Close your eyes and imagine spring – I promise it will get here eventually! Imagine walking along the gorgeous streets of West Broadway and admiring the many stunning character homes that occupy the neighbourhood. The snow is gone, the air is warm and you can hear the leaves bustling in the wind. Quite a lovely picture isn’t it? Why not make it a reality?
In less than two months, Sarasvàti Productions will open the Winnipeg premiere of Fefu and Her Friends inside the walls of Ralph Connor House, a Winnipeg heritage treasure located in the heart of West Broadway.
This particular home was built in 1914 for Reverend Charles Gordon and his family. The Reverend was a prolific and popular writer who gained international acclaim for his best-selling novels Black Rock, The Man From Glengarry, and Glengarry School Days just to name a few. His pen name was Ralph Connor, hence the name of his former residence. Now owned and operated by The University Women’s Club of Winnipeg, Ralph Connor House located at 54 West Gate has become an important Canadian legacy and a valuable educational and community resource.
Over the years, the house has become a popular destination for various events in Winnipeg including weddings, film shoots and theatrical events. Sarasvàti Productions has most recently decided to use the space as the venue for Fefu and Her Friends by Cuban American playwright Maria Irene Fornes. The play is set in a country house in New England in the spring of 1935 and takes the audience through an entire day, as Fefu’s guests arrive to plan a charity event. The action of the play climaxes in a murder scene in the evening. Although written in 1977, the play explores timely themes of oppression and how we attempt to deal with our feelings of discomfort in a repressive society.
“We are excited to be presenting this work in the beautiful old heritage house operated by the University Women’s Club of Winnipeg,” says Artistic Director Hope McIntyre, “as it fulfills our mandate of using non-traditional forms of theatre to tell stories.” Fefu and Her Friends will run from May 22nd-June 1st, 2014.
Theatre goers are likely to be particularly excited for the format of this piece, which will have audience members traveling to different rooms while watching the story unfold. This will ultimately give audience members the opportunity to admire the design and architecture of the house, which fit so perfectly with the time period of the piece. It is an immersive experience that most who attend will most likely not soon forget.
The play is best known for helping to establish the off-off Broadway experimental movement in New York in the late 1970s. Its unique absurdist and surreal elements combine with the powerful use of space to make it a full experience for the audience. It is also known for its unique use of an all-female cast. Organizers are particularly pleased that the production will feature an entire cast of 8 local female theatre artists. Stage veteran Megan McArton will lead the cast as Fefu. Elena Anciro, Julia Arkos, Nan Fewchuk, Brenda McLean, Tracey Nepinak, Tracy Penner and Kelci Stephenson round out the cast. The production will feature the work of several local artists behind the scenes as well.
So open your eyes, put on your walking shoes, grab a friend and head on over to West Broadway! See you in May inside the lovely Ralph Connor House.