Black Lives Matter: Official Statement

Over the last week, we’ve been reflecting on how best to use our platform as a way to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Of course, one statement on social media is not enough, there also needs to be action taken to ensure that we continue to centre BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) artists and their stories. While we show our solidarity through partnering with community groups and hiring artists of colour, we know we have to do better and work harder to dismantle systemic racism within our organization and our industry. More on this to come.

Below is the official statement we posted on June 2, 2020. 

As a theatre company with a mandate to produce theatre for social change, we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The horrific events of the past week have been a stark reminder about how police violence disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous and people of colour in Canada and the United States.

We want to actively challenge the far-too white, able-bodied, cisgender, heteronormative theatre we see. We acknowledge our role in dismantling these structures that perpetuate racism by centring Black artists and their stories, recognizing our privilege, and choosing allyship over silence.

We also acknowledge the historic and continuing racism directed at Indigenous people which is taking place on stolen Indigenous land.

We support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) performers, writers, and artists. We support these members of our local theatre community and theatre communities everywhere.

We know words aren’t enough. But now isn’t the time for us to talk, but rather, to listen.

Here is a link to anti-racism resources…/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-V…/mobilebasic

And here is a link to a list of 10 historic Black theatre companies we encourage you to donate to (if you are able) in this time:…/10-black-theater-companies-d…

And finally, we wanted to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter march that is taking place in Winnipeg, in front of the Legislative building, at 6 PM on Friday, June 5. There’s critical information in the event description here:

After posting on our Facebook Page, it was pointed out that many of the shared resources were from the States and we were encouraged to include Black theatre companies in Canada, which you can find below:

Black Theatre Workshop

b current

Obsidian Theatre Company

Little Black Afro Theatre Company

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Virtual One Night Stand

On Thursday, June 11th at 7pm our first virtual edition of our One Night Stand will take place. This series of readings focused on the development of new works has been offered in many iterations over the last eighteen years, but never before on-line. It is a great way to get a sneak peek of what is up-and-coming in Winnipeg’s theatre scene!

We are excited to welcome Launchpad alumni Jonathan Mourant as coordinator for the launching of the virtual One Night Stand Series. An amazing array of script excerpts were submitted by local playwrights and although five have been selected for June, more sessions are possible down the road. Each edition will offer excerpts of new works in early stages of development, read by an ensemble of actors, and tested before an audience. The goal is to focus on the playwright and what would help them get to the next stage with the script they are working on. To that end we’ll be seeking as much feedback as possible from all who tune in. You can  join in to provide feedback on Zoom or simply tune in to listen to the livestream on our Facebook Page.

The selections are:

Love Letters for Juliet
by Makrenna Sterdan
conceived by Makrenna Sterdan and Joanne Roberts

The Bridge
by Veralyn Warkentin

Seekers of Atlantis
by Kevan Bowkett

Strawberries & Cream
by alison mcLean

The Planet
by Ty Ballingall

Check out our blog for full bios on the playwrights. 

Keep up to date through our Facebook event as we finalize the ensemble cast and other details. 

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FemFest 2020 – Save the Dates!

We are moving ahead with planning for September 19 to 26! This will mark our 18th annual FemFest and this year’s theme is Engaging Community

What the festival will look like is still a work in progress. Our amazing team is developing multiple contingencies depending on the reality that we may be in come September. We are optimistic that there still may be live events. Perhaps smaller audiences nicely spread out. Maybe it will be a hybrid year with some live and some virtual offerings. Like many other festivals and performing arts organizations we are exploring, experimenting and ready to offer the best programming we can.

Before the world paused we had lined up three amazing touring shows and a stellar guest artist. We’ll be announcing these acts with our brochure later this month as our ideal for September. It is a mix of work that tackles identity in terms of the struggle to fit in to a community; work that continues to allow us to pursue our commitment to reconciliation; and even some sketch comedy to lighten the mood.

Most exciting is working with guest artist Chantal Bilodeau. She is truly living through the crisis, as a former Canadian now in New York. Whether live in Winnipeg or virtually, we have an array of activities planned with her facilitating on the theme of climate change and the arts.

Chantal Bilodeau photo

FemFest 2020 Guest Artist – Chantal Bilodeau

Chantal Bilodeau is a Montreal-born, New York-based playwright and translator, whose work focuses on the intersection of science, policy, art, and climate change. Her plays and translations have been presented in a dozen countries around the world, and she is a recipient of the Woodward International Playwriting Prize as well as the First Prize in the Earth Matters on Stage Ecodrama Festival and the Uprising National Playwriting Competition. She serves as the Artistic Director of The Arctic Cycle and is currently at work on a series of eight plays that look at the social and environmental changes taking place in the eight Arctic states.

“I really look forward to FemFest! I’m excited to connect with people in Winnipeg and start to imagine together the just and sustainable future we want to create.” – Chantal Bilodeau

Stay tuned for more announcements and the full festival details!

