9 Day Countdown to FemFest 2014

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!


FemFest 2014 Call For Submissions

It is once again time to submit work for FemFest. We welcome work from Canadian female playwrights, so please spread the word.

FEMFEST 2014: She’s Got the Power
Winnipeg’s 12th Annual Festival of Plays by Women for Everyone

 Sarasvàti Productions is accepting submission for its 12th annual FemFest, which will take place in September 2014. We are currently seeking submissions of finished scripts and proposals of work in progress for us to produce at the festival as well as works that touring companies would like to present at the festival. Subject matter is wide open but our focus this year is work that falls under the theme of power. All scripts must be written by a Canadian female playwright and have a running time of no more than one hour. We are also interested in short ten-minute plays. Technical and set requirements must be minimal due to the festival setting. A reading committee will assess submissions for their individual quality and in order to program a balanced festival. Touring shows will receive a performance fee, selected playwrights that we produce ourselves will be paid royalties and works in development will be offered a dramaturg.

Please include:

1. A cover letter

-with full contact information (mailing address, phone # and e-mail)

-expressing why you feel your project should be a part of FemFest 2013

-detailing any production history

2. A 100 word synopsis of the play.

3. A 100 word bio of the playwright or main artist.

4. One copy of the script formatted according to acceptable Canadian play script format or, in the case of a work in progress, a detailed script proposal.

In addition, we are seeking short performances for our Cabaret evenings. The Cabarets are interdisciplinary so we welcome submissions by musical groups, comedy troupes, dancers, visual artists, film-makers and multi-media work. The main creative force must be female. Groups or individuals interested in the Cabarets can simply forward information on the work they would like presented as well as a bio.

All submissions must be received in the office by October 31, 2013.  Submissions should be mailed to:

FemFest 2014
Sarasvàti Productions
242 Cathedral   Avenue
Winnipeg, MB
R2W 0X3

E-mail submissions will not be accepted. For more information please contact us at (204) 586-2236 or info@sarasvati.ca. To view details on past FemFests check out our website www.femfest.ca.

Please note that the ability to proceed with the festival is dependent on funding.

FemFest Bake-Off!

Have you heard about the Bake-Off yet! it’s one of our favourite new components of FemFest. Last year we challenged five playwrights to write a one-act in two weeks with five supplied ingredients. This year, we changed it up to eight hours to write a ten-minute piece with three ingredients. After a call for submissions and lots of interest, the playwrights competing in the second annual Bake-Off were selected! On August 31st they were given the ingredients of a zombie, a dill pickle and maniacal laughter. Check out what they whip up with the resulting staged readings on Monday, September 15th at 7pm. The audience will vote for a winning piece to receive a slot in FemFest 2014.

Here’s the scoop on the playwrights:

Megan Andres
Megan Andres is a graduate of the U of M Theatre Program. Select credits include: As Director: Antipode, Departures and Arrivals (BHTC), Lawrence and Holloman (PTE-Apprentice Director). As Actor: The Darling Family, Catching Shadows (Broken Still Productions), Doubt; A Parable, The Fighting Days (Tara Players).

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson’s writing credits include the award-winning series Tipi Tales, the television special Rising Star, the drama H&G, and several plays. Rebecca is also an actor, director, and producer. Acting credits include her award-winning role in the film that launched The Murdoch Mysteries, the film We Were Children, and the film American Girl: Saige Paints the Sky.

Daina Leitold
Daina is an actor, director, mime and drama educator. Playwriting is her most recent theatrical endeavour. As an actor she has appeared on the stages of Sarasvàti, RMTC, SJT, SIR and Theatre Calgary. She has also performed in many productions for film and television.

Sally Stubbs
Sally, an award-winning Vancouver playwright and educator, also directs, dramaturges, and performs. She has been playwright-in-residence at the Firehall Arts Centre, Touchstone Theatre, the Playwrights Theatre Centre Colony, Nightwood Theatre’s Groundswell Festival, and the University of Lethbridge. Sally’s scripts have been described as fierce, bold, surprising, audaciously theatrical, and darkly humorous. They include: Centurions; Kid Gloves; Herr Beckman’s People; Wreckage; Spinning You Home; and She’ll to the Wars.

Priscilla Yakielashek
Priscilla is a Manitoban playwright, actor, producer and director. She received her BA Honours at the University of Winnipeg. In October 2012, she graduated from the University of Alberta with an MFA in Theatre Practice, specializing in Playwriting. Select plays include: Life Without Secrets; Felix and Max; The House Left Standing; Organ; and German Silver. She is a recipient of several scholarships and bursaries—a testament to her talent.

Last year, Jessy Ardern participated in the first Bake-Off as an emerging playwright and had the audience in stitches with her script. This year, her play Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests will received its world premiere at FemFest and is sure to be a crowd favourite! Jessy is also part of the ‘Group of Seven’ an initiative by a consortium of Winnipeg theatres highlighting seven local female playwrights being produced in Winnipeg’s upcoming season. What an amazing year to have so many local works, let alone work by women! Stay tuned for more information and works by Ginny Collins, Trish Cooper, Carolyn Gray, Cairn Moore, Debbie Patterson and Alix Sobler.

