Brownies, nudity, shoes and toilet paper – another successful FemFest!

We had some great times at the 12th annual FemFest: She’s Got the Power, and we were definitely feeling the power of everyone who made it all possible. Our generous donors, our amazing artists, our wonderful volunteers, and our supportive audiences made this FemFest a truly special one to celebrate the power within us all.

Michaela Di Cesare

Michaela Di Cesare

Tara Travis’s Herewithal: a paranormal comedy kicked off our closing weekend with some gooey brownies, a little too gooey, but just a little opening night hiccup, they were perfect for her other two shows. And next we got to see Michaela Di Cesare’s touching one woman show 8 Ways My Mother was Conceived for the last time before she headed back to Montreal (bearing Winnipeg souvenirs for her angelic husband).

The next night Nan Fewchuk and Grant Burr got to put on their old age make up one last time for The Naked Women’s final show. It was a little bittersweet, however both Nan and Grant are happy to be snuggly back in their clothes with winter approaching.

Grant Testing Out His Make Up

Grant and his Make Up

On Saturday winter was far from our minds as we had a crazy final day! At 1:30pm the last salt & pepper shakers were smashed and the last cookie crumbs were gobbled at the closing of Launched before returning Winnipegger Rubena Sinha wove her beautiful folktales and personal stories together with Phoebe Man’s unique music for their last Winnipeg show.

The Talentless Lumps

The Talentless Lumps

Finally Janis and Jujube showed us a marvelous evening that gave Miley Cyrus a run for her money, and kept us all laughing as they introduced 5 wonderful female artists to the stage for the Closing Cabaret. We all loved seeing Alexandra Elliot’s beautiful dancing, hearing Adi Sara Kreindler’s health care musical numbers, and laughing at Heather Witherden’s jokes. We also got to see some beautiful art and a new comic performance from the Talentless Lumps, although they left masses of toilet paper to be swept up, they sure made us laugh.

All in all it was a great festival and we couldn’t have done it without all of you, so thank you all. And we hope to see each and every one of you back for FemFest 2015: Hear Her Roar! So artists, start preparing your submissions to get in on the next awesome FemFest.

On the 6th Day of FemFest

It is the 6th day of FemFest and so far we’ve had 5 Readings read, 4 hours of workshops, 3 Presented pieces performed, 2 world premieres and 1 Bake-Off winner! Plus an awesome Opening Cabaret and Reception with over 20 artists, but who’s counting. Here’s a closer look at the highlights from the first 5 days of FemFest and a peek at what the other 3 days have to offer!

Prairie Caravan

Prairie Caravan

On the 1st Day of FemFest…We got FemFest going with two contrasting readings in the afternoon, Alison Mclean’s Skin Deep had a guitar, lots of tattoos (even for the audience) and laughter. Priscilla Yakielashek’s German Silver featured strong performances as the actors tackled the complex issue of genocide. Then it was belly dancers, music and saran wrapped bodies at the Opening Cabaret and Reception. Plus so much great food from Sorrento’s and Tall Grass! 

On the 2nd Day of FemFest…We had 10 emerging artists practice their storytelling skills with the guidance of guest artist Michaela Di Cesare in her workshop Storytellers are Superheroes before celebrating the world premiere of 2013 Bake-Off winner, Rebecca Gibson’s The Naked Woman. Audiences loved the theatrical portrayal of a naked 84 year old! You have to see it to believe it. There is only one more chance to see this heartwarming comedy, Friday September 19th at 7pm, don’t miss it!

Cheryl Gensiorke and Taesia Scrtach in Launched

Cheryl Gensiorke and Taesia Scrtach in Launched

On the 3rd Day of FemFest…We got to see what our 5 wonderful playwrights cooked up with Cairn Moore and 5 fabulous actors in our 3rd annual Bake-Off that was in honour of the lovely Janet Taylor. She was dearly missed, but all the artists did her proud and it was a night full of delightful surprises as the actors danced, taught each other something and dressed up. In the end it was up to the audience to crown the winner, and they chose emerging artist Frances Koncan! We can’t wait to see how she’ll turn her funny high school Halloween dance party scene into a full length play for FemFest 2015! After all that excitement we just kept it going right into our first Shorts reading and the world premiere of Launched by Tyler White! Cake, cookies, manicures and smashing salt and pepper shakers left the audience highly entertained.

