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FemFest showcases female playwright talent

There’s girl power in writing plays

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Liza Paul (left) and Bahia Watson created pomme is french for apple, which will be shown at FemFest 2013, a festival for female playwrights.

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Liza Paul (left) and Bahia Watson created pomme is french for apple, which will be shown at FemFest 2013, a festival for female playwrights. Photo Store

FemFest 2013 is here to prove women can do some serious damage onstage and off.
The festival, held annually by Sarasvàti Dramatic Theatre Productions and Repertory Inc., features plays written by female playwrights.

Celebrating its 11th year, FemFest 2013 runs Sept. 14 to 21 at the University of Winnipeg Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.

Hope McIntyre, artistic director of Sarasvàti, said there is less participation from female playwrights, so FemFest aims to change that by offering an outlet for and encouraging women to showcase their work.

"I think some of it is historical," McIntyre said.

"When you think about the classics, they’re all males: Shakespeare, Homer, and so on. And even now, a lot of people doing the directing in theatres are males."

McIntyre believes that women just haven’t been given the opportunity to express themselves — thus, the creation of FemFest.

"We love to say that there’s no one thing that female playwrights write about. They write about diverse experiences," McIntyre said.

Shows in this year’s lineup include topics about the female anatomy (pomme is french for apple), attempted suicide (Flood Control), and marriage (Harold and Vivian).

Twenty-three-year-old theatre student Jessy Ardern wrote Harold and Vivian based on an exercise she had participated in.

"(Sarasvàti) gave us a list of five things to use in a play," Ardern said. "My inspiration was a list of random things. I sat down knowing I had to write a play with an unexpected visit, a slap, and a cake."

Harold and Vivian is a partial clown show about a married couple who hate each other. The plot takes a turn when they gain a yappy couple as their new neighbours.

"And chaos ensues!" Ardern said. "It’s kind of a wild, crazy, exuberant show."

Local actors Colin Connor and Alissa Watson are playing Harold and Vivian, respectively, for FemFest 2013. Connor and Watson were in The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine in this year’s Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

"They went from a clown show about two people in love and going through the trials of marriage to this show about people who hate each other because of the trials of marriage," Ardern chuckled.

Ardern explained that a clown show has nothing to do with big red noses or crazy hair. A clown show is simply a heightened style of performance in which the reactions and acting are exaggerated.

For more information about FemFest 2013 shows or ticket prices, visit sarasvati.ca or call 204-586-2236.

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