Welcome to the Team!

This week, we are excited to welcome our two summer students who will be busy preparing for the 13th annual FemFest! Alexei Hiebert is our new Production Assistant and Erica Hoiss is the Community Outreach Assistant. They’ve hit the ground running and we’re eager to see the great work they will bring to our next season! 

Erica is a graduate student in Peace and Conflict Studies at University of Manitoba. Originally from Red Deer, Alberta, she is an actor and Forum Theatre facilitator and is doing her thesis research in participatory theatre for peacebuilding. Erica recently volunteered to organize the 10th annual Winnipeg International Storytelling Festival and will be performing in the Fringe this summer in A Beautiful View with Snakeskin Jacket. 

Alexei is currently studying Theatre at the University of Winnipeg and is so excited to be working with Sarasvati Productions for the summer. Exploring as many different fields of theatre as they can, Alexei has a special love for production. They have worked on such shows as UofW’s Enchanted April, Semi-Monde, and The Cassilis Engagement. In addition to theatre, Alexei is a book worm and an aspiring visual artist. They have been featured in the Kelowna Art Gallery in British Columbia three times in the past. 

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And tech week for Miss N Me is upon us! We’ve moved in to the theatre today and finally get to climb into the plumbers van. If you want to see how we’ve managed to get a van onstage, get your tickets now! Just one week until opening! 

Have you checked out all of the MNM Lip Sync Battle videos yet? Stayed tuned for the announcement of the winners!

Behind the Scenes of Miss N Me!

They may work behind the scenes, but we could not do it without our fabulous designers and production team. Learn more about our Miss N Me stage manager who has been keeping rehearsals running smoothly, as well as our lighting and sound designers who have been given a huge challenge with a complex script.

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Ainza Bellefeuille, Stage Manager

What is your favourite play? Wicked

What job would you most like to do if you weren’t working in theatre? Electrician

What is your favourite thing to do on your day off? Being outside BBQing and reading a book.

Where would you love to travel? The moon. But realistically, I would love to back pack through Europe.

If you had to sing one song on American Idol, what would it be? Without Love from the musical Hairspray.

What would you do if you won a million dollars? Buy myself a house and invest the rest.

If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would they be? A machete, blanket and pot with lid.

James Jansen, Sound Designer

What is your favourite play? Fancymud by Le Frenchword (Seattle)

What job would you most like to do if you weren’t working in theatre? Well theatre is only a small part of what I do.  When I’m not working in theatre, I’m working in dance, film, music or sound.

What is your favourite thing to do on your day off? Catch up on work.

Where would you love to travel? Japan and Iceland.

If you had to sing one song on American Idol, what would it be? My Way… ala sid vicious

What would you do if you won a million dollars? Pay off some debt, buy a studio, invest in some equipment, donate the rest to some of my favorite orgs.

If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would they be? Electrical infrastructure, adequate housing, internet access.  (is that cheating)

Anything else you’d like to add: I’m excited to work on this project and can’t wait to see how this strange script comes to life.  We have a solid team who I’m looking forward to working with and I think will definitely do the piece justice.

Dean Cowieson, Lighting Designer

What is your favourite play? Always current one I’m working on.

What job would you most like to do if you weren’t working in theatre? Travel writer.

What is your favourite thing to do on your day off? Get caught up.

Where would you love to travel? Everywhere – next goal is South America generally.

If you had to sing one song on American Idol, what would it be? Inda Godda Davida

What would you do if you won a million dollars? travel

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

Have you seen the Lip Sync videos from the team! It’s not too late to submit to the competition for a chance to win amazing prizes. Check out the details.

Don’t forget to get your tickets!

The Missy Elliott Factor

Some of you may be wondering, why Missy Elliott? Why would two-time Governor General Award winning playwright Catherine Banks write a play so heavily influenced by Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott? Well, there’s no need for us to answer for her! Below is a letter that Catherine sent to Missy Elliott to express her gratitude and how the play Miss N Me came about:

There is a poem I love by Yosano Akiko that begins “The day the mountains move has come” and ends “All the sleeping women are now awake and moving.” The first time I heard your lyrics you lit a fire that ignited my frozen core. Instant lava spilled out of me;—-awe, joy, surprise—I was so amazed that you were straight-up saying these wildly wonderful things.

“Real big butts make ya man wanna look (OH!)

Back it up, flip it up, skinny girls – eugh!” gave me my first real belly laugh in too many years. Honest to God, ridiculous, BUT TRUE!—–Oh, those words hit me in the sternum—– that a man would want to look at me if I had a great big butt—cause everyone all 48 years before had told me to keep my butt shrink-wrapped.

Missy-Elliott-This-Is-Not-a-TestI bought all of your cds but This is Not A Test was the one I played over and over. I have bought at least 10 copies since 2005—-I wear them all out.