Phoebe Man

Phoebe Man in River

On the 4th Day of FemFest…We got to see two of our presented pieces for the first time! First up was Rubena Sinha’s moving drama River. Audiences loved the powerful interweaving of music, sound, dance and storytelling. Playwright Crystal Wood was in town for her Shorts reading from Grief Circus. Afterwards a standing ovation for 8 Ways My Mother was Conceived by Michaela Di Cesare, a fascinating look at how stories are passed down through the generations. If you missed River you’ve got two more chances to see it, this afternoon, September 18th at 2:30pm and September 20th at 3pm!

On the 5th Day of FemFest…We had our busiest day yet! Tara Travis presented at the University of Winnipeg’s The Real Thing Lecture series, then Michaela Di Cesare performed a matinee of 8 Ways My Mother was Conceived, then Tara taught a bunch of artists how to puppet, Muppet style, and Launched and The Naked Woman did their second shows. Oh, and in between we had a Shorts reading too! Then it was nap time.

Tara Travis in Herewithal: a paranormal comedy

Tara Travis in Herewithal: a paranormal comedy

 

And On the 6th Day of FemFest…Well, you’ll have to come see for yourself! Whether you want to take a break in the afternoon to catch River or if you want to be there for the opening of Tara Travis’s Herewithal: a paranormal comedy (and eat brownies), we can promise you a fun and inspiring time! Don’t forget to get your tickets here!

 

T-Minus…to FemFest Take-Off

It feels sort of crazy, but FemFest is only 9 days away! We can’t wait to show you what our writers, directors and actors have been working on. To make sure you start off your FemFest right, here are the top 5 reasons you should check out the opening weekend:

 

  1. We All Could Use a Little Rebellion in Our Lives

Join 19 year old rebel, Joanna, as her mother’s second wedding puts her face to face with a strapless bridesmaid’s gown in the reading of Alison Mclean’s play, Skin Deep. Come see exactly how Joanna deals with this Saturday, September 13th at 1pm!

 

  1. Powerful Drama

Watch as a group of strangers spend their last hours together questioning those they’ve chosen to die with in this reading of Priscilla Yakielashek’s German Silver. This play explores the struggles of dignity and humanity while facing the end. Don’t miss it on Saturday, September 13th at 3pm

 

  1. Food & Fun, What More Could You Want?

Our Opening Cabaret & Reception has it all! Art, dance, stand up, film, music and more! Not to mention tasty food from Sorrento’s and Tall Grass. Join the fun Saturday, September 13th at 7pm!

 

  1. Who Says You Can’t Be a Superhero?

Unleash your superpowers through the magic of storytelling with guest artist Michaela Di Cesare in her workshop Storytellers are Superheroes. She will guide participants through writing exercises for them to come away with at least one original story that can be performed. Come learn about the amazing skill of storytelling Sunday, September 14th at 1pm! Spots are limited, contact wren@sarasvati.ca to register.

 

  1. Tough Old Broads Know the Meaning of Life

In Rebecca Gibson’s The Naked Woman, when 84 year old Helen losses her husband, she decides to stop wearing clothes. Everyone thinks she is overcome with grief or beginning to go senile, but come find out for yourself what the real reason is Sunday, September 14th at 7pm.

 

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With all of these wonderful events starting off the festival, it’s sure to be an amazing FemFest. To make sure you don’t miss out on a great weekend, get your tickets now! For tickets to all of these events and more, click here. We can’t wait to see you out there!

Unleash Your Inner Muppet and Find Your Super Power

This year for FemFest we have extremely talented artists coming to share their stories, and some of them would like to help you tell yours! Everyone deserves an opportunity for their stories to be heard regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural background. This is why Sarasvàti Productions is dedicated to supporting all emerging artists as they grow and develop their skills. Whether you are interested in good old fashioned storytelling, telling your stories through the mouths of fuzzy puppets or just listening to someone else’s creative process, this year’s FemFest touring artists have something for you. Read on to learn more about the workshops and lecture that will foster unique theatrical education and social awareness. And stay tuned for exciting emerging artist programming all season as we welcome Emerging Artist in Residence Wren Hookey to the staff team!

