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!

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.


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!


Cast Announced for The Naked Woman!

The Naked Woman, by local playwright, Rebecca Gibson, wasn’t the easiest FemFest production to cast. It takes an extremely dedicated and daring female artist to fit with a character who’s described as an almost naked 84 year-old. We are pleased to announce that we have found the perfect actress to take on this ambitious role and the perfect actor to work alongside her.

Fefu (2)

Nan Fewchuk in Fefu and Her Friends

Nan Fewchuk, who played Paula in our recent production of Fefu and Her Friends, will step into the non-existent pants of The Naked Woman’s lead character, Helen Schumer. And Grant Burr will play Dennis Rosner, Helen’s deceased husband’s trusted lawyer.


Grant Burr in Flood Control

Now that the cast of this wonderfully bizarre, humorous play is known. You will have to come see The Naked Woman at FemFest to learn how we’ve decided to transform Nan into a naked 84 year old.

Read on for a behind the scenes glimpse at our two performers and make sure to visit www.femfest.ca to reserve your tickets for what is sure to be a popular FemFest production!

Nan Headshot 1

Featuring Nan Fewchuk as Helen


Nan is terrified to be 84 and as naked as she’ll ever be on stage! Recently, Nan played Paula in Fefu and Her Friends, and she is currently performing in Quo Vadis at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Last year Nan assistant directed, Jail Baby, and 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 (Sarasvàti), Or,, Eleemosynary and A Phoenix Too Frequent (Winnipeg Fringe). Nan is grateful to be doing what she loves, and thanks her family and friends.

Fun Facts:

1. If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you love to do?
Wow…I can’t think of anything I love more.

2. What is the last book that you read?
Joni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell by Katherine Monk

3. What superhero would you be if you could? Or what superpower do you wish you had?
Maya Angelou reincarnated

4. Anything else you’d like to add:
I like my wings “Naked”.


Grant Burr

 Featuring Grant Burr as Dennis


Grant Burr is excited to again be a part of FemFest, this time in the premiere of The Naked Woman by Rebecca Gibson. The University of Winnipeg honours acting program graduate performed in Flood Control at last year’s festival. Burr is currently appearing at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in Union Station Theatre’s production of Shadow Spaces. Selected credits include The Cherry Orchard (Theatre by the River and Little Echo Theatre), Celebration (UWTSA), and The Dog It Was That Died (Dimestore Watch Theatre Works). He has appeared previously at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in Hands On (2006) and Thom Pain (2013).

Fun Facts:

1. If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you love to do?
I would love to travel the world.

2. What is the last book that you read?
I just read Dr Suess at bedtime tonight!

3. What superhero would you be if you could?
Or what superpower do you wish you. I always love flying in my dreams. Give me some wings!

FemFest 2013 A Big Hit!

Sarasvàti Productions would like to thank everyone who helped make FemFest 2013: Revelation and Revolution a huge success! Every year we are blown away by the amount of support and encouragement we recieve from our audience members and from the community. It is because of you we are able to produce this important festival every year! Once again audiences were inspired, entertained and amazed by what FemFest had to offer. The festival also continues to be an invaluable showcase and opportunity for female artists. Today, our Bake-Off winner Rebecca Gibson speaks about her experience as one of the five playwrights chosen to mix-up a script with a list of ingredients in 8 hours. Rebecca’s scene “The Naked Woman” was chosen by our audience as the winner and will be developed as a full production for next year’s FemFest 2014: She’s Got the Power!

How does rebeccagibsonit feel to be this year’s Bake-Off winner? Will this be your first stage play?

Being the winner of the Bake-Off makes me feel grateful. I’ve felt grateful throughout this process – even reading the request for  submissions, which was a call to action. I do write plays (I’ll have one produced this November at Glenlawn Collegiate Institute), but I’ve never thought of myself as a playwright. Sitting in the theatre and hearing my name announced was surreal.

What was your initial reaction to the ingredients you were given (zombies, a dill pickle, and maniacle laugher)?

I had no expectations for the words, but I had a sense that whatever the words were, they would be right for the piece that I had (loosely) in my mind. When Cairn Moore (Bake-Off Coordinator and Director) announced the first word, I teared up. It was exactly right. So were the other two.

What was your process like during the 8 hours you had to write the scene?

I write all the time (for film and TV), so I had a feeling that I could get a scene done in the allotted time. I think I delivered it within three hours of the start of day -it came easily. What I didn’t expect was how many times throughout that day I’d re-read the scene, wait for an email from Cairn, wait for Cairn to give notes… That was the hardest part of the process! Letting go!

What was your favorite part about being involved in this year’s Bake-Off?

My favourite part of being involved in the Bake-Off was being chosen. I was so nervous to apply. When I sent in the application package, I thought it would get lost in the mail (for some reason I crammed everything into a standard size envelope, which looked like a sausage ready to burst). Being in the company of the great playwrights who were also chosen was one of the highlights of my life. It felt like a message – you can do this.

And lastly, have you started working on the full script yet?

I have started working on the full-script, but not much. I dreamed about this concept many years ago – it was extremely vivid. The play would be called “The Naked Woman”. It would be on Broadway starring Richard Kind and Frances Sternhagen (specific dream, eh?). I NEVER have prophetic dreams, or dreams about stuff I’ll write. But I did, and now I can’t wait to get to serious work on this play and see it at FemFest 2014: She’s Got the Power!

Thank you once again to everyone involved in this years FemFest! We truly could not have done it without you. Tune in next week for FemFest 2013 highlights and audience responses.