Your lyrics lit up a path in NEON that I didn’t know I would be walking less than six month after I heard your music for the first time.

One day my life fell apart in one uttered sentence. I honestly don’t know if I could have made the journey from hearing that sentence to saying “No!” had I not been listening to your wisdom in the months before he said what he said.

My play is the seconds, hours, days, perhaps years that it takes a woman to go from the ending sentence she hears to learning she must save her own life.

The first time I read a scene from Miss N Me a theatre colleague said “What is it about 50 year old women and Missy Elliott.” I thought, “You mean it isn’t just me?” At that moment I realized that for all those months it had felt like you were talking just to me.

Catherine Banks

Catherine Banks

Your attitude so playful, honest, fearless and joyful—your lyrics about butts, relationships, knowing your worth and sex toys—-How all that made me feel is what I am trying to do with Miss N Me.

Because Dawna, the heroine, drives to NYC to ambush Missy I also drove to NYC. I listened to all your cds all the way—and it was fucking amazing! When I got to downtown Manhattan I felt like the king of the world—You are beyond amazing. Of course I didn’t get to meet you but what a gift to know you through your words. You are a true inspiration to me in every way. Thank you thank you thank you.

Now that you know all about how Miss N Me came to Catherine, check out the links below to learn about her writing process and how Miss N Me developed.

The first is a fun interview she gave way back in 2009, when she had just finished completing a draft of Miss N Me (called Missy and Me back then!): Umbrella Talk with playwright Catherine Banks

The second is a blog about a road trip she took to New York to help her add more realism to the play: Six Minutes Driving in Downtown Manhattan

The third article is an interview she gave after winning her second General Governor Award about her writing process: Catherine Banks – Governor General’s Literary Awards interview series

Tickets for the world premiere of Miss N Me are on sale now! You can either by tickets on line by clicking here or by phoning 204-586-2236.

Meet the Miss N Me Team!

They’ve all appeared in past shows with us, but you’ve never seen them like this before! We are super excited about the team that will be bringing our spring show to life. Catherine Banks (amazing two time Governor General Award winning playwright) has put the final touches on her newest play, Miss N Me, and entrusted us with the premiere . With the group of artists we have on board she will not be disappointed when the show opens on May 21st! Miss N Me is about Dawna, a hairdresser, who goes on a road trip to New York to meet her idol Missy Elliott and along the way she picks up a bunch of whacky hitch-hiking characters.

Melanie Whyte in Impromtu of Outremont

Melanie Whyte in The Impromtu of Outremont

We are thrilled to have Melanie Whyte taking the lead as Dawna! It has been far too long since we’ve worked together, ten years in fact! Melanie was in our TremblayFest production of The Impromptu of Outremont. Since then she’s been busy mostly using her singing talents in musicals such as Mary Poppins, Light on the Piazza and A Man of No Importance. She’s going to get to do a different type of singing in this play though. For her role as Dawna she’s going to have to channel her inner Missy Elliott and try out some rapping!

Kevin Gabel in EDEN

Kevin Gabel in EDEN

Playing Dawna’s teenage son, Justin, is Kevin Gabel. Kevin most recently partnered with Rana Bokhari in this year’s So You Think You Can Act competition, but three years before that he played another teenager in our production of Hope McIntyre’s EDEN. He is truly ageless and we’re happy he can still pull it off! But more recently Kevin has been playing older characters like the son in Theatre Project Manitoba’s production of Proud and Fred in Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels with Tara Players Theatre Company. Hopefully he’ll easily get back in touch with his inner teenager for Miss N Me!

Colin Connor & Alissa Watson in Harold and Vivan Entertain Guests

Colin Connor & Alissa Watson in Harold and Vivan Entertain Guests

Now here is where it gets crazy. The hysterical and talented Colin Connor and Alissa Watson will be teaming up again to play over eight crazy characters. Colin and Alissa have worked together on multiple occasions and make a great team. They just finished performing together in Theatre Incarnate’s Whitechapel Redemption, but before that they starred as the title characters in Jessy Ardern’s Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests as part of FemFest 2013! And before that they, again, played the title characters in The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine! Every time they appear onstage together they leave the audience in stitches and we’re sure it will be the same in Miss N Me. Among other characters Colin will be playing Fat Man, Clown Father, Adonis and Demetrius, while Alissa will be playing Clown Mother, Ms Excess Baggage, Mermaid and Fortune Terrorist.

Rounding out the creative team is Hope McIntyre directing with assistance from Angie St.Mars, set and costume designer Brenda McLean, lighting designer Dean Cowieson and sound designer James Jansen! All of the cast and crew have their work cut out for them in this whacky, imaginative play. Come see it May 21 to 31 at the UW Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Tickets are available online, just click here or phone 204-586-2236!