The Wait for Fefu Is Over!

It’s finally here: the Winnipeg premiere of Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes. We’re so happy to be able to bring you this exciting story that has been a theatrical dream of Sarasvàti Productions for years. And the excitement isn’t contained within the massive walls of Ralph Connor House, the play’s venue. We’ve received wonderful coverage from Winnipeg media over the past week.

Check out the previews:

CTV Morning Live

The Uniter – Thank You For Being a Friend

Winnipeg Free Press – Ladies of the House

If that isn’t enough to peak your interest, here are the Top 10 reasons why you shouldn’t miss Fefu:

  1. A story set in 1935, written in in 1977, and performed by Sarasvàti Productions in 2014: When else will you get to enjoy three eras for the price of one?
  2. For those of you interested in a Winnipeg history lesson every now and then, you can get your double dose of culture and story with Fefu and Her Friends, as the venue of the play is a Manitoba Heritage Building.
  3. Fefu and Her Friends is performed by 8 of Winnipeg’s most talented female performers, it’s directed by one of Winnipeg’s most talented directors and it was written by a world famous female playwright. What better way to experience so much female talent in 1 (okay, 4) rooms.
  4. You know when you’re watching a play and despite the fact that it’s very entertaining you feel a little restless from sitting in the same place for too long. Audience members will actually get to move around the venue, 54 West Gate, with the play.
  5. And to push the sensory experiences even further, audience members will be entertained by water and ice cube fights contained within the story of the play.
  6. For those of you who like to sneak a musical or two into your theatre schedule every year, Fefu and Her Friends doesn’t hold back from belting out a note here and there.
  7. We all secretly enjoy the sighting of a vegetable or a fruit that looks alarmingly like certain parts of the human anatomy—Fefu and Her Friends also don’t shy away from indulging in humour of all shapes and sizes.
  8. To add to the intimate nature of the play’s story, every showing of Fefu and Her Friends includes only 60 audience members.
  9. The first couple of shows are already sold out, don’t be left out of seeing this unique production.
  10. As Emma says in the play “Life is theatre. Theatre is life. If we’re showing what life is, can be, we must do theatre.”
Fefu Ensemble

Fefu Ensemble

Get your tickets before it’s too late!

Fefu – A Labour of Love

A Labour of Love by Hope McIntyre, Director

Julia and Fefu (2)“Fight!…I need you to fight.” Watching our initial run-throughs of Fefu and Her Friends, this is what stands out – the need to fight against the things that stop us from being fully alive. The need to deal with the injustice we see in the world. The need to keep struggling to improve the world we live in. A message many of us need to hear when we feel that we’ve been fighting the same battles for too long. It is a powerful and inspiring moment in the play. Of course there is so much more than this rallying cry though. The moments of great pain are immediately turned to moments of silliness, laughter and games. In her typical way, Maria Irene Fornes has confronted us with fear and allowed us to see the pleasure in the world all at once.

The performers have struggled in their own way with the deeply layered script, with the sharp changes in tone, with the magical elements that won’t line up with logical approaches. They have also found beautiful moments of connection, of longing and of course fun. With eight women in the cast, our female stage management team and a female assistant director; there is a real sense of community in the room and a lot of laughter. Emma and Julia

“Intimacy, pleasure, truthfulness, and innocence willing to be taken by surprise. These are all crucial attributes of Fornes’ theater.” – Scott Cummings

Yesterday Fornes turned 84, yet she has given us a gift with this beautiful script that we cannot wait to share with our audiences. After waiting many years to direct the play, I can truly say that I have the ideal cast, ideal venue in the beautiful Ralph Connor House and have loved immersing myself in the world of Fefu. We are one week away from opening and we want to welcome you to a different kind of theatre, one that allows for laughter and pain, struggle and discovery…Ultimately Fornes believed she showed things as they are and it was up to the audience to find ways to improve the world as a result, but her writing is also filled with moments of mischievous celebration and joy.

 

Buy your tickets for this unique experience!