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Producing 101 Virtual Workshop

We’re excited to announce our next on-line workshop scheduled for Saturday, May 30 at 1pm: Producing 101 – Virtual Edition.

Coming up with a script or show idea is half the work, but once you have that, what then? If you’re thinking of self-producing this workshop is for you! It will provide a helpful breakdown of the fundamentals required to take your vision to the stage. Through this virtual training experience industry professionals will provide participants with an overview of producing their own theatrical performance from A-Z. Topics for discussion include budgeting, scheduling, production tech planning, plus marketing and communications. Our goal is to equip artists with helpful knowledge in preparation for future self-producing, as well as creating an opportunity for discussion between artists in our local community.

Cost: You decide!
Artists can choose their registration fee – $20, $15, $10, $5 or free depending on what you can afford. We believe in paying artists, so monies earned from registration will be used to pay facilitators and to continue similar programming. 

Unlike a panel, this will be a skill-development session and as a result will only be open to a limited number of participants.

Tori Popp
Festival Manager, Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival
Tori is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg with a BA Honours in Theatre Production & Stage Management. Currently, most of her time is spent with the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival as Festival Manager, though she enjoys taking on other projects to continue her passionate support of the fantastic local theatre companies in Winnipeg including her role as Production Coordinator with Sarasvàti’s FemFest. As the FurMom of two rambunctious, nearly 1 year old kittens, when she’s not working, the rest of her days are filled with snuggles, kibble, and nursing foot pain from stepping on cat toys.

Charlene Van Buekenhout
Artistic Producer, Echo Theatre
Charlene is a Metis / Belgian / Canadian theatre artist residing in Winnipeg. She is an actor, the creative programmer at Dalnavert Museum and the Artistic Producer of Echo Theatre. She has been self-producing independent theatre in Winnipeg for over 15 years. New projects include a pandemic postponed Kids Fringe show called Imagination Invasion, and her daughter Phoebe who is turning 1. Solo work includes ghost story telling using Crankies (look it up!), shadow puppets and the dark. Past Echo Theatre productions include: HAMLET (the rest is silence), Hedda Gabler, Blithe Spirit, A Strange Pair, JONNO. Theatre experiments and workshops include: Dr. Kellogg’s System, and The Smell of Dead Mums.

Hazel Venzon
Hazel is a theatre artist: an actress, social-performance artist, writer, director and producer. Her artistic background is rooted in sculpture and performance art (University of Manitoba’s School of Fine Art) and formal acting training (Studio 58). Hazel has been a national theatre artist for over 20 years. Her work as an actress and social-performance artist has been presented in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Victoria, Whitehorse and Winnipeg. She has produced for festivals such as PuSh, Luminato and Magnetic North Theatre Festival. She is currently, the Artistic Associate at Prairie Theatre Exchange, Central Operative for Mammalian Diving Reflex and the Co-Artistic Director for UNIT Productions. She continues to explore the definition of theatre and performance through social engagement, crossing through multiple disciplines; focused on the investigation of Canadian identity.

We are so grateful to be able to bring art and knowledge to the arts community during these difficult times.  

You can pay/register here. Please feel free to email with any questions! Deadline for registration is May 15th, 2020 or once spaces are full.

If you are an artist looking for other opportunities, don’t forget that for female and non-binary emerging artists, our Launchpad Project is still accepting applications until May 1st. For both emerging and established playwrights, our One Night Stand workshop reading series is also taking submissions until May 8!

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Call for One Night Stand

We are now accepting submissions for our One Night Stand reading series, which will take place in June! Deadline is May 8, 2020. A great opportunity for all playwrights looking for a way to keep developing their work.

After several years of programming this unique event, we are excited to try some new approaches. One of which is moving it to a virtual platform so it can be held while we continue to practice social isolation.

We are currently seeking submissions of 10-minute scenes from emerging and established Manitoban writers of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. In order to provide the most applicable and helpful feedback to the participants, we recommend that submissions be in an early stage of development, preferably having received little to no professional dramaturgy. 

Check out the call for submissions for full details: One Night Stand Call for Submission 2020

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Reconciliation Through Theatre Video

Although the culmination of our reconciliation through theatre project had to be postponed, we are excited to share this video looking back at the amazing work with youth. A huge thank you to Hue for compiling it and to all our wonderful partner organizations for their ongoing support. From June to November 2019, we were honoured to hear the perspectives of over 70 youth and have them share their artwork with us. We can’t wait until the time is right to gather and share with a wider audience. It will truly be a celebration as we come together again as a community. 


Stay tuned for new dates for the full performance  of Songide’ewin!

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Accessibility On Stage and Off

We were so grateful to partner with Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba (AANM) and Sick + Twisted Theatre to host “Accessibility On Stage and Off” on Saturday, April 4th. This on-line roundtable discussion featured Debbie Patterson as moderator and panelists Diane Driedger, Ph.D., Hannah Foulger, Joanna K. Hawkins, Hailley Rhoda, and AANM Executive Director Jenel Shaw.

