More than Meets the Eye at FemFest 2017

FemFest is for theatre lovers, theatre newbies and theatre-makers alike.

Along with feature plays, FemFest celebrates female playwrights with readings, workshops and a roster full of fun events. Check out what we have going on from SEPT 16-23!

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Ivan Coyote (photo by Jourdan Tymkow)

IVAN COYOTE READING

Join Ivan Coyote, natural born storyteller and LGBT advocate for an intimate reading of their award-winning writing. This event is absolutely free and open to youth!

ARTIST WORKSHOP

Are You ‘Technically’ Prepared?

Esteemed Theatre Technician Allison Loat shares her expertise with emerging theatre artists in this new workshop. If you’re an independent theatre maker who is new to working with technicians this workshop is for you. Register by emailing associate@sarasvati.ca.

BAKE-OFF

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Cairn Moore

8 hours, 5 playwrights, 3 ingredients. The Bake-Off is back with a new line-up of playwrights. What will they cook up? There’s only one way to find out. Scenes will be directed by Bake-Off coordinator Cairn Moore and performed by an awesome ensemble cast of Ian Bastin, Lorraine James, Christina Heather, Josh Ranville and Danielle Savage.

KIT AND JOE

Jessy Ardern left us with a cliffhanger at last year’s Bake-Off. The scene she wrote in just 8 hours had us all captivated. Now, Jessy returns with a reading of the play that resulted from that scene. Kit and Joe is a one-night-only reading directed by the fabulous Krista Jackson.

WebGROUNDED HEROES

FemFest is thrilled to present a play reading for kids!
Local theatre artists Carrie Costello, Frances Koncan and Cherissa Richards join forces as Castlemoon Theatre to bring you a reading of a new play for audiences age 6 and up.

 

 

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Judith Thompson

ARTIST TALK

Award-winning playwright Judith Thompson speaks as part of the University of Winnipeg Theatre & Film Department’s Real Thing Lecture Series. This lecture is free and open to all.

PLAYWRITING WORKSHOP

Judith Thompson leads a three-day Masterclass for local playwrights from Sept 20-22. If you are a playwright interested in learning from one of Canada’s most respected modern playwrights this workshop is for you. Register by emailing associate@sarasvati.ca. This is a small workshop that will fill up fast.

NEW BEGINNINGS

FemFest offers a teaser of Sarasvàti Productions’ new community-based work-in-progress. New Beginnings is a cross-cultural, multi-media performance created by a team of local artists and new arrivals to Canada.  Stay tuned for exciting news about One Trunk Theatre’s production running alongside New Beginnings.

ONE NIGHT STAND AND A TOAST TO 15 YEARS!

Join us as we celebrate FemFest’s 15th birthday with readings from some of our most celebrated local playwrights! Sarasvàti Productions’ One Night Stand series gives playwrights the opportunity to test their work, while providing audiences a chance to take part in the developmental process. Enjoy a sampling of some of Winnipeg’s finest playwrights and be a part of their process. With a special reading by guest playwright Judith Thompson thanks to the Playwrights Guild of Canada and Canada Council. What better way to celebrate 15 years of FemFest?Play Connect transparent

All these amazing events take place at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony Street)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

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.

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.

Drum Roll for the Winner of SYTYCA 2015!

There were prizes, wine, food, and amazing celebrities bravely taking the stage for the first time! While they were all amazing, only one can go home with the trophy. This year’s vote was close and we were worried there would be another tie, but ANDRÉ LEWIS won by a nose!

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André Lewis and scene partner Danielle Savage were hysterical as a married couple who are only together to spite each other in a great scene from Jessy Ardern’s play Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests.

Our terrific judges Trish Cooper, Toby Hughes and Gord Tanner entertained with many witty comments on height, English accents, safety and Chekhov’s crackers. Our host Jon Ljungberg kept everything on track as we announced the 12 lucky raffle prize winners! After all the winners were drawn and the SYTYCA winner crowned it was time for wine from AD Beverages and food from Bothwell Cheese and Jonnies Sticky Buns.

Group ShotIt was an amazing successful evening and the proceeds will help us continue to bring you transformative theatre! A huge thank you to all the celebrities who braved the stage, and our judges and host for all their hard work. We would also like to thank Cairn Moore for her great directing, Tori Popp for keeping everyone organized as stage manager, Sandy Klowak for assisting backstage, all the playwrights for allowing us to use their work, and all the actors who took the stage with our celebrities!

Raffle TableAnd of course we can’t forget to thank all the local businesses who donated raffle prizes, our amazing volunteers, our staff and board, and of course the SYTYCA committee members who organized it all! Finally, we’d like to thank you, the audience for coming out to support the transformative theatre work of Sarasvàti Productions!

We’ve got some fun twists planned for SYTYCA 2016 that we can’t wait to share with you, so stay tuned! In the meantime, we will be keeping busy with our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues coming up on March 7 and Miss’N Me, tickets for both are available on line now, just click here!

Who’s Got the Power?

Banner SYTYCA 2015Superman, an environmental terrorist, a creepy date and a widow whose husband was eaten by a bear. These are just some of the characters that this year’s celebrities will tackle at So You Think You Can Act. This year’s event is only two short weeks away and rehearsals have begun! It’s been a pleasure introducing the celebrities to their acting partners and hearing these hilarious scripts come off the page. Under this year’s theme of Power Play, we have found writing by a mix of work by emerging Winnipeg writers and some of Canada’s most established playwrights. Although each get only 2 hours to rehearse under the direction of Cairn Moore, they have great material to work with. Keep reading to see what scenes and which actors each celebrity is working with!

