Popular theatre festival explores coming of age

Growing up isn’t easy. The awkwardness of transitioning hits us one way or another.

Some of us take the training wheels off our bike and fall over. Some of us take years to answer, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some of us stumble through puberty and question everything from who we love, to who we are, to what we want to wear.

And the obstacles get more complicated when we meet the expectations around our gender—what a woman should face versus what a man should face. But with LGBTQ+ advocacy gaining force, how we define “womanhood” is changing.

Sarasvati Productions’ FemFest 2017: Coming of Age, the festival of plays by women for everyone, celebrates 15 years by opening up the stage to artists who challenge traditional definitions of femininity.

Last year, two transgender performers were a part of FemFest 2016: Transformation. This year, FemFest 2017 has embarked on an exciting partnership with the West End Cultural Centre to present award-winning LGBTQ+ advocate Ivan Coyote’s show Tomboy Survival Guide.

“I saw this amazing concert, spoken word, confessional performance in Whitehorse last year and was blown away,” shared Artistic Director Hope McIntyre. “One of the joys of producing FemFest is getting to bring work and artists of this calibre to Winnipeg.”

In 20 years, Ivan Coyote has written 11 books, produced three music-meets-poetry albums, and visited multiple schools to speak about social justice and gender identity for students and teachers.

Tomboy Survival Guide is an honest and moving piece about Coyote’s experiences—with messages of advice and comfort for those who feel as though they don’t fit in. The poetry will be paired with energized trumpet, percussion, bass, and drum stylings as band members Sal Zori, Pebbles Willekes and Alison Gorman join Coyote on stage.

A scene from “Tomboy Survival Guide” by Ivan Coyote.

Coyote will also offer a special reading from his books for queer youth on Sep. 16 at 4 p.m.

Alongside Tomboy Survival Guide, Sarasvati Productions celebrates 15 years of FemFest with two other powerful shows: Two Indians by emerging playwright Falen Johnson and Watching Glory Die written by Judith Thompson and presented by Mulgrave Road Theatre.

Plus a unique partnership with the Winnipeg Public Library will see the return of The Human Library.

Returning to FemFest this year will be the Opening Cabaret featuring high-energy music, comedy, dance, and film.

Audiences at FemFest 2017: Coming of Age can also experience new readings from established playwrights at the One Night Stand, featuring guest artist Judith Thompson, and a showcase of emerging talent at the annual Bake-Off where on-the-spot creation will unfold.

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