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What to See Winnipeg

The Play’s The Thing

By Janice Tober

Winnipeg has long been known for its rich cultural scene, generating artists who dazzle the world with creativity in both the visual and performing arts. It is our theatre scene, however, that wins Winnipeg the cultural crown.

In a city home to the country’s oldest English regional theatre, as well as Canada’s longest-running French company, theatre is ingrained in the hearts of Winnipeggers who grow up experiencing thought-provoking plays produced by these venerated institutions. It is these early companies that have emboldened aspiring artists to create theatre groups of their own, in all shapes and sizes. WHERE Winnipeg offers a sneak peek of the plays that promise to be the most talked-about dramas, inspiring stories and laugh-out-loud comedies of the 2016/17 season.


Royalty Lives Here

Winnipeggers often look to the city’s most prominent stage, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, to keep them entertained. It is the only theatre in Canada to receive royal designation, and is housed in a stunning Brutalist-style building in the Exchange District that commands respect. With a 58-year history, the company has a record of producing plays that hit the mark with audiences.

Steven Schipper, the company’s Artistic Director, states, “planning seasons is the only thing that I don’t delegate,” as he works to find plays that appeal to Winnipeg’s sophisticated artistic palate.

RMTC’s season opener, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (adapted by Simon Stephens), is a co-production with Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. This Tony Award-winner, based on Mark Haddon’s bestseller of the same name, begins when fifteen-year-old Christopher is accused of killing his neighbour’s dog. The story follows Christopher, diagnosed with autism, as he works to clear his name and solve the mystery on his own. A strong and stimulating choice, this coming-of-age tale exposes Christopher’s vulnerabilities as well as his strengths with insight and humour. The show runs from Oct 20 to Nov 12.

Just down the street from RMTC is its second stage, the Tom Hendry Warehouse. With its own full season curated by Schipper, the Warehouse focuses on works that are more provocative and controversial than those seen on the mainstage.

The season begins with another play based on a novel: My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok. Running Oct 13-29, Aaron Posner’s stage adaptation is a thoughtful meditation on how an artist and his or her work can be driven by a compulsion that threatens both family and tenets once held dear. This co-production with Montreal’s Segal Centre is well-suited to the Warehouse’s smaller space where theatregoers are close to the drama unfolding in front of them. “It’s a perfect play for our intimate Hendry Theatre,” says Schipper. “Audiences embrace work that touches, challenges, and entertains, while asking important questions about how we may best live our lives.”

Courtesy Theatre Cercle Moliere

Courtesy Theatre Cercle Moliere

Multiculti Stages

Winnipeg’s multicultural makeup is mirrored in the city’s arts groups. In St Boniface, signs and snippets of conversation en français are reminders that French voyageurs settled here, and it is Théâtre Cercle Molière—the oldest French theatre in Canada—that best reflects this distinct Francophone community.

Geneviève Pelletier, Cercle Molière’s Artistic and General Director, chose to open the season with Et que ça saute!, an original piece by Winnipeg playwright, Danielle Séguin-Tétreault. Pelletier says she wanted to “kick off the season with a real side splitter,” and, with a title that translates to mean, “And make it snappy!” expect fast-paced dialogue and quick comedic timing. Centred around five people in an apartment building who are all searching for something in their lives, the play takes the audience through what Pelletier calls “the twists and turns of a day gone wrong.” The play opens on Oct 13 and runs until Oct 29 with simultaneous translation on certain dates.

In the late 19th- and early-20th centuries Winnipeg welcomed many Jewish immigrants and settlers to the city, many of whom helped create its arts institutions. The Winnipeg Jewish Theatre had its inaugural season in 1987 and has a history of showcasing original plays by some of Canada’s top playwrights—such as work by Winnipeg-born Vern Thiessen, recipient of the Governor General’s award for his moving drama, Einstein’s Gift—that highlight and lay bare the Jewish experience with emotion, comedy and accrued insight.

Running from Oct 27-Nov 6, the 2016 season opener is the Canadian premiere of Another Way Home by Anna Ziegler. Set in the summer during visiting day at Camp Kickapoo, on the surface Another Way Home is simply a witty story that catches parents in the midst of escalating conflict with their son, Joey. But amidst the barbs, the play examines what it means to be a family desperately trying to deal with a troubled son.

Courtesy Soul Pepper Theatre Company

Courtesy Soul Pepper Theatre Company

Bring the Kids

Manitoba Theatre for Young People evolved from Actor’s Showcase, an amateur theatre group that offered training for local talent, and grew with a new mandate to become one of the most respected stages in Canada for its creative, built-from-scratch productions and innovative children’s programming. Since its beginnings in 1982, the company has never rested on its laurels, winning its first award in 1992—the Canadian Institute of the Arts for Young Audiences Award—before earning a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production in the Theatre for Young Audiences category in 2007.