Participants highlighted the fact that it is all about connections and communication – a particularly poignant notion at this time. There is a difference between knowing you are allowed in a space versus being welcome in the space! There is also the need for persistency to build relationships. It is time for us all to walk the walk and not just talk.

A few key take-aways:
– Many people with disabilities require specific seating in a theatre, whether that’s for mobility access, low vision, or proximity to ASL interpreters. Often this means a lack of options in terms of price points, forcing people with disabilities to pay top dollar for their tickets. Similarly, people with disabilities are frequently underemployed or on assistance. Creating accessible seating isn’t just about addressing physical barriers; it’s often about addressing financial barriers.
– Can we create a protocol that protects the rights of the artist with disabilities but also allows for clear communication of an artist’s access needs and what constitutes a barrier to an artist’s participation?
– Companies and employers need to know how to ask questions. They should ask about barriers not symptoms. What in the environment prevents participation?
– Access information needs to be clearly available on an organization’s website.

There were also great resources shared:
– There is a ramp that is free to borrow and can make spaces accessible. To borrow e-mail Eusebio at Video Pool:
AANM has an ASL fund.
Sick + Twisted can provide partial subsidies for audio description.
– For the dance perspective check out

Moving forward AANM is going to take on creating a centralized calendar of accessible performances. They will also take the lead in creating a committee to build a best practices document.

Trying to be universally accessible is overwhelming; the sense that you must do more and get it right is ableist. Everyone should do their best and accept it will take time!

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Launchpad Applications

We are excited to look forward to the fall and our second Launchpad initiative at FemFest! After a successful pilot last year, we’ve refined this emerging artist unit. It is open to women and non-binary emerging artists. It includes an intensive training experience and opportunity to perform at FemFest 2020. Participants are paid an honorarium and travel subsidy. Deadline to apply is May 1st. 

Full application details are available here – Launchpad 2020 Call for Submissions

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Songide’ewin Announcement

It will come as no surprise that our May 21-24 production Songide’ewin, the culmination of our Reconciliation Through Theatre Project at the Forks, will have to be postponed. We have been holding on with great hope and optimism. We have amazing stories compiled from over 70 Indigenous youth. We have an incredible artistic team and community partners all lined up. We must listen to the universe though and accept the timing was just not right.

I would like to say we are making this choice, however it ultimately was out of our hands as permits and regulations were no longer allowing gatherings in to May and June. We do believe it is the safest decision and what is best for all involved.

On April 1st we had a wonderful reading of the draft script under the guidance of our director Tracey Nepinak and with actors Sara Demers, Katie German, Braiden Houle, Jessica McGlynn, Akalu Meekis and Josh Ranville. Incredible designs are underway thanks to Production Designer Louis Ogemah and we have such beautiful art ready to share from so many talented youth.

We are 100% committed to seeing the show through, but at this time cannot provide new dates as we are working with our venue to sort out what is realistic and feasible. We will continue to share all the inspiring work happening in the interim and cannot wait to celebrate when the time is ready!

Our team is available remotely so feel free to contact us with any questions, thoughts, or just to share how you are doing.

We are grateful for how the community is rallying at this time, thankful for all those working so hard to provide essential services, and for all our supporters, funders, partners for their belief in our work.

Hope McIntyre
Artistic Director

Read more about our Reconciliation through Theatre Project.  

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Virtual Accessbility Roundtable Invite

Accessibility On Stage and Off will be happening on April 4th at 12pm on-line and we’d love for you to join in on the discussion. Social distancing may be in place but we can still have this important dialogue! 

We hope all is well and that you’re settled into this new temporary normal. While our team is staying busy working remotely we are excited to carry on with our planned roundtable on the topic of accessibility both on stages and off stage. We are grateful to be working in partnership with Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba and Sick + Twisted Theatre to adapt to a creative virtual delivery method. Through the online program Zoom, we will host this discussion and bring together a group of panelists to share their experiences. This wonderful group of people consists of industry experts, performers and a PhD Professor from the University of Manitoba. Sick + Twisted Artistic Director Debbie Patterson will be our fabulous moderator! 

Here are the details:

Accessibility: On Stage and Off

April 4th, 2020 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Roundtable Discussion on Zoom

Cost: FREE

Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba, Sarasvàti Productions and Sick + Twisted Theatre present a discussion on accessibility from the comfort of your own home!

More is being done to address accessibility in theatre and the arts in Winnipeg, but is it enough? How accessible are performances for audiences? How exclusionary are the spaces and processes we use in making theatre? Why is the inclusion of artists with disabilities essential to the continued development of the art form? Join us for a frank discussion with guest artists and Disability advocates. Join the live discussion on Zoom, or watch/listen via Facebook livestream. ASL interpretation will be occurring live.

Email to register for the workshop and for full details or tune in to our Facebook page April 4th at noon for the livestream.

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