The Fefu Journey Begins

After much preparation, rehearsals for Fefu and Her Friends began this week. What a joy and challenge to tackle this multi-layered and rich script by Maria Irene Fornes and to do so with such an amazing team of artists!

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“If art is to inspire us, we must not be too eager to understand. If we understand too readily, our understanding will, most likely, be meaningless. It will have no consequences. We must be patient with ourselves.” – Maria Irene Fornes

Fornes is a provocateur and Fefu and Her Friends is no exception as one of the first site specific plays in the US canon. The mischief and delight that Fornes shows in her theatricality translates in to the play with shifts between playful and delving in to the depths of human experience. As the team has explored the script in the last few days it is clear that Fornes is a powerful writer. Her use of magical realism is captivating, yet despite writing over 50 works, winning 8 Obie’s including the 1982 sustained achievement award “for the wit, imagination, and social outrage she has brought to off-Broadway for twenty years” she is not a well-known writer. Her work challenges artists and audiences. Sugarcoating is not part of Fornes’ recipe, but her plays do not preach rather they ask us to look at things anew. We find moments of joy and tap in to a deeper level of consciousness.

“If you have imagination, you can write about things with imagination. I am so amazed when people say – and they say over and over and over – that in spite of the fact that I didn’t seem to be following any of the rules, my play was very moving. What do they think the theatre is? A baseball game? I don’t even know what rules they are talking about. I think that if I had known those rules, I may have never written a play.” – Maria Irene Fornes

This is an experience you do not want to miss. With the wonderful cast, a beautiful heritage house setting and an opportunity to encounter the work of one of theatre’s most unique voices…plus only 60 seats per performance. Get your tickets now!

Finding Fornes

A Director’s Quest by Hope McIntyre

My first encounter with the writing of Maria Irene Fornes was when I was doing my undergrad at the University of Saskatchewan. I was very interested in discovering work by female playwrights. I kept an on-going list of women playwrights and would go to the university library and check out play after play and read them in between classes, rehearsals and work. When I came across Fornes, I was immediately hooked. I remember reading several of her pieces and being struck by the style, the subtle political content and the language. I read up on her and loved how her work as a painter and her cross-cultural experience influenced her work. A peer did a student production of “Conduct of Life” during that time and I kept a copy of it, “Fefu and Her Friends” and my other favourite, “Mud” in my files of plays I love.

maria-irene-fornes

 When I did my MFA I wanted so badly to direct “Fefu and Her Friends” but our thesis directing was part of a summer repertory and both due to the casting demands and my thesis committee’s lack of understanding of the play, I was turned down. I had to select another piece. It was disappointing but I knew one day the right situation for directing the play would come along. Then, while doing an apprenticeship in England, I had the opportunity to work on a film adaptation of “Mud” and play Mae. It was an amazing experience. 

Needless to say, I have waited a long time to direct “Fefu and Her Friends” and am beyond excited to do so with a stellar cast and in the ideal venue. Why did this play hit such a chord with me? I think it was both the experimental use of space that opened my eyes as a young theatre student and that Fornes really does break all the rules, or as she would say she simply doesn’t believe there are any rules. There is so much to mine in her writing and at the same time her goal is to let the audience decide the meaning. 

A few years back, I tried to contact Fornes to invite her to FemFest. I had always read about her work teaching playwriting and missed an opportunity years ago to do one of her masterclasses. I simply could not get away nor afford to travel to New York. It is one of those things I will always regret. My invite to her to do a masterclass at FemFest went unanswered. I later discovered that it was due to her failing health. In my mind she will always be this high spirited, energetic artist that I have read so much about. In reality she is now 83 years old. A few years ago she began showing signs of Alzheimer’s. She was put in a nursing home far from her theatre community in New York City. After an on-line petition and much advocacy she was moved last year to a nursing home where her theatre family could visit and care for her. The change in her was immediate. As a lesbian woman with no children or partner, her extended family is the theatre, the artists she worked with, the playwrights she taught and inspired and artists like myself who have admired her from afar. She has shown us the possibility of theatre.

