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Donna Fletcher is one of Winnipeg’s busiest theatre artists, but luckily for us she found a few moments to chat in advance of Love, Loss, and What I Wore, which she will be directing! Read on to find out more about Donna’s favourite clothes,  what she hopes the audience will take from this special one-night-only fundraiser, and the Nora Ephron movie she loves the most!

What excites you about Love, Loss, and What I Wore?

I love the poignancy of the stories and the universality of each woman’s experience.  I personally identify with about half of these stories and laughed out loud as I saw myself and my own experience reflected from the page. We all have those outfits we wore that we now realize were disasters, we had our mums issue dire warnings about wearing the “wrong” clothes, we have the pieces we hold onto even though they don’t fit because of an associated memory or experience, and we all have the comfort pieces that we slip into when we need to collapse with our favourite beverage and bag of Doritos!

What will your process be for working with the star-studded cast we have assembled for this evening?

I will ask them about their experiences and have them share their thoughts about their clothes [related] memories. I will take them through the script story by story and work to develop that sisterhood that women can easily create through shared experience. I want a lot of laughter and perhaps even some tears.

What do you hope the audience takes away from this production?

I would love the audience to leave feeling uplifted and empowered by these stories. I would love them to feel the joy, humour, pathos, pain and wonder of these stories.  Most of all I want the deep love of the Ephron sisters to fill the room and fill the hearts of the audience.

How do you personally relate to the characters and stories that are shared in the script? 

I am very much a sense memory person.  I absolutely remember everything I was wearing (often down to my shoes and earrings) at seminal moments in my life.  I remember how the clothes felt; the texture, exact shades and cut of the fabric; the cost of the garment (I am a huge bargain hunter!); and most of all how the clothes made me feel. I may not remember the date, the year or who was with me but I can describe my outfit in ridiculous detail!

Do you have a favourite work from play author Nora Ephron? 

I LOVE When Harry Met Sally.  This is by far my favourite of her pieces!

Did you or do you have any articles of clothing that have a special significance to you? 

Oh yes! A pair of brown buckled flats that I wore all through junior high; a beautiful royal blue knit dress that caught my husband’s eye when we were students in University; a two piece navy silk outfit with a gorgeous V neck, short sleeve blouse, and calf length pleated skirt that made me feel tall and elegant; my dad’s cream and tan plaid wool jacket that I still wear to this day! I can go on for paragraphs! Clearly I love my clothes…

Love, Loss, and What I Wore features Gail Asper, Chrissy Troy, Janet Stewart, Nancy Sorel, and Debbie Maslowsky. This special fundraising event is happening for one night only this Thursday, April 20th at 7:30 PM! Tickets are going fast, but there are still a few available –  click here to get yours now!

Winnipeg Jewish Theatre (WJT), Canada’s longest running Jewish theatre company, is thrilled to announce its 30th anniversary season, which features a diverse, dynamic, accessible playbill. The 30th anniversary season programming is a testament to WJT’s artistic mission to present plays on themes of Jewish interest and/or plays by Jewish playwrights; to reach across communities through presentation of universal and socially relevant plays and engage our audience in dialogue; to provide a vehicle for neophyte actors, playwrights, directors, and technicians to participate in professional theatre; and to encourage the development and presentation of new Canadian plays of Jewish interest and/or by Jewish playwrights.

“The thirtieth anniversary season is inspired by a core value the company was founded upon: community,” says Ari Weinberg, WJT’s Artistic Director. “The productions are all about celebrating our commonalities and embracing our differences through works that explore how and why we band together.” The ambitious 2017 – 2018 season is sponsored by the Asper Foundation.

 

The 30th anniversary season will open with Tribes by UK playwright Nina Raine, running October 19 – 29, 2017. The production will be directed by WJT Artistic Director Ari Weinberg and feature local actors Stephanie Sy and Arne MacPherson. Tribes tells the story of Billy, the only Deaf member of a loving, idiosyncratic Jewish family that has tried to raise him as part of the hearing world. When Billy meets Sylvia, a young woman who is going Deaf but has grown up as the only hearing member of her family, Billy’s worldview is blown wide open. As Sylvia begins teaching Billy sign language and introducing him to the Deaf community, he and his family are forced to grapple with questions of belonging. Tribes will mark the professional debut of local Deaf actor Jordan Sangalang in the role of Billy, and will launch WJT’s American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted subscription season, the only one of its kind in Winnipeg. Tribes will have two ASL interpreted performances on October 21 and 26, 2017. The production sponsor for Tribes is Debbie Gray.

The season continues with WJT’s bi-annual So, Nu? Festival of New Canadian Jewish Plays. The cornerstone of the festival will be We Keep Coming Back, co-created by former Winnipegger Michael Rubenfeld and National Arts Centre’s Associate Artistic Director of English Theatre Sarah Garton Stanley. Running March 6 – 11, 2018 with an ASL interpreted performance on March 8, We Keep Coming Back is the story of a mother and son, both descendants of Polish Holocaust survivors, who decide to return to Poland in the hopes of finding their lost identity and reconnecting with each other. However their quest takes an unexpected turn when they discover a vibrant contemporary world of Jewish life in Poland. Michael Rubenfeld’s real-life mother Mary Berchard also performs in the piece alongside Katka Reszke, author of Return of the Jew. The So, Nu? Festival will also feature readings of three new Canadian Jewish plays from March 13 – 15. The festival sponsor is the Gail Asper Family Foundation.

