Ali Tataryn, Prairie Caravan Tribal Bellydance, a short film by Leslie Supnet and musical guest Flo!

Tickets can be purchased online at www.femfest.ca or you can try your luck by purchasing at the door! (We recommend buying ahead of time – shows are filling up quickly! Tickets bought ahead of time will be available at the box office)

Helma Rogge Rehders Shares Her Stories

Immigration Stories

Where do I start? I will describe my surroundings. My fine art painting studio is over looking a deep green summer landscape. The temperature reads 28 celsius inside. The fan is cranked on faster.

Ha, I know it is much more comfortable outside under the huge oak shade and a good breeze coming off the lake, Lake Winnipeg.

We are now into serious rehearsing our script for the Immigration Stories vignettes. From January when we got together to tell our stories and Hope was listening we as a group of novices have come a long way. She is fantastic the things she had made us do to learn to mime. And mime so that the audience would get what we were trying to show. Then on we went to develop our script, that was homework, real homework for all of us. I for one needed to be reminded that this is to be a final production for the FemFest in September in a real theatre with a paying audience. Perhaps I was hoping that it was just a little thingy. But no. I am seeing the production coming together and the characters come to life.

I loved the moment I chose to act out in our winter scene ‘making snowangels’ what fun I had rolling into the snow and patting my arms up and down to make the snow angel. Fancy, I couldn’t even remember when I last lay in the snow to make an angel. And there I was practicing in the rehearsal studio with so much glee we all threw the make believe snowballs at each other. I even snow washed, if that what you call it, my dear fellow woman actor’s face. Giggling good naturely.

I am so happy to be part of this theatre production. Not just for the fame lol but the cameraderie and bonding with the immigrant women and the professional actors I have met. I also believe it has put a real spring into my step. Enough for now because I have to learn my lines.

Well, I have good intentions to do that.

Greetings to all —

Your colleague in creative synergy,


Immigration Stories runs September 20 & 22 at 7pm more info at www.femfest.ca .

Q&A with Immigration Stories

Sarasvàti Productions had the incredible opportunity over the past several months to collaborate on a project with the Immigrant Women’s Association of Manitoba (IWAM). Members of IWAM were asked to write their stories of immigration to Canada and to collaborate with our Artistic Director Hope McIntyre to turn their stories into an original play. The result: Immigration Stories – a funny and sensitive portrayal of the triumphs, trials and tribulations of women’s journeys to and in Winnipeg. The best part? Six of the women involved in creating the story will actually be in the play! Yep – these lovely ladies will be playing themselves (and each other’s family members) at FemFest 2012: Staging Identity. For more information about the festival check out www.femfest.ca ! Here is some information on all the fabulous women appearing in Immigration Stories.


Name and Area of Winnipeg you reside:
– Hien Tran, Pembina
– Francesca Cotroneo, St. Vital
– Clara Orallo, St. James
– Helma Rogge Rehders, Winnipeg Beach
– Beatrice Watson, Fort Rouge
– Barbara Guia, West Kildonan
– Reena Shah, Garden City
– Samantha Walters, West Kildonan
* Lynn Langdon, River Heights born, North End presently (added in on July 25, 2012)

In addition to IWAM, what other community groups are you involved in?
– HT: I’ve been a member of the Vietnamese Seniors Association of Manitoba since 1990!
– FC: I am a member of the Winnipeg-Italia community, and a proud member of the Holy Rosary Church.
– CO: I am a classically trained singer and a member of the Harmonic Symphony Choir.
– HRR: I am a practicing visual artist and poet; I am a member of tthe Lake Winnipeg Writers Group, The Winnipeg Beach Art and Culture Co-Op and CARFAC Manitoba.
– BW: I have been a member of LEAF and the Congress of Black Women for years!
– BG: I am a cross-culture counsellor with the Immigration Women’s Counselling Services and focus on domestic violence and other women’s issues. I also set up, coordinated and administered the Settlement Language Program at the Portguese Centre. This is only the beginning! I like to keep busy.
– SW: I have been a member of the Girl Guides of Canada in the past as a leader, camp counsellor and as a girl guide! I also worked for the Manitoba Children’s Museum and for Sarasvàti Productions (of course)

How would you introduce yourself to a stranger?
– HT: We’d be strangers at the beginning, but friends later!
– FC: A Graduate Social Worker from the U of M who worked in psychiatry as a mental health worker and a Cross Cultural Counsellor.
– CO: Hello, I am Clara.
– HRR: I am an artist and performer (print with acrylics), a print maker, entertainer, storyteller and singer.
– BW: I am Beatrice Watson.
– BG: Hi! My name is Barbara, and you are?
– RS: I am a life enthusiast who is passionae about the creation of art. I have a background in film acting – this is actually my first stage performance! I also own Expression Film Studio where I work with very talented young actors all the time who inspire me with their love for acting and their enthusiasm to learn.
– SW: I work part-time as a server so I do this on a nightly basis. “Hi there, my name is Sam!” followed by a big, warm and inviting smile.
* LL: By my real given names (and let her/him find out the rest in conversatio, if it were to go that far.

What do you want audiences to take away after viewing Immigration Stories? What is the most important issue you’d like to see addressed with the performance of the play?
– HT: I want audiences to gain some insight and understanding on immigration issues, and be inspired to support newcomers.
– FC: I hope the audience will get a better understanding of the difficult sacrifices that the first generation of immigrant women gave. I would like the audience to see the difficulties of a teenager trying to adopt to another culture. Often parents are too busy trying to adjust and forget their children also struggle with their feelings.
– CO: I want audiences to see us as role models; immigrants should be telling their stories and passing them down through generations.
– HRR: We are dedicated Canadians no matter where we come from; we are committed to being Canadian.
– BW: That the decision to immigrate is often difficult and immigrants face many challenges. The frustration of wanting a Canadian experience while staying true to your roots can be quite difficult.
– BG: I want the audience to gain an understanding about the hard times newcomers face as they arrive in a new country and the barriers they face in all sectors of life. Be kind to them!
– RS: The myraid of emotions one feels leaving their country and embracing a new one to call home is captivated by the talent of this cast. The chance to work with an all-female cast of such diversity and unique backgrounds is a rare opportunity. Not only are the women powerful on stage, but their stories are profound and moving.
– SW: I love theatre that inspires, creates change and promotes thinking. I hope people leave thinking about the stories they have just heard/seen and realize that those who immigrate to Canada are enduring far more hardships then we could ever know. It’s not as easy as people may think to “get a good life” upon arrival in Canada. Above anything, I would like to know what people get from the stories the women tell in the piece.
* LL: Despite emerging from a lifestyle of disfunction and woundedness, there is still laughter… at oneself, too.

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