I will give Fornes the final word: “…my intention is not necessarily to promote kindness to the opposite sex but something ultimately more interesting, which is that any human being is a member of our species and if we don’t allow our imagination to receive the experiences of others because they are of a different gender, we will shrivel and decay.”Fornes pic3

 

For updates on where she is today, check out https://www.facebook.com/fornestherestimakeup .

 

 

 

Fefu and Her Friends: Final Two Talents!

Fefu FB cover pic

Have you got your tickets to the Winnipeg premiere of Fefu and Her Friends yet? Better hurry! This compelling story will come to life in just over one month and tickets are selling fast. Written in 1977 by Cuban American playwright Maria Irene Fornes, Fefu and Her Friends is recognized as a feminist piece for its use of an all-female cast, central ideas of gender roles, its bold deviation from conventional theatre and for its unique staging. It is a theatrical experience for women and men alike! On today’s blog, we are pleased to feature the final two members of our all-female cast. Tracey Nepinak will play the role of Emma and stage veteran Megan McArton will lead the cast as the one-and-only Fefu! Look familiar? You may recognize both these woman from the world premiere of Jail Baby last spring! Sarasvàti Productions is incredibly pleased to have them on board once again. Keep reading to find out more.

Tracey Nepinak - HeadshotTracey Nepinak has appeared in: Good People, The History of Manitoba from the Beginning of Time to the Present in 45 Minutes (RMTC); Jail Baby (Sarasvàti); Ernestine Shuswap Gets her Trout (Firehall Arts); The Moving Gallery: Beyond Reconciliation (Urban Indigenous Theatre); Romeo & Juliet, Silverwing, The Happy Prince (MTYP); The Rez Sisters, Great Expectations, fareWel (PTE); The Sleeping Land (Globe); Cruel & Unusual Punishment (Theatre Projects); The Crisis in Oka,Manitoba (As the Bannock Burns).

 

Megan McArton - Headshot

Megan McArton is delighted to be working on another Sarasvàti production. Her experience last year in Jail Baby was enjoyable and enriching. She has just finished performing in Harvest at PTE and is looking forward to summer.

These two local actors are keeping busy! Tracey can currently be seen in RMTC’s Good People and Megan closes PTE’s Harvest this weekend. Dying to know more? Keep reading to get the inside scoop and find out what these stars would take  with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

 

Where would you love to travel?

TRACEY: Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
MEGAN: Australia and New Zealand.

What would you do if you won a million dollars?

TRACEY: Get off the grid.
MEGAN: Share with others.

If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would they be?

TRACEY: Cigarettes, matches, chocolate covered almonds.
MEGAN: 2 friends and a box of books.

Fefu and Her Friends will run from May 22nd-June 1st inside the beautiful Ralph Connor House (54 West Gate). With only 60 seats per performance, there is no better time to book your tickets then right now. Our print-at-home ticket option makes the process incredibly simple! Did we mention you can also choose to have them mailed straight to your door? And don’t forget Mother’s Day is just around the corner on May 11th! Give the gift of live theatre to that special woman in your life. In fact, take her out for a night on the town! Grab a bite to eat, stroll down the beautiful streets of West Broadway, admire the old character homes and then catch Fefu and Her Friends! We guarantee it’ll be her most memorable gift yet.

 “I had never seen intelligence and intuition, history and character, environmental and realistic theater, narrative and experimental techniques combined in such an extraordinary way.” -Oskar Eustes

 

Fefu and Her Friends: Female Talent Galore!

Fefu FB cover pic

Murder, tea, and nightmare interrogations in a big old heritage house?!? We bet we’ve got your attention now. Sarasvàti Productions is thrilled to bring Winnipeg audiences the incredible Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes next month. Set in the spring of 1935, the play takes place inside a country house and takes the audience through an entire day, beginning in the morning as Fefu’s guests arrive to plan a charity event and climaxing in a murder scene in the evening. On today’s blog we are pleased to continue to introduce our incredible cast of 8 local female theatre artists! This week, meet Brenda McLean and Tracy Penner, two fabulous Winnipeg Women who are no strangers to the stage. Watch out for Brenda who will play the role of Christina and Tracy who will take on the part of Cindy in this much anticipated Winnipeg premiere. Keep reading to find out more about these local stars and this unique production.