The 2016 season opens with Alligator Pie (running Oct 26-Nov 6), an original Dora Award-winning production by Toronto’s Soulpepper company. “The whole play is built around the beloved poems of Dennis Lee,” comments Pablo Felices-Luna, the company’s new Artistic Director, “so all of our fun is made possible through the work of an outstanding Canadian poet. And that’s how we wanted to launch, [with] all of the wildness you can experience at our theatre.” The play is full of infectious musical numbers and theatrical zaniness, but underlying the high-energy production is a message about the importance of friendship.

Courtesy Prairie Theatre Exchange

Courtesy Prairie Theatre Exchange

Go Grassroots

Since opening its doors in a ramshackle building in the Exchange District, Prairie Theatre Exchange has always been a small company rooted in the community. The theatre offered its rehearsal space to amateur groups and allowed them to perform on its stage between its own shows. Today, PTE is found in a downtown shopping centre, and it still belongs to Winnipeggers: in 2007 it opened its Playwrights Unit, where experienced and new local playwrights are provided with an office, the resources needed to put on a live reading or workshop, and input from fellow auteurs.

PTE continues its focus on work by Manitoban and Canadian artists with the play The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble, penned by Canadian playwright, Beth Graham. Running from Oct 12-30, the play centres on Bernice’s daughter, Iris, as her Mom calls the family together to announce that she has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. The emotionally heavy story can be challenging for audiences, but when asked about this selection for the 2016/17 season, Artistic Director Robert Metcalfe explains, “This play was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 2015, and I love it because of its fundamental honesty and heart in addressing some very serious subject matter—including the unique relationship between mothers and daughters—and the choices we make, both in parenting and in life.” Metcalfe has no need to shy away from difficult work, knowing that the city’s erudite audience is up for the challenge.


Hot Art: Editor’s Pick: Bird Lady’s Swan Song


In January the world lost a powerful creative force when influential and prolific pioneer of modern Inuit art Kenojuak Ashevak died at age 85. Ashevak’s distinctive, enchanting imagery has graced Canadian stamps and coins, earned honourary doctorates, a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, and the distinction of highest auction sale price of any Canadian print at $52,000 USD. Her final masterpiece,Tall Tundra Bird (pictured), is a stunning stonecut and stencil that fittingly features Ashevak’s favoured subject: a mythical and nearly supernatural bird. Nunavut Gallery is the place to see this very special artwork and many other resplendent Ashevak prints. 603 Corydon Ave, 204-478‑7233.

Field of Dreams

chronic creative

chronic creative

Winnipeg Blue Bomber Glenn January knows good things really do come to those who wait. While construction of the team’s new home at Investors Group Field was neither rapid nor without hiccups the boyishly handsome offensive tackle points to the final score, a win for Winnipeg. “I’m happy it was done the right way it was worth the extra time because this is a fantastic facility that is going to be absolutely at the top for years to come.”

Investors Group Field celebrated its grand opening June 27 with the kickoff to the 2013 Canadian Football League season that saw Winnipeg face the Montreal Alouettes. Situated on the University of Manitoba’s sprawling Fort Garry campus, the world-class athletic field was built to replace the inadequate and crumbling Canad Inns Stadium (1953-2012). The new, modern facility is home turf for both U of M Bisons and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The city’s former CFL digs were set in a concrete jungle, a far cry from the lush greenery surrounding Investors Group Field. Visible from Pembina Hwy, the structure’s fluid form and gorgeous architecture has quickly established the field as a point of civic pride. Winnipeg’s latest and greatest landmark joins the ranks of quintessential ’Peg places such as Esplanade Riel, The Leg and Manitoba Hydro Place.

While football is the building’s bread and butter, it has already hosted a multi-denominational Christian service of 14,000 worshippers and a sold-out Taylor Swift concert. Sir Paul McCartney is scheduled to rock the gridiron mid August.

Spectator comfort is much improved here, it is easy to get about the stylish structure with six elevators and spacious corridors. The sunken bowl design (the first 12 rows of seats are below street-level) creates great sightlines at every level and fans will appreciate twice as much legroom and a cup holder on each seat. Eighty per cent of the seats are sheltered from the elements by the second-largest canopies in North America. Swanky private suites offer gourmet grub, complimentary WiFi and a bird’s eye view of golden Bomber helmets shimmering on the green turf.

Plenty of accessible washrooms and a designated booze-free family zone promise to make game day a great experience for everyone. A tempting roster of concessions (twice as many as Canad Inns Stadium) offers a wealth of choice reflective of the city’s food scene ranging from fresh sushi and gelato to bison burgers and local bratwust. At Shawarma Khan you may even be served by owner and former Blue Bomber, Obby Khan.

Bomber Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Bell uses a suitably sporty analogy of adrenaline to describe the frenetic energy cloaking the facility as everyone, from Bomber Store staff to football players to construction crews, puts in finishing touches. Finally standing on glistening turf at centre field beneath epic undulated fins and NFL-sized video boards, Bell gets emotional, “It’s been a long process that included all of the planning, not just bricks and mortar. You feel six feet off the ground with goose bumps down your back.”

