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. In 2007 FemFest introduced an international component with its first International guest to Winnipeg (Mũmbi Kaigwa from Kenya). This component will continue with the goal of allowing for greater cultural sharing between artists.
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.
Past FemFests include:
FemFest 2003: A Festival of One-Act Plays by Women
FemFest 2004: Plays by Women For Everyone
FemFest 2005: Celebrating Women Theatre Artists
FemFest 2006: Breakin' Out
FemFest 2007: We've Come A Long Way!
FemFest 2008: Winnipeg, Canada, The World!
FemFest 2009: Herstory