Brenda McLean_HeadshotBrenda McLean is excited about working on this play in the beautiful and inspiring historical setting of the Ralph Connor house. Her previous collaboration with Sarasvàti was directing “Harold and Vivian” in their last FemFest, where she had many many laughs. This spring she is directing “The Weir” for PTE’s Adult Company and Costume Designing “The Comedy of Errors” for SIR. Brenda is also Co-Artistic Director of Theatre Incarnate, who will be doing a reading during Carol Shields this May.

Tracy Penner_colourTracy Penner is delighted to be working with Sarasvàti again! Other local companies she’s worked with include RMTC, TPM, zone 41, Root Sky Productions, SIR, and WJT. In Edmonton, select theatre companies include Catalyst Theatre, Shadow Theatre, Concrete Theatre, and Vault: Theatre of Invention. Tracy is a graduate of the University of Alberta.

Get to know these stars better with our hilarious up close and personal questions. Any guesses as to which famous Shakespearean character these stars both want to play someday? Keep reading to find out!

 

Where would you love to travel?

BRENDA: London, Ireland, Spain. I’d start in London and travel south.

TRACY: There are many places I’d love to see, but my top picks would have to be Greece and The Maritimes.

If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

BRENDA: Maybe something from Adele or Bruno Mars.

TRACY: ‘Blue Skies’ would be my pick but if that were too old school, maybe John Legend’s new song ‘All of Me’.

What role would you love to play one day?

BRENDA: Lady Macbeth

TRACY: I would love to play Shakespeare’s ‘Lady M’ one day!

Fefu and Her Friends is a site-specific theatrical experience that is sure to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The piece will be presented inside West Broadway’s Ralph Connor House (54 West Gate). We are incredibly excited to use this heritage house venue as it fulfills our mandate of using new or non-traditional forms of theatrical representation to tell stories. Fefu and her Friends will have audiences travel to different spaces throughout the house while watching its compelling story unfold. Don’t miss out on this event! Due to our unique venue, there are only 60 seats per performance. Act now and get your tickets before it’s too late.

Fefu and Her Friends: Meet the Cast!

 

Fefu FB cover pic
Gender roles, sexuality, loneliness, isolation, and entrapment – these are just some of the themes explored in Maria Irene Fornes’ Fefu and Her Friends which we are thrilled to be bringing to life this spring! We are also incredibly excited to work with our cast of 8 local female theatre artists! With opening night less than 2 months away, we felt it was about time to begin introducing the members of our cast. Today, we are happy to feature Julia Arkos who will take on the role of Cecilia and Nan Fewchuk in the role of Paula. Keep reading to find out more about these two female talents and stay tuned over the next few weeks as we continue to feature the rest of our cast!

Julia Arkos_HeadshotJulia Arkos was last seen on RMTC’s Mainstage as Kate in “Other People’s Money” and as Karen Weston at the Warehouse in “August: Osage County.” Theatre credits also include productions with: Soulpepper Theatre (Toronto), Kaleidoscope Theatre (Victoria), Playwrights Theatre Centre, The Arts Club, Mothership Collective (Vancouver), MTYP, WJT, TPM and PTE. Film and TV credits including leading roles in: “Choke”, “Heaven is for Real”, “Lucky Christmas”, “Less than Kind”, “Eureka”, “Dead like Me” and “The X-Files”.

Nan FewchukNan Fewchuk is truly pumped to be working with this stellar group of women in such a thought provoking, innovative play. Last year Nan assistant directed, Jail Baby, and then produced and played Rozetta Stone in the Winnipeg Fringe Hit, Dog Act. Select credits include Peter Pan, Beauty and The Beast (Rainbow Stage), The Merry Wives of Windsor (SIR), Magpie, Fen (Sarasvati), Or, Eleemosynary and A Phoenix Too Frequent (Winnipeg Fringe).

