Come One, Come All – FemFest is Great Transformative Theatre!

img_20160917_160757Wow! What a whirlwind week it’s been so far and just three more days to catch shows that likely won’t be seen again in Winnipeg!

The first day of FemFest 2016 kicked off with a moving premiere performance of The Seduction Theory and full house for the Opening Night Cabaret!

The Seduction Theory actors Hailley Rhoda, Hannah Wigglesworth, Merri-Lou Paterson and Grant Burr brought Sherry’s and director Hope McIntyre’s vision to life and wowed audiences in the first few days of the fest. The opening production also featured a special talkback, where audiences discussed on-going issues facing young women in the 1950s and today.

The Cabaret was a blast – with back-to-back spectacular performances from some of Winnipeg’s best in theatre, comedy, music, film and dance!

On day two, Winnipeg’s theatre and comedy community got silly with Morro & Jasp! The clown duo, Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee, took eighteen emerging clowns under their wing with their Impulse and Play: Discovering your Inner Clown workshop. They continue their comedy streak in Winnipeg, with performances of Morro & Jasp do Puberty until Thursday.

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Janet Taylor Bake-Off Award winner Jessy Ardern with Janet Taylor’s family

Monday night’s Bake-Off gave audiences something to laugh and cry about! Taking ingredients duct tape, unbridled passion and class and turning it into this year’s Bake-Off Audience Choice, was playwright Jessy Ardern with her scene Kit and Joe. Jessy received the Janet Taylor Bake-Off award of $500. Congrats to all the playwrights who were chosen for the Bake-Off!

 

Don’t miss out on the last chance to catch some great transformative theatre (or see it all again!)

Morro & Jasp Do Puberty
Thursday, Sept. 22, 1 pm
This is your last chance to see Morro & Jasp Do Puberty at FemFest. Check out what audiences are talking about with the clown sister’s hilarious look at growing up! A definite must-see for anyone who loves to laugh (which is basically everyone)!

Mouthpiece
Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 pm | Friday, Sept. 23, 9 pm
This artistic piece encapsulates the ups-and-downs and swirls of thoughts that go through a young woman’s head as she deals with a life-altering tragedy. It’s first performance at FemFest was met with a standing ovation for the incredible performances. It is riveting, powerful and truly a masterclass in acting.

Miss Understood
Thursday, Sept. 22, 9 pm | Friday, Sept. 23, 7 pm | Saturday, Sept. 24, 9 pm
Spoken-word poet, Antonette Rea takes you on an emotional journey through her life lived in isolation and discrimination as a trans* woman in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. This one is sure to bring you to tears. Help us welcome this show from Vancouver and our first trans* artist to FemFest!!

Poetry Reading with Antonette Rea
Saturday, Sept. 24, 1 pm, Bison Books, 424 Graham Ave.
Meet Antonette Rea and hear excerpts from her work. This free poetry reading takes place at Bison Books and will include a special Q&A session.

SHORTs Showcase
Saturday, Sept. 24, 3 pm, Garbonzo’s University of Winnipeg AnX, 471 Balmoral St.
New this year is the SHORTs Showcase. Catch all nine SHORTs from the Short-List all in one sitting! This will be a riot of laughs, tears and heart-stopping stories.

The Seduction Theory
Saturday, Sept. 24, 7pm
This will be your last chance to see The Seduction Theory on the FemFest stage. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this world premiere.

For tickets and more information, please visit femfest.ca or call 204-586-2236. Tickets are also available at the door.

Eight Days of Life-Changing Theatre

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Let the countdown begin! In less than two days we’ll be taking over the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (The University of Winnipeg) to showcase the best in Canadian theatre by women for everyone. You bet we are beyond excited for FemFest 2016: Transformation!

Featuring everything from the real-life struggles of a trans* poet, the inner battle of a woman’s mind, a clown-duo’s growing pains, to the damaging treatment of young girls; FemFest 2016 is jam-packed with plays that celebrate unfaltering female strength and power. Our 14th annual festival is guaranteed to captivate and take you on an emotional journey! Here’s the festival breakdown to help you plan your FemFest filled week!

Playwright Reading by Sherry MacDonald
Sept. 16, 1pm. John J. Conklin Theatre (University of Manitoba)
Sherry MacDonald will be presenting a free public reading from her work. This is your opportunity to hear from the celebrated professional playwright from Vancouver and ask questions!

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The Seduction Theory
Photo: Janet Shum

The Seduction Theory by Sherry MacDonald
Sept. 17th – 24th – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Find out the fate of a 15-year old in the 1950s when she becomes too much to handle at home. This powerful drama delves into our society’s criminalization and sexual exploitation of young underprivileged girls. The Seduction Theory was the winner of the FemFest 2015 Bake-Off and the 2016 Special Merit Award from the Theatre BC Playwriting competition.

Opening Cabaret and Reception
Sept. 17th, 7pm – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Hosted by Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Lara Rae, the Opening Night Cabaret is our annual variety show showcasing some of Winnipeg’s best female artists in theatre, film, music, visual arts and dance. It wouldn’t be a party without food and beverages! The cabaret includes dinner by Garbonzo’s U of Winnipeg AnX, dessert by Baked Expectations, wine from Banville & Jones Wine Co. and coffee from Starbucks.

Bake-Off
Sept. 19th, 7 pm – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Coordinated and directed by Cairn Moore – In partnership with the Manitoba Association of Playwrights. We challenged five selected playwrights with three “must-have” ingredients and eight hours to cook up their own ten-minute theatrical treats! With this year’s ingredients of “duct tape, unbridled passion, and class,” you won’t want to miss what these young emerging playwrights came up with.