On March 18, WJT will celebrate its milestone birthday with Turning 30: A Retrospective Cabaret. Featuring songs and scenes from past productions, the cabaret is sure to be a delightful evening featuring some of Winnipeg’s finest talent. Turning 30 will also mark the launch of the Jewish Heritage Museum of Western Canada’s partner exhibit on Jewish theatre in Winnipeg, featuring material from WJT’s extensive archive.

The season proper will close with the William Finn and James Lapine musical Falsettos, presented in partnership with Winnipeg’s Dry Cold Productions. Directed by Mariam Bernstein, Falsettos will run May 2 – 13 2017, with an ASL interpreted performance on May 10.  Falsettos is a Tony® Award winning musical that chronicles two years in the life of Marvin, his ex-wife Trina, lover Whizzer, about-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son Jason, their psychiatrist Mendel, and the lesbians next door. Set in New York City between 1979 and 1981, Marvin is forced to reckon with his own views on love, responsibility, and what it means to be a man on the eve of the AIDS crisis. Part intimate family drama, part neurotic urban comedy, and part keenly observed meditation on a shifting definition of the contemporary family, Falsettos is a beautiful reminder that love can tell a million stories.

Subscriptions will go on sale May 4, 2017 with single tickets on sale in September. Subscription package costs will range from $70 – $100.

We hope you had a restful and relaxing holiday season!

We are extremely excited to be starting our year with a partnership with the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. Together we will be presenting noteworthy poet and playwright Endre Farkas. Endre will be reading excerpts from his newest novel Never, Again, and we will be presenting selected scenes from his play, Surviving Wor(l)ds. 

Set in post-war Communist Hungary, in the fictional town of Békes, Never, Again is the story of seven-year-old Tomi Wolfstein, the son of Holocaust survivors who have never told him anything about their past experiences in the concentration camps. The story opens in the fall of 1956, when Tomi is about to start school, and chronicles his adventures and experiences in the months leading up to and during the Hungarian uprising. Surviving Wor(l)ds is Endre’s own journey, about the terrors of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of his parents and himself.

This is a free event that will take place in the Berney Theatre at 7:30 PM  on January 26 for International Holocaust Day of Remembrance. Seating is rush. We would like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for helping make this event possible.

Up next, we will be presenting How to Disappear Completely. Written and performed by Israeli Canadian playwright and lighting designer Itai Erdal, How to Disappear Completely is an award winning play that has toured across Canada. We are so excited to be bringing this “gently profound… thoroughly engaging” multimedia tour-de-force to the Prairies.

What is it about? In September of 2000, Itai received a phone call telling him his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and had nine months to live. Despite being a recent film-school graduate, he promptly moved back to Israel to spend every moment he could with his dying mother. During that time he shot hours of film and hundreds of pictures, documenting the final months of her life. In a starkly simple yet deeply profound new work, Erdal invites us to witness the story about the circumstances surrounding his mother’s passing. How to Disappear Completely runs from March 23 – April 1 2017 at the Berney Theatre.

Keep an eye and ear out in late March as well – we will be announcing our very exciting 30th Anniversary season!

For one night only on April 20, we will be presenting a reading of the smash New York City hit Love, Loss, and What I Wore, by Nora and Delia Ephron. This reading is directed by Donna Fletcher, and is a fundraising event. All tickets are $75.00, and attendees will receive a partial tax receipt.  Featuring an all-star cast of local women about town (to be announced soon!) Love, Loss and What I Wore uses clothing and accessories – and the memories they trigger – to tell funny and poignant stories about being a woman.

Also in April, as part of Holocaust Remembrance Week, we will present a reading of Therefore Choose Life by Kathy Kacer and Jake Epstein. Inspired by true events, Therefore Choose Life tells the tale of a Holocaust survivor who has remarried and started a new life in Canada. When a letter from the past arrives unexpectedly, he is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma about leaving his wife of thirty years or returning to his first and true love. We are honoured to be sharing this new play with Winnipeggers after it’s successful world premiere at the Harold Green Jewish Theatre in Toronto in 2015.

We bid farewell to our 29th season in May with a production of Matthew Lopez’s powerful drama The Whipping Man, starring local actor Ray Strachan. Set in Richmond, Virginia in 1865 at the start of Passover and the end of the US Civil War, we witness a young Jewish Confederate officer named Caleb, who has just returned to his family’s estate to find it in ruins. What unfolds is a haunting and quietly powerful story about race, power, religion, and responsibility. The Whipping Man will run from May 4 – 14, 2017 at the Berney Theatre.

The reviews are in, and Buyer & Cellar is a hit!

“Whether or not you’re a Streisand fan, Buyer & Cellar is easy to buy into.” – Joff Schmidt, CBC

“Buyer & Cellar is an evening of wholly entertaining theatre…” – Randall King, The Winnipeg Free Press

CBC Manitoba:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/wjt-s-buyer-and-cellar-a-weird-funny-look-into-streisand-s-world-1.3570005

Winnipeg Free Press:
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/arts/streisand-looms-large-in-quirky-one-man-show-378676221.html

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