And now for a little bit of fun. We wanted to give our audiences the chance to get to know our actors so we asked them a few questions for you! Take a look at Julia and Nan’s responses.

 What is your favourite play?
JULIA: Currently in love with “Tristan and Yseult” by Kneehigh
NAN: The Stone Angel

 What role would you love to play one day?
JULIA: Goneril in “King Lear” I guess.
NAN: Lady Bracknell

If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?
JULIA: I wouldn’t; and you wouldn’t want me to.
NAN: A mash up of Oh, Canada and American Woman.

If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would they be?
JULIA: I’m not really a deserted island kinda gal.
NAN: Yoga mat, a good book, and my readers. If there were no Customs on the island, I would throw in a very expensive bottle of red wine.

Fefu and Her Friends will run from May 22nd – June 1st inside the beautiful old heritage building operated by The University Women’s Club of Winnipeg (Ralph Connor House, 54 West Gate). Tickets are $15 for students and seniors and $20 for adults. This is a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience you won’t want to miss and with only 60 seats per performance it is bound to sell out fast! Click here to purchase your tickets online today or give us a call at 204-586-2236.

 

 

Big or Small, Every Donation Counts.

The sun is shining, the days are warmer, and the snow is finally melting (sort of)! Spring is certainly in the air. It is one of our favourite seasons here at Sarasvàti Productions. With spring comes a time to reflect on all that we have accomplished throughout our season so far and all the exciting projects we have to look forward to in the fall. It is also the time when we begin to bring our final production of the season to life. This year, we are pleased to present the Winnipeg premiere of Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes inside the beautiful old heritage house operated by The University Women’s Club of Winnipeg (Ralph Connor House, 54 West Gate). The piece will feature a cast of 8 local female theatre artists and will support numerous local artists behind the scenes as well.

As you know, we believe in creating great art and in providing incredible artistic opportunities such as this to our audiences, our artists, and our community. But we can’t do it alone. As production costs continue to rise and arts funding continues to become more competitive, it is more important now than ever to help support local arts and to help keep them alive in our community. If you believe in our transformative theatre work, please consider making a donation to our online fundraising campaign in support of Fefu and Her FriendsOur goal is to reach $5,000 by March 31st which is just under two weeks away! We are almost half way there. Big or small, your donation will go a long way towards supporting the work of Sarasvàti Productions and local theatre artists.Fefu_Friends_Poster_v1a

Still not convinced? Consider these facts.

Did You Know…

Administrative work began on this show a year and a half in advance? This includes hours of unpaid time put in by our team to raise funds and confirm grants.

$100 just about covers the cost for ONE actor for ONE day of rehearsal?

It costs almost a thousand dollars to hire a professional photographer and videographer to archive the production? This is important and necessary support material which we need to apply for future funding.

The arts and creative industries generate $66 million in expenditures each year? They contribute 93.8% of this back to the LOCAL economy.

We are also pleased to offer some amazing rewards, including an array of Sarasvàti swag, a poster signed by the local cast, an exclusive meet and greet with the actors and even a backstage tour! Don’t forget, we also offer a charitable tax receipt to all those who make a contribution of $10.00 or more.

Help support Sarasvàti Productions and make an online donation today! Donations are also gladly accepted through our office by either cheque or cash. For more information please visit our website or give us a call at 204-586-2236.

Maria Irene Fornes believes her plays are about “teaching something that is, that exists, but is not telling what to do about it. To indicate what the next step should be, what to do next is a political action and not the function of art at all. The function of art is to reveal.”

IWW Thank You!

Thank-You-word-cloud-1024x791-388x300

Packed audiences, 10 young actors, 10 writers and plenty of community hospitality – including cheesecake! Last week, Sarasvàti Productions helped celebrate International Women’s Week once again with our 10th Cabaret of Monologues event! With two sold out public performances and several community presentations throughout Winnipeg and the surrounding area, this year was certainly one of our best yet. The response from audience members has been very inspiring and we would like to thank all of you who joined us to hear the voices of these young women, to explore the challenges they face in today’s society, and be inspired by the ways they Rise Up.

