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!

 

The Secret Lives of FemFest Artists!

We asked the wonderful artists involved in FemFest 2014 some fun questions to learn what makes them tick. Here are a few of our favourite responses!


 

If you weren’t working in theatre, what would you love to do?

Alison Mclean, Playwright Skin Deep: Sometimes I think about starting a magazine, using real-sized women as models and focussing on fashion that is inexpensive and edgy. Maybe I’ll write a play about it instead…

Kaitlyn Kriss, Stage Manager for Cabarets and Shorts: I secured a management position at the ripe age of 20 and have worked 3 fringe shows (all in the same festival) while still holding down a job and not losing my mind. When I’m not working I generally can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends from 9pm till 6am

Ksenia Broda-Milian, Designer for the Naked Woman and Launched: I can’t imagine not working in theatre! If I couldn’t design, I’d like to direct and continue to teach and work as a scenic painter. I do have a degree in biology as well so I imagine if I had a non-theatre full-time job, I’d maybe be a geneticist, or studying plants

What was the last book you read?

Grant BurrGrant Burr, Actor in The Naked Woman: I just read Dr. Seuss at bedtime tonight!

What superhero would you be if you could? Or what superpower do you wish you had?

Elizabeth Whitbread, Actor in Shorts: I always love flying in my dreams. Give me some wings!

Taesia Scratch, Actor in Launched: Excellent question. Hulk Smash!

 

Rubena Sinha What do you want audiences to take away after viewing your work?

Rubena Sinha, Playwright and Performer in River: I want them to know that life is painful but it doesn’t have to destroy you. You can always find a way to renourish yourself.

To learn more about the rest of our faboulous FemFest artists and the work they are doing to make this year’s festival our best ever, visit our website, www.femfest.ca Make sure to purchase your FemFest tickets to the productions that interest you before they sell out.

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!

 

Inspirational, Heartwarming, Tragic—A FemFest production not to be missed

River is one of the more emotionally compelling stories at this year’s FemFest. We are honoured that River playwright, Rubena Sinha was willing to share the story behind the tragic yet heartwarming journey that inspired her writing process.

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Rubena Sinha

I am thrilled and honoured to be invited to share River at FemFest 2014 with musician and dear friend, Phoebe Man.

One day my daughter came home and said, Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson are collecting stories for the third volume of their anthology Dropped Threads, and would I like to write something for it?

At that time my husband was very ill. We had him at home, and I was with him all the time. That’s when I started thinking…so many years I have lived in Canada…I asked myself, what hashappened to me through this life?

I was very young when I came here, leaving my parents behind was a tremendous shock. I had to learn a new language, how to walk in the snow and most importantly, be independent in a way I had never been before. It was the first time I realized what freedom really means.

I found a home in the dance community in Winnipeg. Through them I was able to express my trueself; dance doesn’t need words. I also learned that no matter how far from your family you are, you bring something of them in you. That something was courage.

I didn’t know then how much I would need that courage later in my life. As I thought about my story, I realized how much courage I had drawn from…to live through the loss of my parents, my daughter’s rape and the suffering it brought my family and, how at that very moment, I was facing the loss of my husband.

That was six years ago. This piece, River, is the story of a search.

To find ourselves, we had to search within ourselves; and I found comfort and wisdom in the stories that came from the Mahabharata, from folklore… and my grandmother. River is also drawn from love. When death came we had to let him go, but in that letting go, we found strength in taking care of each other and in how much we loved him. Though River is the story of my journey, it is mine only in the details. It belongs to you in every way, as together we look for meaning where sometimes there is none, and face the things we all have to one day.

I can’t say I have found peace, but I can say I believe in it. I offer you River, with love.

Phoebe Man

Phoebe Man

River was developed with the assistance of the OAC’s word of Mouth grant and was presented at the Toronto Festival of Storytelling in 2009 and the Carol Shields Symposium in Winnipeg last year.

You can catch River at FemFest on September 16th at 7 PM, September 18th at 2:30 PM and September 20th at 3 PM. Book your tickets now: www.femfest.ca