Jessy Ardern
Jessy Ardern

Now, for extra insight is a Bake-off photo journal by participating playwright Megan Andres!


1st Entry: FemFest Bake Off Day!!! SO excited. Thought I’d use some photos to guide you through my day.

2nd Entry
2nd Entry

This is me before going to the meeting to get the ingredients for the FemFest Bake-off Playwriting Challenge. I have a tendency to compulsively check if things work pre important things. But as you can see my computer is working and is waiting impatiently for me to get back and start writing.

3rd Entry
3rd Entry

This is me at the meeting. See how outwardly calm I look…

4th Entry
4th Entry

This is in fact the outer representation of how I internally felt the moment they introduced the ingredients (zombies, dill pickles & maniacal laughter)

5th Entry
5th Entry

This is at 11:37 am. 1 hour and thirty seven minutes into the competition with nada…However I have found some very interesting facts about pickles, about zombies….and about maniacal laughing via google. None of which really seemed to trigger any inspiration.

6th Entry
6th Entry

This is my face at 12:14pm. Heart pounding. What to do…what to do…Then I went to go buy some pickles…

7th Entry
7th Entry

These are some gooood pickles. While eating pickles I just starting writing anything and everything I could think of. I think I have about 12 half pages of starter scenes…then I just picked the one I felt like finishing.

8th Entry
8th Entry

5:23 pm. Just finished the scene. Phew… Now just last minute editing and to think of a title. Deadline 6pm. (Note…I hit send on the email at exactly 5:54pm). I feel like cheering.

9th Entry
9th Entry

While I may have felt like cheering…this is actually what I did.

10th and Final Entry
10th and Final Entry

Until I finally dragged myself up and finished my day with a well deserved beverage. Now I just have to wait until September 16 to see my scene and the other lovely playwrights work. I am SO excited. Not only to see the actors perform my scene and hear the audience reaction but to see what the other playwrights cooked up!!!

Thanks for sharing, Megan! We can’t wait to see what you and the other playwrights have baked for us!

More FemFest Artist Features!

With FemFest rehearsals in full swing, we wanted to introduce you to more of the talent you’ll be seeing on stage in just a few short weeks. Here are more interesting answers to our artist questionnaire! Feel free to also check out our first artist introductions from July 18th.

Grant BurrGrant Burr is an honours acting graduate of the University of Winnipeg theatre program. He is delighted to make his first appearance at FemFest in Flood Control. Most recently Burr appeared in Thom Pain (based on nothing) at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

What is your favourite play? That’s hard…I’ve always loved The Importance of Being Earnest.

What is your favourite word? “Chookas”. My favorite word from the world of Australian theatre.

If you had one wish, what would it be? For you to enjoy the show!Fun Fact: Grant and his wife moved to China for a year and lived in Australia with their two boys while his wife was on a teaching exchange.

Colin Connor
Colin Connor is a young performer who has worked with Sarasvàti before and will be appearing in the hilarious Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests at FemFest. Colin recently gave a gut-busting performance in The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine at this year’s Edmonton Fringe Festival, also in last year’s Winnipeg Fringe.

What is your favourite play? The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine, The Pitchfork Disney, Grim and Fisher

What is your favourite word? Splendid or Rhubarb

If you had one wish, what would it be? To spend the rest of my days in Cagliari (Italy)

Fun Fact: Colin collects bowties and tiki mugs

Shanley Scarsbrook JardineShanley Scarsbrook Jardine is a wife, mother, performer and artist with many talents. Shanley is excited to highlight the similarities and differences between two mothers of different socioeconomic backgrounds in here performance in The Exchange at FemFest.

What is your favorite play: Too many to choose from!

What is your favourite word? Yes!

If you had one wish, what would it be? That my children grow up to be happy, strong, capable individuals.

Fun Fact: Shanley loves to garden.

Renée VandaleRenée Vandale is a well renowned professional dancer and choreographer in Winnipeg. Renée will be captivating FemFest audiences when she dances as one of the acts for the closing cabaret.

What is your main occupation?  I work full time as an Optician, semi full as a Dance Artist, and casually as a Makeup Artist. I’m kind of multitasked kind of lady.

What do you want audiences to take away after viewing your work?  I want the audience to walk away with a mindful of satisfaction, good memories, and a desire for more.

What area of Winnipeg are you from? I’m mostly from St.Vital, but will be moving into Osborne Village next week. (Hopefully!)

Elena Anciro
Elena Anciro is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Department of Theatre and Film. Now a Sarasvàti veteran, her credits include: A Kick in the Head (Director, FemFest 2006), Generation Nexxt (FemFest 2010), Empty (FemFest 2012) and the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues (2011 – 2013). This year you can catch her in Flood Control!