Michaela croppedStorytellers are Superheroes facilitated by touring artist, Michaela Di Cesare
Sunday, September 14th 1pm-3pm $15 fee; contact wren@sarasvati.ca to register (please note registration is limited)

What superpower have you always wanted? Turning back time, telling the future, mind reading, x-ray vision? What if I told you all of these are possible achievements through the magic of storytelling? Well, maybe not x-ray vision. In this workshop you will learn how the storyteller shapes and influences history and how to unleash the power of your personal stories. Participants will come away with at least one original story that can be performed, as well as a toolkit of skills that can be built on for future storytelling greatness. Participants must be comfortable with performance, improvisation and sharing personal stories.

Learn to Puppet, Muppet Style!
facilitated by touring artist, Tara TravisTara and puppet
Wednesday, September 17th 4:30pm-6:30pm $15 fee; contact wren@sarasvati.ca to register (please note registration is limited)

Professional actor/puppeteer Tara Travis teaches the basics of hand and rod (“Muppet”-style) puppetry. Students will apply their knowledge of physical theatre to the art of puppetry as they explore the many elements of bringing a puppet to life. Students are encouraged to bring their own puppets from home if they’d like to learn how to get the most life out of them! Rehearsal puppets and “Basics of Puppetry” booklet provided by the instructor. http://www.stickyfingersproductions.org @TaraCreative

The Real Thing Lecture
September 18th, 12:30-1:20pm

Sponsored by the University of Winnipeg Department of Theatre and Film, The Real Thing lecture will provide emerging artists with the opportunity to get a sense of what the theatre industry is really like. The lecture will be delivered by Tara Travis, a playwright, puppeteer and performer from Vancouver, BC with years of experience in all facets of the theatre industry. Don’t miss this fun factual, and free learning opportunity!

Sarasvàti is dedicated to offering relevant and affordable skill development opportunities for emerging artists, which is why the FemFest workshops are only $15 each! The Real Thing Lecture is sponsored by the University of Winnipeg Theatre and Film Department, and is free, just show up to claim a seat. For more information or to reserve a spot in one of the workshops please email: wren@sarasvati.ca

Who’s Got The Power?

How many different ways is power represented in our everyday lives? And what special connotations does the word power hold for women? Sarasvàti Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre explains why ‘She’s Got The Power’ was chosen as this year’s FemFest theme. Read on for teasers about the productions that will bring the theme to life.

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Hope&Patrick at Villains&VixensOver the twelve years of FemFest one thing has become clear, the festival is empowering. We set out to provide showcasing opportunities to female playwrights but it has become much more than that. It’s an event that gives voice to artists, to community groups and to issues that are usually left behind closed doors. When we selected ‘She’s Got the Power’ as this year’s theme, it led to very interesting conversations about what power means. We knew immediately we weren’t talking about the power of the fist, an image that often pops up as if synonymous with strength. The power we wanted to explore was much more than physical. It is the power to look at the truth, to speak the pain and beauty of life and ultimately the power that comes from being open to sharing one’s story. The female artists we are showcasing this year have shown great strength. They’ve been empowered, healed and found their identities by facing the past, their fears and the ridiculousness of life. In turn the audience will also be empowered as they are transformed by seeing a new perspective, which may in turn educate them or reassure them that they are not alone. The power of the work is that it can inspire audiences to speak out in the same way that the artists have. Plus there is amazing power in the coming together of people, as a community, to share an experience, share laughter, share a journey…

In the beautiful new script by Rebecca Gibson, The Naked Woman, that I have the joy of directing,lightning bolt Helen asks “What is more powerful than a naked woman?” Unfortunately the female body has been objectified and used to make woman feel weak, but metaphorically Helen is right – what is more powerful than someone confidently standing there completely open, without fear, shame or hesitation? All the woman featured this year in FemFest do exactly that. Michaela Di Cesare pursues the truth about her heritage in order to be able to move forward; Tara Travis turns to the paranormal to find the answers she needs and a damn good brownie recipe; Rubena Sinha uses art to deal with the trauma of both her daughter’s sexual assault and her husband’s death; and in the world premiere of Launched Tyler White asks the question is it ever too late to follow your dreams. Plus the cabaret evenings will offer some rockin’ and powerful female artists!

Of course the audience is such an important part of the equation. You truly have the power. Let’s send a clear message that women’s stories, women’s empowerment and great art are valuable.

For more information about FemFest 2014: She’s Got The Power, visit our website www.femfest.ca and make sure to purchase tickets for the shows that interest you!