Shanley Spence, Ashley Kowalchuk, Hailley Rhoda and Ali Tataryn getting ready to perform at the U of W's IWGS event!We were invited to help celebrate Int’l Women’s Week on campus with The University of Manitoba’s Womyn’s Centre and The University of Winnipeg’s Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies. Both groups consisted of engaged audience members, many of whom were young up-and-coming female leaders themselves with a desire to create change in their communities.

We also had the opportunity to travel out to Selkirk and help the many supporters of Nova House celebrate the week. Nova House is a shelter for abused women and children in the Interlake Region of Manitoba. They provide temporary shelter, counselling, support groups, and referral to community resources. It was such a pleasure to perform at this fundraiser for an organization that is doing so much to help women in their community. We were also set to venture out to Gimli to help the Interlake Women’s Resource Centre celebrate. Unfortunately, due to the snow storm and unsafe highway conditions, the event was canceled. We do hope to be able to reschedule the event in the future.IWW Selkirk

The West Central Women’s Resource Centre in Winnipeg also brought us out for an afternoon performance! The WCRC exists to empower women to help themselves, their families and their community to safer, healthier lifestyles. This performance was met by avid audience members who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to attend a professional theatre production.

We would also like to extend our appreciation to those involved in “The Girls Project” at Kanikanichihk in Winnipeg. “The Girls Project” is a program that aims at building leadership in young Aboriginal women in the community between the ages of 15—21. Many of the girls involved in the project attended the event while others chose to volunteer as box office attendants and ushers.

IWW_Oscar Selfie

The official theme for this year’s IWD was “Inspiring Change”. We hope these stories inspired you to make change in some way, shape or form! Thank you once again to everyone who helped make this event a huge success. We couldn’t have done it without you. Stay tuned for our final production of the 2013/2014 season. The much anticipated Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes will run from May 22nd – June 1st and will feature and entire cast of 8 incredible local female theatre artists! Mark your calendars, save the date or book now! With only 60 seats per performance, this one-of-a-kind production it is bound to sell out fast.

SYTYCA Presents: Kris Laudien

SYTYCA 2014 promo banner cropped

Broadcasting live is certainly different then performing in front of an audience on stage. But will being the co-host of a live morning show give Kris Laudien an advantage? Find out at our 3rd annual So You Think You Can Act on February 19th at the Gas Station Arts Centre. Keep reading to find out more about Kris, one of our seven local celebrity participants. Kris will take on the role of Peter in an excerpt from Good Intentions written by local playwright Ginny Collins! Ginny is a member of Winnipeg’s Group of 7 female playwrights. Sound familiar? Good Intentions premiered at the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre back in the fall. You won’t want to miss Kris Laudien in this hilarious scene!

Peter just isn’t good at asking a beautiful women out on a date. Will he get the girl?

Kris Laudien – CTV Morning Live Anchor

Kris Laudien - HeadshotKris Laudien joined CTV Winnipeg in the summer of 2011 as the station’s co-host of CTV Morning Live. He was born in Europe, but grew up in Vancouver, B.C. During his senior year, Kris was voted most likely to host a talk show by his high school peers. After spending a year at University, he followed that advice by jumping to the Broadcast Program at BCIT in Vancouver. Before joining CTV, Kris was a sports anchor in Edmonton and spent many years in radio including a memorable 4-year stint as the morning show co-host & producer of Mojo Radio in Vancouver. Kris says interviewing Prime Minister Paul Martin, covering the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs and 2010 Winter Olympics are the highlights of his career so far. Outside of work, Kris enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle when the weather permits. He also loves movies and travelling, especially in Central and South America.

Will the trophy go to the football player, comedien, journalist, or live news anchor? YOU get to decide only at So You Think You Can Act! Tickets to this entertaining evening are $25 and include a wine reception after the show. All funds raised will go towards supporting the transformative theatre work of Sarasvàti Productions, including our spring production and Winnipeg premiere of Fefu and Her Friends by Maria Irene Fornes in May 2014. Help support local arts and purchase your tickets today.

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