Rana Bokhari will be playing Maria in Michael Healey’s political dark comedy Generous with Kevin Gabel. This play was produced a couple years ago by Theatre by the River and of course Healey’s play Proud was produced by Theatre Projects this past fall with Kevin Gabel also appearing in it. We are also pleased to announce that Kevin will be in our spring production of Miss N Me!

Chris Cvetkovic gets to play Superman opposite Lyle Morris in Ken Mitchell’s play Heroes. What happens when Superman and the Lone Ranger meet in their Chief’s office waiting room? We are pleased to have Lyle on board after his great performance in Launched at FemFest 2014.

André Lewis with Danielle Savage will be playing the title characters in Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests by Jessy Ardern. This piece won our first Bake-Off at FemFest 2012 and was fully produced at FemFest 2013. Danielle Savage helped take Troy Westwood to victory last year – can she do the same this year?

Kelly Linehan will be tackling the character of Lorrie in George F. Walker’s play Featuring Loretta with Spenser Payne. Lorrie’s husband has been eaten by a bear and she needs to figure out what to do with her life. Kelly should have a blast working with Spenser, who is also part of the Talentless Lumps.

Romi Mayes will be playing the wannabe terrorist Melissa with Cheryl Gensiorek in Terroristas by Ginny Collins. Last year we included Ginny’s piece Good Intentions, which had premiered at Winnipeg Jewish Theatre in 2013. This will be Cheryl’s third time in this event and in 2013 she helped Kerri Salki win the trophy.

Doug Speirs will be playing Man in Eye to Eye by Christopher Graybill with Nan Fewchuk playing Woman in this hilarious ten minute play about a first date gone awry. Nan has appeared in multiple pieces with Sarasvàti Productions, most recently The Naked Woman at FemFest 2014. Hopefully she can stay focused as Doug Speirs lays it on thick.

Taz Stuart gets to try his hand at romantic comedy as Rudy in Norm Foster’s Wrong for Each Other with Liz Whitbread. Liz is about to appear in our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. She also appeared in a Norm Foster scene at last year’s event, helping Big Daddy Tazz tie for first with Troy Westwood.

Between these hilarious scenes, the comedic talents of the judges, Trish Cooper, Toby Hughes and Gordon Tanner, and witty hosting by Jon Ljungberg this will be one super fun night! And if that wasn’t enough we also have thousands of dollars’ worth of raffle prizes (raffle licence #MGCC5542). Don’t miss out, buy tickets now! Tickets can be purchased online here or by phoning us at 204-586-2236. Rana Bokhari started off strong in our blog polls, but was over taken by Kelly Linehan. Unfortunately Kelly wasn’t ahead for long before Romi Mayes beat her by a nose. And the guys really haven’t been feeling the love. Now that the scenes are revealed will that all change?

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Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

Where did the time go?! It’s hard to believe 2013 has finally come to an end. One of the greatest parts about a New Year is the opportunity to reflect upon all that you accomplished in the last 365 days. What was your greatest artistic achievement in 2013? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter. We would love to hear from you!

Our achievements include:

– The 2nd annual (and wildly entertaining) So You Think You Can Act fundraiser

– The successful sold out IWW Cabaret of Monologues: Wild Women performance

-The world premiere of the much awaited Jail Baby

FemFest 2013: Revelation and Revolution which featured the world premiere of Harold and Vivian by Jessy Ardern who is one of Winnipeg’s Group of 7 Female Playwrights

-The creation and workshop presentation of Giving Voice, our latest youth based play created in partnership with VOICES: Manitoba Youth in Care Network. In November, Giving Voice did a test run in three Winnipeg High Schools for our upcoming fall tour and received an incredible amount of positive feedback and rave reviews!

It was truly a fantastic year but we are just as excited (if not more) for 2014! Be sure to check out our website for a list of upcoming events. First up is our 3rd annual So You Think You Can Act fundraiser which we promise will be just as fun, fabulous, and gut-wrenching as last year! With that, let’s take a look at our resolutions for 2014.

Andrea Geary (President, Board of Directors): The Board’s focus for 2014 is to keep growing our audience base, in other words – get more bums in the seats – and to keep our board structure strong. I resolve to keep spreading the word on behalf of Sarasvàti Productions in hopes of increasing our audience numbers and our committee and board membership. I suggest that all readers resolve to come out to see one of our performances this year, and also support us by attending our upcoming annual So You Think You Can Act fundraiser at the Gas Station Theatre on Feb. 19.

Hope McIntyre (Artistic Director): As I research the amazing Maria Irene Fornes in preparation for our May production of Fefu and Her Friends, I am resolving to turn off the producer brain when I enter the rehearsal room and find that deep place Fornes talks about in the gut that tells us what needs to be on stage.

Samantha Walters (Associate Producer): Coming on board with Sarasvàti Productions in September has been an incredible opportunity for me. It has given me so much insight into how much hardwork, time, and dedication it takes to do what we do! My resolution for 2014 is to help Sarasvàti grow by educating others on what we do and the importance of our work, particularly those who are not involved in the arts. I also hope to provide more opportunities for emerging artists to develop their skills and career. First up is our workshop with Stratford actor Bethany Jillard on How to Get from Here to There on January 31st, 2014!

On behalf of our team at Sarasvàti Productions, we wish you all the best in 2014! Also, thank you for continuing to support our blog! Take a look at our wonderful 2013 report below.

Report Excerpt – “A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,400 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.”Click here to see the complete report.