Bomber and Bison brass know their shiny new digs are attractive to prospective athletes and energizing to current ones. Players are excited about the state-of-the-art training facility that includes a jet propulsion hot tub, an underwater treadmill and an underwater bike, super spacious locker room and player’s lounge, 2,200 sq. ft. weight room, multiple meeting rooms and an 80-seat theatre with descending projection screens.

Signature canopies and bowl seating were designed with the team’s 13th player in mind, this city’s notoriously boisterous fans. Ripples of the roof amplify the crowd’s roar, intimidating opponents and adding to the Bombers’ home field advantage. “Winnipeg was already the hardest city to play in due to the fans and how knowledgeable they are of the game and how rambunctious they get so this is just going to add to that,” January says. “Hopefully it makes Winnipeg a city that nobody wants to come and play in.”

A formidable, unnerving environment to visiting teams is an exciting, energetic environment for fans. Investors Group Field is a winning spectator experience. Now all we need to do is sit back, enjoy a cold one with a hot dog and watch as the Bombers bring home the Grey Cup. Go Blue!

7 Must-See Pieces of Free Winnipeg Art

Public Winnipeg Art: Monument

Public Winnipeg Art: Michel de Broin’s Monument

Monument @ La Maison des artistes visuels francophones

Underneath their granite veils, two anonymous figures stand hauntingly in the Jardins des sculptures on the lawn of La Maison des artistes visuels francophones. Eschewing classical sculpture rules, Monument artist Michel de Broin shrouds the identity of these figures. This artistic rule-breaking plays on the old-versus-new theme inherent in Winnipeg’s French Quarter. Visitors can find other works about a block and a half east of the Provencher Bridge. The newly developed sculpture garden at this artist’s centre houses permanent and temporary pieces for contemporary tastes.
• La Maison des artistes visuels francophones, 219 Provencher Blvd., 204-237-5964, maisondesartistes.mb.ca
• Map and reviews


The 5 Winnipeg Architecture Marvels You Don’t Want to Miss

Winnipeg Architecture

This building is one of our Winnipeg architecture marvels. Click it to find out what it is! (Photo: AJ Batac)

At the turn of the 20th century, Winnipeg architecture earned the city the title “Chicago of the North.” The Peg’s reputation as an architectural mecca didn’t begin and end with the boom of the 1900s, of course. Many structures from before and after that period are marvels and offer many stunning photo ops. With Where.ca as your guide, delve into the legends and lore of five Winnipeg architecture jewels—and gawk at these breathtaking pictures, too.

Start the slideshow of storied Winnipeg architecture » 

Louis Riel Walking Tour: A Gorgeous Stroll Through Winnipeg’s History

Louis-Riel-Walking-TourMétis leader Louis Riel is one of Manitoba’s most notorious historical figures, and many of the defining moments in his life—and in the history of Manitoba—happened right here in Winnipeg. Learn more about his life and influence with our self-guided walking tour that criss-crosses fast flowing rivers, from the Manitoba Legislative Building to old St. Boniface via the Esplanade Riel.

Start the Louis Riel Walking Tour »
Jump to the walking tour map »




20 Free Things To Do in Winnipeg


Things to Do in Winnipeg—Exchange District

Free things to do in Winnipeg: take in the art in the Exchange District (Photo: Travel Manitoba)

Get acquainted with Winnipeg’s art scene
On the initial Friday of every month, galleries in the Exchange District—Winnipeg’s hub for local art—hold their “First Fridays” event, at which visitors view the exhibits for free and learn about the vibrant Winnipeg cultural scene.
• First Fridays Winnipeg, 505-63 Albert St., firstfridayswinnipeg.org

Learn how to brew a beer
Half Pints Brewing Company offers a behind-the-scenes look at how it cooks up its best beer. Sneak a peek at the process for free every Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
• Half Pints Brewing Co., 550 Roseberry St., 204-832-PINT, halfpintsbrewing.com

See the rest of our picks for the best 20 free things to do in Winnipeg »


Hannah Georgas Tours Canada: Q&A With Vancouver’s Irrepressible Singer-Songwriter

Vancouver’s Hannah Georgas on tour

With her self-titled new album and tour, Hannah Georgas is turning over a new leaf. Gone are the acoustic guitar-tinged folk melodies of the Canadian indie darling’s previous efforts The Beat Stuff and This Is Good; on Hannah Georgas (and on her current tour), you will find catchy melodies and synth-infused electronic beats. But though the album’s influences seem endless – everything from Foals to John Maus to Calgary’s Chad VanGaalen – the songs are still undeniably Hannah. They may indicate a slightly darker and more self-assured musician, but the impeccable musical and lyrical stylings that earned her a 2011 Juno nomination for “Songwriter of the Year” remain perfectly intact. Where Ottawa‘s Erica Eades sat down with Hannah Georgas on day three of her cross-Canada tour in support of fellow Canadian five-piece Mother Mother.

Read the full Q&A, in which Hannah Georgas discusses her tour, her process and her inspiration »