What is your favourite play? That’s a really tough question, but I can say that the first play I read that really affected me emotionally was Oedipus Rex.

What is your main occupation? Curriculum Developer at Career Trek, Inc.

If you had one wish, what would it be? For continued good health!

Pomme at FemFest!

One of the great things we love about producing FemFest is the opportunity to bring in amazing women artists from all over the country. We rarely get to see diverse work by women in Winnipeg. For FemFest 2013, we are really excited to include pomme is french for apple in the FemFest line-up. Created and performed by liza paul and bahia watson, it was a critic’s pick, patron pick and best of fringe at the Toronto Fringe Festival. pomme is french for apple is a vaudevillian and distinctly west indian exploration of the absurdity of women’s lives in settings diverse as the islands, downtown toronto, southeast london, and the too-tight crotch of the pants. What more could you ask for? Plus presenting the show means a chance for artist bahia watson to return to Winnipeg!

bahia watson

bahia watson

“i left winnipeg a few years ago to escape the winter and to chase my dreams. working primarily in the toronto theatre scene means that most of the people who grew up with me and raised me haven’t been able to see what it is that i do. it thrills me to be able to return to my beloved hometown to share pomme is french for apple with everyone who knew me first. as a dancer, the caribbean communities of winnipeg were my first audiences. they supported, encouraged and inspired me deeply. we are grateful to femfest for inviting us and allowing us to add a likkle something to di pot.

ya ready, pegcity? let’s get into it. xo”

– bahia watson, co-creator of pomme is french for apple

Check out the pomme website for more videos and pomme news. There are just three performances of the show at FemFest so get your tickets early!

FemFest Cabarets Announced!

It has become a tradition that each year FemFest will open and close with a cabaret celebrating female artists from multiple disciplines. These are amazing evenings featuring performers, dancers, visual artists, comedians and film-makers. FemFest 2013 will not disappoint. We have put together a unique line-up of artists to showcase to launch the festival on September 14th and to ceremoniously end the festival on September 21st.

Here is the exciting line-up for both but stay tuned for more details and news!

Opening Cabaret and Reception – Saturday, September 14, 7 p.m.

Host: Susan Tymofichuk (CTV)

  • visual art by MAWA artists
  • The Exchange a short play by Katherine Koller
  • Accalia Robertson – tribal dance
  • Samantha Halas – contortionist
  • Melanie Dahling – comedian
  • Acquetore: Swan Doll – devised theatre by Devan Gingrich, Megan Sekiya and Brittany Thiessen
  • Van Kunder – music
  • The Craftastics: Agents for Social Change by Jennie O and Valley Gardens Middle School Grrlz Club – Art Installation in lobby and Trading Card Deck – Developed through the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Community WITH ART Program
  • Plus teasers from other FemFest shows


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Closing Cabaret and Reception – Saturday, September 21, 9 p.m.

Host: Kerri Salki (Clear FM)

  • visual art by MAWA artists
  • Adi Sara Kreindler – music
  • Heather Witherden – comedian
  • Renée Vandale – dance
  • Teresa-Lee Cooke – prose writing
  • Danishka Esterhazy – short film “Fallen”


FemFest Features Christine Rodriguez

Christine Rodriguez

Christine Rodriguez

In the weeks leading up to FemFest 2013, we asked some of the performers to write about what participating in FemFest means to them. We start this series off with Christine Rodriguez, writer and performer whose play Dreaming in Autism has placed her on the proverbial map.  The play was awarded third prize at Ottawa Little Theatre’s 72nd National One-Act Playwriting Competition. Adjudicator Garry Davey says the play is a “strongly imagined piece with a distinctive style” and that it is “both funny and heart-breaking at times.” Dreaming in Autism was also nominated for Chapters Best English Script and won the Théâtre Denise-Pelletier Fred-Barry Award for Best Production Design at the 2012 Montreal Fringe Festival. Christine’s work is largely informed by her mixed-race heritage and her multicultural environment.

Here’s what Christine had to say about being part of FemFest 2013:

“I’m very excited about bringing Dreaming in Autism to FemFest 2013.  It’s an opportunity to perform and to share my story with an entirely new audience.  I’m looking forward to exchanging thoughts and ideas with the Winnipeg theatre community, to share with fellow Canadians.  I hope that the play continues to create awareness about autism issues and reach out to people dealing with autism.  I’m interested in hearing about people’s experience with autism in Manitoba.  How different are things there compared to Québec?

Beyond the issue of autism, I think that Winnipegers will enjoy the show not only for the drama or the story about a mother dealing with a mildly autistic child, but also for the theatre, the conception, the unique and daring way Liz (director), Jody (technical director) and Logan (set designer) chose to interpret the play.  We’re very proud of our work, humbled by the opportunity to show our work at FemFest alongside other great artists and thrilled to be taking our creation beyond Montreal’s English theatre community.

Art knows no boundaries.

See you all soon!”

For more information on Christine and her play, Dreaming in Autism, please visit http://sarasvati.ca/fem-fest-showsdreaminginautism/

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