Monthly Archives: December 2013

Doreen Right Now: Such Creatures

December 29, 2013

Coming up later this week, Winnipeggers will get the opportunity to see Doreen Brownstone (and Gislina Patterson) perform Judith Thompson’s Such Creatures at the Colin Jackson Theatre.

As you will guess if you read my last blog post, the advice I am inclined to give is “Go see this show”.

However, I went in to that experience (the subject of my last blog post) with no expectations, which undoubtedly formed part of my reaction in that moment.

So, maybe I shouldn’t tell you to see the show. By telling you to see this show, will I inadvertently affect your experience of it negatively?  I have no idea.  But I do want to do my part to get the word out about it; to be on the safe side, I just won’t tell you you’re going to like it.

It’s kind of like I was looking out the window and saw a pair of cardinals.  I would call to anyone else in the house: “Hey, come see this—there’s a cardinal at the bird feeder!” I mean, I don’t see cardinals very often, and they look beautiful against all the white snow.

Now, imagine you are in the house with me. perhaps you have aesthetic dislike for white on red, or you just don’t like birds.  Or you’ve been luckier than me and seen lots of cardinals in your lifetime. It’s all possible.  But maybe you’ll be as excited as I am and come running. In case it’s the latter, I don’t want to deny you the opportunity to see the rare bird by making the mistake of not telling you.

So, the purpose of today’s blog post is to encourage people to go see Such Creatures by sharing useful information about where and when to find it.

I am not producing the show or associated with it: just a fan of some of the principals involved, who wants other fans to have the opportunities I’m lucky enough to know about.

So, I’m telling you: check out Such Creatures this week—4 performances only!

Stefanie (poster and details below)

such creatures-poster


Such Creatures plays at the Colin Jackson Studio Theatre for only four performances:

Thursday, January 2nd at 8 pm,

Friday, January 3rd at 8 pm

Saturday, January 4th at 8 pm

Sunday, January 5th at 2 pm.*

*The final show is at 2:00 pm Sunday. Don’t let that trick you into missing it.


The Colin Jackson Theatre is located in Prairie Theatre Exchange—on the 3rd floor of Portage Place Mall.  It shares the lobby with the PTE mainstage theatre.

When you get to PTE, just walk right into the lobby ‘til you see some friendly welcoming people: tickets will be sold at a table inside the lobby (just outside the doors of the Colin Jackson), not at the PTE box office.


Tickets are only $15, and can be paid for at the door by cash only (there is an ATM in the mall)

You can reserve tickets by e-mailing

Reservations are recommended: who wants to be disappointed at the door?

Parking and Transportation:

There is underground parking at Portage Place.  It’s only $5 most nights, and $7 (I think) on Jets game days.   Take the elevator directly up to the 3rd floor, walk past Imax and turn right.

When it’s this cold and snowy out, an extra $5 or $7 may be worth it. However, there is also free street parking in the area (both in the evenings and on Sunday afternoon); just make sure you read the signs before parking.  I’m pretty sure you can park on a snow route as long as you move your car before midnight (and the show is not much over an hour, so that shouldn’t be a problem).

Other Reasons You should go see this show

  • Such Creatures is being produced by Incompletely Strangled Theatre company, which presented a remarkable production of The Walworth Farce last winter.
  • It’s directed by Arne MacPherson.  Arne has a long track record as a director of creating moving and intelligent shows.  As an audience member, I’ve enjoyed and admired both his acting and directing for years, including The Walworth Farce last year.  Last January I had the pleasure of being directed by him for the first time (in Gallery Works’ Sunday in the Park With George as part of SondheimFest), which only served to increase my admiration.
  • It is the Winnipeg premiere of a play written by Judith Thompson, a governor-general’s award winning playwright.
  • And finally, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s a chance to see Doreen perform. Watching a 91 year old expert practice their craft—in any field—is a rare opportunity, and I don’t want anyone to miss it because they don’t know about it.

Hope to see you there!

Half of SWAK Productions, Stefanie Wiens is a Winnipeg actor, writer, producer, occupational therapist, and fan of independent theatre.  She is currently engaged in her first ever crowdfunding campaign to raise money to create a scripted comedy feature starring Doreen Brownstone (more information here).

Doreen and Me Part 2: the Eureka moment.

On a Saturday afternoon a few years ago I went to Prairie Theatre Exchange to see a reading of Joan MacLeod’s Another Home Invasion (part of PTE’s Carol Shields Festival of New Work).

From the description I’d seen, I knew the play was about an 80ish year old woman, that it probably had something to do with a home invasion, and that it was going to be read by Doreen Brownstone. I liked Joan MacLeod’s writing, and I liked Doreen Brownstone’s acting, so I thought I’d go.

