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.

Shame, Blame and What Almost Became a Def Leppard Play

14231787_10209977296810336_1027723112982667808_oGuest Post by The Seduction Theory playwright Sherry MacDonald

Hysteria. Red line. Yellow submarine. For last year’s FemFest Bake-Off competition my fellow playwrights and I were given eight hours to incorporate these three ingredients into a scene. Upon hearing the word ‘hysteria’ I became very excited (no pun intended) and quickly delved into online research fueled by the prospect of writing a scene set in Freud’s time about his theories for treating the ‘disease’ then known as hysteria. Great!

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Vancouver playwright, Sherry MacDonald

The problem that immediately became apparent to me was this: While there were all kinds of possibilities for folding ‘red line’ into the mix, what was I going to do with ‘yellow submarine’?

Yes, there were submarines during Freud’s time, but ‘yellow submarine’ is an unavoidably iconic term that would necessarily place the scene in an era post Beatlemania. I briefly toyed with riffing on the term, abandoning Freud, along with John, Paul et al, to set the scene in a place called The Yellow Submarine Sandwich Shop whereby a couple of rock star wannabes rehearse a karaoke version of Def Leppard’s Hysteria. Funny? Maybe. It could be fun . . .

But what if I won? I’d have to spend a year writing a play that revolves around a 1980s ‘hair band’ karaoke contest. No, back to Freud and his theories.

Fortunately for me, I went with my original gut feeling. The writing of the one act play The Seduction Theory which is being produced by Sarasvàti  at this year’s FemFest, has been a rewarding and challenging ride for me as a playwright. The necessity of having to deal with ‘yellow submarine’ actually turned out to be a blessing. Through my original ‘Wiki-mania’ research for the Bake-Off, madly keying in terms like ‘Freud’, ‘hysteria’ and eventually ‘seduction theory’, I came across an entry having to do with girls’ training schools —a then term for reformatories—in Canada and the U.S. during the middle part of the last century. Bingo! Or should I say, Ringo!

Setting the Bake-Off scene in the 60s allowed for that all important third ingredient. And because I now was setting the play in a girls’ reformatory school, I had my first two characters, Cass and Rebecca, girls whom in the process of writing their story I have come to love.

Expanding the Bake-Off scene to a one-act, I set the play back ten years to the mid-50s, a time before social movements began to take hold in North America, an era that saw the beginning of the consumer society, a ripe breeding ground for Freud’s theories to thrive. It was a time not too distant from our own, but distant enough to help frame atrocities committed at the fictional Westview Training School, as a product of ‘the times’.

Unfortunately, this restriction of time and place, ultimately is faulty. For while some of what Cass and Rebecca endure at Westview would not take place today (at least not in North America), the central theme of The Seduction Theory, subverting the female voice through victim blaming, is very much alive and well in 2016. One only has to glance at the latest headlines for verification. The play then is an examination of the current state of affairs for women and girls.

I recently received, courtesy of Theatre BC, a public reading of the script in its present form, which sparked a heated debate. “Would a learned man such as Dr. Branford, ‘the baddie’ in the play, really say the things he does?” “How much has changed since then?” “Has anything changed?” Witnessing firsthand the passion audience members displayed during this exchange, told me I just might be on to something.

Writing a play that explores topical issues that have the potential for impassioned discourse is extremely satisfying to me. And it’s all thanks to the Sarasvàti Bake-Off initiative. I may have been right in choosing Freud over Def Leppard after all. Then again, emotional debate over hair extensions and spandex pants could also be interesting.

 

Catch the world premiere of The Seduction Theory 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.

Trauma and Transformation – Meet the Cast of The Seduction Theory

What happens to a teen girl when she starts to mature and attracts the attention of men? She’s blamed for her attractiveness, labeled an attention-seeking problem-child and is sent away to be “fixed.” This societal routine is put centre-stage in FemFest 2016’s world premiere of The Seduction Theory.

Written by Vancouver playwright Sherry MacDonald and set in the 1950s, the play brings to life a cast of characters who all believe they are doing what is right. We follow 15-year-old Cass as she transforms from naiveté to a loss of innocence. She is guided on this path by jaded-beyond-her-years Rebecca. Marg runs the home for at risk girls, trying to be a replacement mother but unable to protect them from the likes of Dr. Branford.

Meet the actors that will bring this eye-opening story to life. With FemFest 2016’s theme of Transformation, we asked about their growing careers and their personal transformations over the years.

Hailley Rhoda Headshot.jpgHailley Rhoda As Cass. Rhoda has already been in a handful of productions throughout Winnipeg including our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues and Ripple Effect School Tour. With eclectic tastes, her time travelling choices would be to go to either 500BC to observe Spartan society or 1953 to watch the birth of the Stratford Festival.  Her biggest change is her growing dependence on coffee: “I drink far more coffee and have glasses. Mainly it’s the steady increase in caffeine that’s noticeable.”

hannah.pngHannah Wigglesworth – As Rebecca. Wigglesworth is a self-proclaimed animal lover, food enthusiast and a musical theatre nerd. She is currently working on her Bachelor of Music – Classical Voice at the University of Manitoba. Her biggest personal change:  “I have become much more confident and focused. I’ve always known what I wanted to do but now I am focused on working hard and making it happen. I’ve also become much more independent and sure of myself.”

merri-louMerri-Lou Paterson – As Marg.  Paterson has loved and been involved in the theatre since forever. Not just an actor, she indulges in art, photography and travel. If she wasn’t doing theatre she would be traveling as a food writer. Her biggest personal change: “I’ve always been very conscious the role of fear has played in my life and have worked very hard at feeling it but not allowing it to make the final decisions.  I would say that, being the age I am, I have learned a few more ways to put fear in its place and not in the driver’s seat.  This has allowed me to enjoy a multitude of new experiences personally and professionally.”

GRANT BURR - HEADSHOTGrant Burr – As Dr. Branford.  Burr is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg honours acting program and a FemFest alumni having past roles in The Naked Woman and Flood Control and FemFest 2015’s Bake-Off.  How Burr has changed from the person he was 5 years ago:The older I get the more I find that it is important to focus and fight for the things that are really important in your life. You never know when you won’t be able to enjoy those things you love anymore, so enjoy them while they last. In other words, put me on that stage!”

Catch these talented actors in The Seduction Theory at FemFest 2016: Transformation. The show runs from September 17 – 24, 2016 at the Asper Centre for Theatre & Film (University of Winnipeg). Visit femfest.ca for tickets and show times.

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