Flood Contro by Marilyn Anne Campbelll - FemFest 2013

FemFest prides itself on presenting new work by Canadian Female artists each year, and Marilyn Anne Campbell is definitely a playwright I am grateful to FemFest for bringing our attention to.

This is a smart and funny script, with lovely dark undertones, which focuses on Gina and Ray, two adults who meet on a bridge with the common intention of killing themselves. As the play unfolds, we identify with the hilarious neuroses of each of these characters, whether it is Ray's fear of turning 40 without having kissed a girl, or Gina's obsession with the location of coasters and ensuring things are completed. Hope McIntyre's direction brings a lovely ebb and flow to the text, matching the many pieces of river imagery, meandering smoothly in and out of the conversations with a strong sense of truth. And the performances by Elena Anciro and Grant Burr bring an enjoyable life to the story.

My only quibble is that I would like more! Coming in at 37 minutes, I only just started to feel I got to know them, and the wrap up in the final minutes felt quite quick.


Review - Sonofabitch Stew @ FemFest 2012

This one-woman show tells the story of a Womens' Studies' tutor forced into retirement after her wild-west antics inspired by the life of Calamity Jane embarass the department for one last time. Jane regales the audience with her tales, and after a few minutes we learn that the audience have been given the role of her students at her penultimate lecture. Jane goes on to talk of her career, flashing into moments of Calamity herself. The show progresses back and forth, paralleling the professor's life with that of the Western Female archetype as we hear of her rise to infamy and her ultimiate demise resulting from the very acts which made her famous.

The script itself is intriguing as it twists these two lives together, playing on ideas about what femininity and ultimately feminism are made up of. I did find that the stylistic traits of the language between the two characters was not as distinct as it could have been; this, muddied the ability to distinguish which character was being inhabited at each moment. Ultimately I would have appreciated a clearer distinction between the two, as it would have defined the parallel more clearly. Without this, the two characters spun together a bit too much and made the piece difficult to follow at times.
Overall this was a nice, enjoyable script and one I would love to see further work on.

FemFest 2012 Begins!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Opening Cabaret for the 10th Annual FemFest. I've had a fairly lengthy history with FemFest - I first worked with the festival as Assistant to Director Hope McIntyre (AD of the Festival) for Ordinary Times in 2005. Since then, I've directed workshop productions of new plays (The Dance of Sara Weins, 2006), shared my own work-in-progress piece Lavinia in the 2009 Cabaret, directed scenes for the launch of their book of scenes for female actresses (Generation NeXXt, 2010) and now directing readings of short plays in the 2012 festival. As I sat in the audience, hearing host and festival supporter Susan Tymofychuk speak of the history of the festival, and the opportunity it has provided for emerging artists (particularly female ones) I reflected on these experiences. FemFest has provided me the opportunity to hone my skills as a director and creator of work, providing a safe environment for me to learn and help those around me explore new works of theatre. I don't know of many festivals anywhere in the world that provide this kind of environment, and I must say that my career has been enriched immeasurably due to my involvement with FemFest.

There are shows throughout this week at the Centre for Theatre & Film at the University of Winnipeg; ticket prices are very affordable, including many free readings and talks about creating theatre. I encourage you to try to spend at least an hour taking in a piece of the festival. The work presented touches on all aspects of human experience; from Food Bank usage to Immigrant families, re-imagined fairy tales to readings from esteemed playwrights. Judith Thompson is this year's guest artist. She is one of the most well-known Canadian playwrights, and certainly the most known female playwright from Canada, and her support and participation in the festival says a lot about the amazing work Sarasvati do.

Take some time and check it out this week!

One Director's Perspective...

Between the dissertation, the move, resuming the day job and new projects here at home, I have been rather neglectful of the blog. That said, I have done a little guest-blogging for Sarasvati in the lead-up to Fem Fest (for which I am directing).

Check out my piece, "One Director's Perspective" on their blog here:

Upcoming Project: Shorts! at FemFest 2012, Winnipeg

My first project upon returning to the fair 'Peg is to direct 4 excerpts from plays at the annual FemFest, presented by Sarasvati Productions. These 4 plays will each be presented once between 19 September and 22 September, as an offering in the studio theatre between the two full productions each evening. Tickets for the festival are available through the site; I strongly recommend checking out as much as you can at this excellent event!

I am extremely excited to be working on these 4 unique plays from female playwrights, and will be doing a guest blog about the process and the plays for Sarasvati's blog - which I'll share here :)

I recently did a Q&A for the festival's blog, which you can read here. Have a look to learn my favourite word, and my advice to actors.