There was an armchair and a rug and I think some kind of a coffee table on the set.   Doreen walked out and sat in the arm chair; Bob Metcalfe introduced things, and sat down off to the side. Perhaps the lights changed. And then it started.

I was so utterly taken in that I didn’t even notice it was being read, and by the end, I was crying. Hard.  As a general rule, I have a harder time getting completely immersed in a reading than I do in a full production. But, as they say, exceptions prove the rule.  As is often the case with theatre, it wasn’t a single thing, but a number of elements coming together that turned this reading into a seminal moment for me.

The first was the play itself. I will resist the urge to synopsize the plot, or say much about it at all: if you want to read a well-written, pretty spoiler-free description, you can do so here (it is published, and I own a copy—I bought mine at McNally Robinson).

The second element was the production/performance.  Doreen’s reading was so simple, so absolutely perfect.  Part of the magic was that she wasn’t playing age, she was just playing the role. But the biggest part of the magic was that Doreen is just a really damned fine actor. And what struck me that day was that she seemed to just be getting better and better.  And why not—she keeps racking up life experiences, and performing experience—there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be continuing to get better, right? And yet just how excellent her performance was surprised me, which brings me to the third element: me.

The themes of the play resonated extremely closely with me because of my work as, and what you could call my world view as, an occupational therapist. The excellence of Doreen’s performance filled my actor-self with admiration, and transported my audience-self into Jean (the character)’s living room for the hour of the show, and also spoke to everything I believe in as an OT (the topic for another blog post, perhaps).

I left the theatre thinking and feeling a lot of things but the one that overrode the others, and has ultimately come to inform what I’ve chosen to spend my time on for the last few years, is that Doreen Brownstone is an excellent actor, and I wanted there to be more opportunities for audiences to see her, and for people like me to get to work with her.

So, that was the more recent beginning of this project.

It is also why my next blog post is going to be about a fabulous opportunity to see Doreen perform, which is coming up in less than a week, for only four performances, which I think anyone in Winnipeg should take the opportunity to see.

More about that later this weekend.


Comments? Questions? Thoughts? Please post them below–I’d love to hear them!

Doreen Brownstone and Me: the deep background

When I first thought of writing a blog about the Doreen Brownstone scripted feature project, I figured the first post after the launch of the Indiegogo campaign should be about how the idea for the project started.  I generally think of it as having begun at a reading I attended four or so years ago…but then I realized that wasn’t really right.

The beginning was really over 20 years ago.  The summer of 1993 was full of exciting firsts for me including (but not limited to): I had just finished my first year of university; I had gotten accepted into the School of Med Rehab (Occupational Therapy) to start in the fall; I was cast in my first fringe show; and as if that wasn’t fabulous (I’d say “awesome”, but it was 1993, so we didn’t use that word that way yet) enough, I was also cast in my first ever Rainbow Stage show: Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Tibor Feheregyhazi. Things were definitely coming up Stefanie.

I was part of the non-Equity chorus, but it was a professional show—my first—and, for a starry-eyed 18 year old, the whole thing was a pretty exciting big deal.

I was in the Mamas’ chorus and I had a few lines, and a tiny solo at the beginning of “The Rumour” (I could still sing it for you if you’d like), which meant I was speaking directly to Yente, Yente! A real character in the play! (exclamation marks belong to the starry-eyed-18-yr-old me).  And Yente was, of course, played by Doreen Brownstone.

What I really remember about Doreen from that show is how genuinely nice she was to me: inclusive, collegial and kind. The fact that I was just in the chorus, or that I was just 18 and had never done this before did not seem to affect how she treated me. As the English might say, “there was no side to her”.

She invited me to come into her dressing room to visit, which I did more than once.  Those visits form my strongest memories of Doreen.  I remember that I learned she had come to Winnipeg as a war bride, and that we talked about Great Britain: Leeds, Yorkshire where she grew up, and St. Andrew’s Scotland where I had recently lived.

After that show, it was about 10 years before Doreen and I crossed paths again but, I realize in retrospect, the memory of her behaviour towards me informed how my then nascent understanding of how a professional could, and should, behave, and formed part of the standard I try to live up to.

And, now that I’ve stopped to think about it, I realize that Doreen’s experienced, inclusive collegiality 20 years ago has not only informed who I am today, and undoubtedly planted the seed of wanting to work directly with Doreen again, which ultimately led us here.

So, that’s the deep, deep background.  In my next post I’ll talk about the more recent ‘beginning’ of the project; unless, of course, I get side tracked onto something else.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the project, check out the video for our Indiegogo campaign, posted below, or available by following this link