SHORTS
Sept. 19th – 24th, 8:15pm – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Special SHORTs Showcase – Sept. 24th, 3pm – Garbonzo’s (U of Winnipeg AnX)
Every night at 8:15pm, audiences can treat themselves to a staged reading of a SHORT from the Shortlist. These ten-minute excerpts/scenes will be presented in between the evening’s 7pm and 9pm shows. With 9 selected shorts, each night will be different. New this year is the SHORTs showcase. On Sept. 24th at 3 pm, audiences can see all nine shorts at once at Garbonzo’s.

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Morro and Jasp Do Puberty
Sept. 20th-22nd

Morro and Jasp Do Puberty by Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee
Sept. 20th – 22nd – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Clown sisters Morro and Jasp hilariously take you through the trials and tribulations of growing up! From uncontrollable emotions and raging hormones to the pain and strain of bodily functions, the smash hit is sure to induce some side-splitting laughter!

 

Mouthpiece by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava
Sept 21st – 23rd – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Interweaving a cappella harmonies, dissonance, text and physicality, Mouthpiece expresses the emotional conflict that exists within a woman’s head: the push and the pull, the past and the present, the progress and the regression.

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Miss Understood
Sept. 22nd – 24th

Miss Understood by Antonette Rea
Sept. 22nd – 24th – Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Vancouver’s spoken-word poet and activist, Antonette Rea is a survivor. Having lived through horrific experiences of marginalization and abuse as a trans* person, Rea has turned that pain into a beautiful eye-opening piece about struggle, triumph and compassion. Miss Understood is a theatrical poem based on her incredible life story.

Poetry Reading by Antonette Rea
Sept. 24, 1pm – Bison Books (424 Graham Ave.)
Antonette Rea will be doing a free public reading at Bison Books. The celebrated trans* woman street poet will read from her collection of works. Her words are powerful and her personality brings life to every word. This is a unique chance to hear her in Winnipeg.

Grab your tickets to FemFest 2016: Transformation at femfest.ca or by calling 204-586-2236. Tickets are selling fast, so get yours early! Subscription packages are also available and include passes to FemFest 2016 and tickets to the rest of the exciting Sarasvati Productions 2016/17 Season!

Teasing out Taboos

Guest Post by Morro and Jasp do Puberty creators/performers Amy Lee and Heather Marie Annis

“I was just going to the bathroom and my whole life changed forever – now every month I am basically dead for a week” – Morro

Why would two clowns put on a show about periods? Well, let’s look at a few situations to answer that:

We are talking to a friend on the street about flow and she says “Eww too much info”; buying tampons at the grocery store, the teenage boy at the checkout counter gives us uncomfortable looks; when we need it the most, there is no sign on the subway that says “Priority seating for those having severe menstrual cramps who may vomit from the pain.”

morro_and_jasp_do_puberty-web-650x650So many people deal with periods. Like half of them (actually 49.5% according to the World Bank estimate in 2015). So what gives?! Get over it. We have blood that comes out of our vaginas every 28 days or so – give or take depending on multiple factors like hormonal imbalances and/or stress or how regular one’s flow is (one time one of us skipped for three months because she was really not sleeping well and another time the other menstruated for a month straight). Basically it’s a pretty sensitive ecosystem and even what you eat can affect it – and it’s biological! Sometimes it sucks and it is a bodily secretion which needs maintenance and care and sometimes it’s freaking painful but that doesn’t mean we should feel ashamed or like it’s something we can’t talk about openly. A history of cultural shifts, perspectives and practices have led us to feeling grossed out by periods and as though it should be a big dirty secret, but it’s time to work on changing that and celebrating the shared experience that really affects the entire global population (in one way or another).

What is theatre for if not to reach into the deep dark corners of our minds and beings and shine a light on the cobwebs that reside there? … Well not cobwebs exactly, but uneasy, queasy, not-so-comfortable feelings.

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Photo credit: Jim Moore

When we first debuted this show at the Winnipeg Fringe in 2008, we were nervous beyond belief. After years of doing kids’ shows featuring our clown alter egos, we were having crisis after crisis about doing something so yucky and intimate. But we were blown away by the response. Of course, there was the odd person who was rather grossed out by it all, but for the most part, the feedback we got was about how relatable it was. This slowly started to peel back the layer of taboo that wrapped the subject of menstruation like an under-ripe banana peel. Then when we performed the show in Toronto in 2009, we still had fear about bringing periods into the spotlight, but were buoyed by the response we’d had in Winnipeg. After that run, an 85-year-old woman thanked us for doing the show and said, “In my day, we couldn’t talk about those things. This was liberating.”

Though it seems strange that talking about such a commonplace experience should be liberating, our experience at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer reminded us that it is still a risque topic for a lot of people. People’s reactions varied: from being so grossed out by the poster that they didn’t even want to see the show; to seeing the show and admitting (sometimes publicly in reviews) that they were still uncomfortable with the subject of the body; to being excited to celebrate periods with us. But the complicated reactions to the subject matter just reminded us how important it is to keep doing this show. And to keep making theatre that confronts all the things we, as artists and members of society, may find yucky or difficult or “off-limits”, because that’s where the juiciest material lives (no pun intended… maybe a little intended).

We are excited to see how Winnipeg reacts to the show today in 2016. Hopefully lots of people come out to celebrate the body with us because it’ll make for a fun party. We also hope, however, that people who feel uncomfortable with menstruation come out and are able to laugh and feel all the feelings surrounding the topic with us – after all, we did write the show out of those conflicting feelings of celebration and unease, grappling with them in ourselves as creators and writers.

“It’s a beautiful time for a woman where womanness is blooming and reaching its fullest womanly potential” – Jasp

Catch this hilarious look at the best period of your life, Morro and Jasp do Puberty at FemFest 2016, September 17 – 24, 2016 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. For tickets visit femfest.ca or call 205-586-2336.

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