Women’s Month Gets Edgy

A Rundown of the Femme Festival

In Succube brings theatre and contortion to the Edgy Women Fest Photo by Valerie Sangin

From the Jazz Fest to Just for Laughs to POP Montreal, festivals in this city run the gamut as far as size and style—but few feature a deeper purpose the way the Edgy Women Fest does.

Taking place over the second half of Women’s History Month, the festival, produced by arts centre Studio 303, features shows, workshops and conferences with a feminist slant—and a bit of a twist.

“With the festival I’m trying to provide points of view that are not traditionally associated with feminism,” said Miriam Ginestier, artistic and general director of Studio 303, who works to promote the development of live artistic practices.

The festival has five shows, two conferences, an artist meet-and-greet and an “edgy hockey” game. Along with public activities and performances, Ginestier’s seeking to create a community within the festival where people of various backgrounds can meet and share viewpoints.

“That’s one of the things I want to do with the festival—bridge academia, arts and activism,” Ginestier said. “I’m trying to get those people to hang out.”

Edgy Women has existed for almost 20 years, and what started as a single night soon exploded as the producers took advantage of new funding opportunities. The festival now runs for over two weeks.
The lineup of events includes Toronto artist Evalyn Parry’s Spin, a performance that blends music and theatre in celebration of the bicycle. The show takes its audience through the early significance of the bicycle as an emancipator of women to its social relevance today.

Approaching stripping as the most marginalized performing art, Je baise les yeux has three ex-strippers reflecting on their experiences while being interrogated by a moderator.

For a bit more physicality, there’s In succube, which consists of one circus performer and one burlesque performer playing Incubus and Succubus—the devil in male and female form—for a piece of theatre and contortion.

Rounding out the list of shows is Les demimondes, which uses dance, film, song, and movement.

Read our profile on Alex Tigchelaar, aka Sasha Van Bon Bon, about a performance she hosts as the physical embodiment of Prostitution herself.

On March 25, in collaboration with UPop Montréal –a non-profit organization offering free educational activities–there will be a Conference Edgy-UPop at Casa del Popolo, led by Barbara Legault.

“She’s really smart, entertaining and very provocative. I’m really excited about it,” Ginestier said of Legault. “I invited her because I took her feminist Université Populaire course last fall and was completely inspired.”

Legault will host the talk show-style event while artists and activists discuss, and the audience will be invited to join the conversation in the final hour of the event.

Ginestier selected shows for the festival based on whether they would be able to stand out, but also be able to work well as an ensemble. She also sought to bring together various forms of feminism.

“[Feminism] is sort of comfortable in its complexity,” Ginestier said. “A lot of people, if you say, ‘feminism,’ will correct you and say, ‘feminisms.’ […] I think it’s really different for everybody.”

Ginestier wants to show these varied takes on feminism, since, despite their common hopes for equality, they may see the root problems and solutions very differently.

Social feminists believe that oppression is psychological, social Marxist feminists see dismantling capitalism as the way to liberate women as an oppressed class, while reformist feminists believe that inequality can be undone with legislative changes. And, at the edge of spectrum, extreme radical feminists think that a total break from male society is necessary for equality.

“The implication of us having a Black History Month and a Women’s Month is that the rest of the year is white-man month,” Ginestier said. “That’s why we have these things—because we need to.”

Edgy Women Fest runs until April 1 / Check out edgywomen.ca for more info.