FemFest is a national festival celebrating women theatre artists. We envision a future for Canadian theatre where plays by women comprise an equal number of productions in main stage regional theatres; where women directors, designers and performers are given equal opportunities; where the voices of women and the issues important to them are brought to life in theatres across the country. In order to achieve this goal, FemFest provides a supportive environment where performances by women can be showcased, promoted and developed. Our vision includes a desire to increase the relevancy of theatre to a broader representation of our communities. This also allows for the inclusion of work from diverse cultural backgrounds, artistic traditions and disciplines.
Sarasvàti Productions and FemFest have at their core ‘transformative theatre’ and are often viewed by the community as socially conscious theatre. We use theatre as a medium to initiate discourse on issues of relevance to the community, in particular disenfranchised sectors of the community.
FemFest has three major goals: to provide showcasing opportunities for a broad range of women theatre artists, women playwrights in particular, in order to address the disparity of women theatre artists in Canada; to provide opportunities to emerging artists; and to provide a forum for the exploration of issues of importance to women. FemFest attempts to act as a launching pad for theatre artists, as well as an opportunity to work with community groups to address female-centred societal issues. In order to achieve these goals FemFest produces the work of local artists, providing them with an opportunity to develop their work, and providing mentorship and training opportunities for actors, designers, directors and production staff. In addition, the festival presents touring work from across Canada. This provides a showcase opportunity for Canadian women theatre artists and independent companies doing work by women, but also enables FemFest to host professional artists in Winnipeg for the benefit of local artists and patrons. These visiting artists also do outreach work with the community and skill-development workshops for emerging artists.
Background and History
FemFest has been up and kicking since 2003. What started as a small, grassroots festival to showcase women playwrights quickly grew into a 10-day festival featuring female theatre artists from Winnipeg, Canada and the world. Over the years we have developed countless new plays, brought dozens of artists to Winnipeg to share their work and provided skill development to actors, directors, designer and technicians in Winnipeg. FemFest has also expanded to include performance art, installations, dance, video and music.
Community outreach has also increased over the years with shows being performed in schools, FemFest artists teaching workshops at universities and for community groups, as well as speaking engagements across Winnipeg.
The Seduction Theory by Sherry MacDonald
15-year-old Cassandra is deemed too unruly to live at home and is sent to reform school. This powerful drama delves into society’s criminalization and sexual exploitation of young underprivileged girls. The Seduction Theory brings to light society’s underlining desire to control female sexuality and begs the question, who will speak up for these forgotten girls?
Winner of the FemFest 2015 Bake-Off and the 2016 Special Merit Award from the Theatre BC Playwriting competition.
Coordinated and directed by Cairn Moore
In partnership with the Manitoba Association of Playwrights
Feast your eyes on the annual Bake-Off. We challenge selected playwrights with a list of ingredients and two short weeks to cook up their own fantastic theatrical feasts! The results are an abundance of laughs and entertaining surprises.
Shorts from the Short-List
Throughout the festival, audiences can enjoy excerpts from the FemFest 2016 shortlist. Get a taste of the wonderful work of women playwrights from all over the country.
Dried Flowers by Maryjane Cruise
Nancy by Natalie Labossiére, Carole Freynet-Gagné & Mariette Kirouac The Living Library by Linda McCready
The Roomie by Emily Muller
Vigilantes by Ronit Rubinstein
Our Golden Years by Sally Stubbs
The Funeral Guest by Tyler Joy White Peace We Often Forfeit by Terrie Todd
Featuring an exciting mix of artists from all disciplines! Join us on opening night for an exciting variety show with a unique smorgasbord of entertainment including music, comedy dance, theatre and film.
Stay tuned for details.
Produced by the frank theatre company (Vancouver)
The poems of Antonette Rea
Adapted into a play by Antonette Rea, with James Fagan Tait
Directed by James Fagan Tait
Choreography by Noam Gagnon
Featuring Antonette Rea and Starlise Waschuk
Now in her 60s, Antonette Rea is a star in Vancouver’s spoken word scene, known for her charismatic and riveting delivery. She is also a survivor, having lived through horrific experiences of marginalization and abuse as a transgender person. From suburban real estate agent and married father of two, to drug-addicted sex worker in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Antonette has transcended the unspeakableness of her personal pain to create word-worlds of haunting beauty. Miss Understood is a theatrical poem based on her incredible life story, a piece performed by Antonette herself, with spoken text lifted entirely from Antonette’s poetry.
Produced by the frank theatre company (Vancouver, British Columbia)
the frank envisions a world that is free of intolerance and prejudice, and where sexual and gender diversity is accepted and embraced, everywhere in every society, and by everyone.
the frank‘s mission is to explore what it means to be queer, and the place of queer individuals in society, by creating, developing, producing and presenting theatrical work that places queer issues on a global canvas. These are works wherein issues of queer marginalization intersect with other types of marginalization: i.e. economic, racial, gender, political. We are primarily a text-based theatre that trusts in the ability of the playwright to wrestle with these questions.
We champion open-mindedness, authenticity and engagement. We embrace diversity of all kinds, encourage and nurture queer youth, and strive to build bridges between all socially marginalized groups and between queer and non-queer communities.
Stage Management by Dorothy Jenkins
Set & Lighting Design by Bryan Kenney
Videography by Candelario Andrade
Costume Design by Carmen Alatorre
Sound Design and Composition by Candelario Andrade and Malcolm Noel Dow
Dramaturgy by C. E. Gatchalian
Morro and Jasp do Puberty
Produced by U.N.I.T. Productions (Toronto)
Created and Performed by Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee
Directed by Byron Laviolette
A hilarious look at the best period of your life. Clown sisters Morro and Jasp are at that age where the hormones are always flaring, the telephone keeps ringing, and the punk rock can never be too loud. This smash hit explores the trials and tribulations of growing up.
Produced by Up Your Nose and In Your Toes Productions (Toronto, Ontario)
Up Your Nose and In Your Toes Productions (U.N.I.T) is a non-profit theatre company dedicated to breaking social norms and identifying the flaws that we, as a society, work hard to cover up. Through energetic and unapologetic work mixed with a covert and multi-disciplinary approach, we seek to help people rediscover joy, truth and creativity, not as a passing moment but as an important part of everyday life. We hope to heal the world one smile at a time.
Produced by Quote Unquote Collective (Toronto)
Created and performed by Norah Sadava and Amy Nostbakken
Directed by Amy Nostbakken
A harrowing, humorous, and heart-wrenching journey into the female psyche. In the wake of her mother’s death, Mouthpiece follows one woman, for one day, as she tries to find her voice. Interweaving a cappella harmonies, dissonance, text and physicality, two performers express the inner conflict that exists within a modern woman’s head: the push and the pull, the past and the present, the progress and the regression.
Produced By Quote Unquote Collective (Toronto, ON)
Quote Unquote Collective is a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary performance company that aims to work outside the boundaries of tradition and expectation. Engaging with urgent social and political themes, the company is founded on the firm belief that art and performance are tools to provoke conversation and change. Co-founders Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava, who both have a strong background in physical theatre and music, have joined forces to produce work in a variety of genres and disciplines as a means to make new, experimental, and provocative performance work that ignites conversation within the community and the world at large. Defying conventions of style and form, the collective is built on the idea that individual ideas demand to be expressed through different forms, and should be expressed by whatever means necessary.
Movement direction and dramaturgy by Orian Michaeli
Lighting Design by Andre Du Toit
Sound Design by James Bunton
All music is original composition by Amy Nostbakken