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Reflections on the Bake-Off

I have to say, my time doing this year’s Bake-off last Monday was short yet delightful. I enjoyed every rehearsal, had doubts during my moments wrestling with my characters and stage directions, but overall, I loved participating in the possible launch of a brand new play. With so many that have been done countless times, it’s good to perform a brand new piece of work that could possibly be handed down to many generations of future actors who’ll have to live up to the very first who’ve performed and breathed life into these words.

  • Brigitte DePape, Sara Arenson, Pamela Wolk, Larissa Hikel and Jo Macdonald: I hope y’all have more success with your writings, that you’re truly appreciated for the creative minds you have and thank you for sharing your genius. To think, that your writings could live on far past many lifetimes from now!
  • Ian Bastin, Danielle Savage, Christina Heather, and Joshua Ranville: y’all were a pleasure to work with in the brief time together. I’ve admired all of your work during and even before this production and I feel privileged to have worked with talented people. I love to sit back and observe how creative you all are, what magic you’ve pulled out of your hearts to display before the audience. Someone in the audience might feel inspired because of your performance, in this or past/present shows.
  • Zoe Leclerc-Kennedy, Cairn Moore: thanks for your discipline and your guidance. I’d have been confused and lost without you. Believe it or not, you were a comfort and motivating throughout the production.

I look forward to many more live theatre productions, especially through Sarasvàti Productions and Fem Fest.

BlackspaceWpg & ShanleyFest

On Saturday, September 30, 2017 in partnership with Aceartinc, Culture Days Manitoba and Nuit Blanche Winnipeg, we are hosting our second instillment of our Afrocentric artist Showcase Nuit Noire. This year, Nuit Noire: Illuminate Our Voices will highlight performance and visual art. Click for program.

Share the event via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @blackspacewpg #NuitNoire2017

STOREFRONT CHURCH: The Tara Players have performance approval for 10 shows, starting 30th January, the same date as ShanleyFest 2018 begins. The play splits into nice segments, an interesting division of characters that should make this comic-drama an audience pleaser. Trust Shanley to mix things up.

Concluding the “Church and State” trilogy of plays that began with Doubt and Defiance, Storefront Church tells the story of a Bronx Borough President who is forced by the mortgage crisis into a confrontation with a local minister. Blending earthy humor and philosophical reflection, this compassionate morality tale is an exploration of the often thorny relationship between spiritual experience and social action.

Fifteen years supporting women in theatre – Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg Free Press

AUGUST 21, 2017

Fifteen years supporting women in theatre
FemFest opens on Sept. 16
By: Ligia Braidotti
Posted: 08/21/2017 10:46 AM

Lorraine James will be performing at the 2017 FemFest’s Bake-Off event.


Lorraine James will be performing at the 2017 FemFest’s Bake-Off event.

In a month, Sarasvati Productions will be empowering female writers at their annual theatre festival. In a month, Sarasvati Productions will be empowering female writers at their annual theatre festival.

Joseph Abetria is putting in practice the skills he improved at Stratford Festival this year.
This year has been filled with milestones: the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the 50th Canada Summer Games, and for Sarasvati, its 15th FemFest.

Sarasvati has premiered more than 30 brand new plays over the years through the festival and FemFest 2017: Coming of Age will represent the growth and the development of the festival.

The theme revolves around growing up, maturing and accepting oneself. Artists will take the audience on a journey exploring how people move forward as individuals and as a community.

“Some of them we started by supporting their development and readings and then doing full productions, so I think we’ve really seen a blossoming of artists and work that has come out of FemFest over the years,” Hope McIntyre, Sarasvati Productions’ artistic director, said.

“It’s been amazing to see how those individuals have gone on with their careers since originally being part of the festival.”

Joseph Abetria is a costume and set designer who lives in the North End and is coming back to FemFest for the second time to design this year’s full production, Two Indians. He recently returned from an apprenticeship at Stratford Festival where he was an assistant designer for the play Romeo and Juliet.

He graduated from the University of Winnipeg’s theatre honours program with a focus on design and production in 2014. During Stratford Festival he practised his talents in a bigger scale and said working FemFest is like a “walk in a park.”

“It’s the same skills that you use; you just get to sharpen them every time you do something, so it was easily transposable on designing for FemFest.”

Two Indians is a play written by Toronto playwright Falen Johnson about two Mohawk cousins who meet in a Toronto alley to recreate a ceremony from their childhood. The play is directed by Sonya Ballantyne, an Indigenous film-maker McIntyre is mentoring to direct stage theatre.

“When we started looking at producing (Two Indians) we had this dilemma: there are not any professional, available Indigenous directors in Winnipeg,” McIntyre said. “We want to find ways to support not only emerging artists but artists who are lacking in the mainstream theatre right now.”

Abetria said he’s grateful to be working with Ballantyne because she has the resources to help him accurately reflect Indigenous culture.

“It’s great that I get to work with plays that usually wouldn’t be put on just because statistically it is usually men who produce and less women,” he said.

Lorraine James is one of the artists involved with the Bake-Off, an event where playwrights are provided with a list of topics and have to write a play in eight hours. James is one of the actors who will be performing.

James, who’s been involved with FemFest since the beginning, has auditioned to several theatre companies in Manitoba and has yet to perform with them. She said FemFest is a significant event for both playwrights and actors who don’t get to perform elsewhere.

“Some actors start off at FemFest, and they might do bigger theatres. Others don’t get roles at the Manitoba Theatre Company or Prairie Theatre Exchange, and they might have a lot of stage time at FemFest or Sarasvati Productions.”

The actress from The Maples said her hopes at FemFest are always to be entertained and to watch what her colleagues are doing.

“There’s a lot of originally written stuff in FemFest that you won’t find at local theatres. Other local theatres will have well-established playwrights and… there’s always a place for a writer who’s looking to debut their brand new stuff, especially if they are brand new themselves,” she added.

Other shows playing during FemFest are Watching Glory Die produced by Nova Scotia’s Mulgrave Road Theatre and written by Judith Thompson, and Tomboy Survival Guide, written and performed by award-winning author Ivan Coyote, will be presented at West End Cultural Centre (586 Ellice Ave.).

FemFest runs from September 16 to 23 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony St.). Tickets are $15 to $20 for single shows, and a full festival pass is available for $50. For more information go to

Fem Fest in September

Although I'm participating in Fem Fest, I'm now posting the event page for this. There are passes to buy if you'd like to do it all or a portion of it, but for anyone who isn't done with the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and wants more theatre, have a look at the schedule to see what you'd like to see. There's something for everyone!

“Encounters of the Diner Kind” at the Metro!

Last night was the encore presentation of all the 48 Hour Film Competition entrants. Ours didn't make it to Gimli, but we saw our film play last night, so there was some closure. Amanda Kindzierski is always a pleasure to work with and I hope to make more fun-filled adventurous films with her, feature films especially.
Here's the program from last night's event:

I was also amazed at the quality of the other films as well. You couldn't tell the amateurs from the professionals up there! I hope all of them go onto bigger and brighter futures with their film careers and to even work with some of them. Ben Williams put on a great even! The host, Milos Mitrovic did an awesome job of amusing us too.