The following projects are plays in which Rachel has been involved in the creation of. Please note, they do not include work in which Rachel’s primary involvement was as director or performer.
Developed Through Collaboration
Fractured Expectations was the first production under the company name Timeless Weaver. Rachel Smith Directed and Produced the show.
What kinds of expectations do you have in life? Finish your degree and immediately find your dream job? Go on a blind date and find the person of your dreams? Expectations can become a positive mantra to help you achieve your goals. Other times they can be a curse— an endless stream of disappointments. Fractured Expectations was a comedic exploration of how to survive in a world of well wishes and inevitability.
Rachel Smith assembled an artistic team that worked together under her direction to create a play based on the theme of expectations. The cast and crew collaborated to create the show’s outline but most scenes relied strongly on improvisation, so audiences never saw the same show twice.
Fractured Expectations explored its themes via the journeys of four characters, played by Alicia Coulson, Jacob Janzen, Matthew Lupu and Erica Wilson. Sandy Klowak was a collaborator and stage manager. It was presented as part of the 2018 Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival.
The Lower Depths
Adapted by Claire Borody
Rachel Smith was heavily involved in The Lower Depths over the past few years. She took part as Project Manager, Public Relations Coordinator, Research Assistant and as an Actor.
More than one hundred years ago writer/activist Maxim Gorky wrote his play in response to the systemic urban poverty occurring in central Moscow as a result of the shifting political systems and social class induced injustices. It was a critique, not only of the situation itself, but of a society that would allow and enable the suffering of its most vulnerable members. His hope was that the play would serve as a rallying point for change and he believed in the power of the people: if people were informed, they could set in motion action to improve the situation.
Urban poverty continues to be a pervasive issue across the globe and here at home in Canada. Winnipeg is home to the second poorest neighbourhood in the country: second only to Vancouver’s East End. Yet the solution to the problem does not seem close at hand.
The Lower Depths Project did not aim to educate with facts and figures but rather to illustrate the affect of poverty on the human condition and interaction. The event was a play reading followed by a discussion. The project was intended to be contribution to the conversation that seeks solution: What can be done, what needs to be done to change the cycle of poverty.
Insomnia was a collective creation produced by Rachel Smith and Kaitlin Aiello.
Insomnia was a movement based performance piece that explored the relationship between sleep and restlessness. It was inspired by the secrets hidden in darkness, the only time when we are in a state of unknowing. When we sleep we are unaware of ourselves and our surroundings. Even those who suffer from insomnia often experience a warped perspective of consciousness which is clouded by exhaustion and frustration. The performance captured the unconscious moments of body twitches, tosses and turns, and restless fits that many people experience in the late hours of the night.
The performance ran for the full duration of Nuit Blanche (6:00pm-4:00am). Audiences were invited to come and go as they pleased.
Featuring Performers: Anthony Ferens, Jacob Janzen, Jennifer Genest, Kaitlin Aiello, Maria Grant, Natalia D’Abramo and Rachel Smith; with stage manager Sandy Klowak and artistic adviser Leigh Anne Parry.
Insomnia was part of Nuit Blanche Winnipeg and was an Illuminate The Night Open Call Project funded by Winnipeg Arts Council.
Where We’re Bound
Created and Performed by Rachel Smith
Home is a concept that sparks different ideas, memories and feelings for everyone. Some people long for their childhood, some long for future goals, others connect to a place they once visited where they felt a sense of belonging. Sometimes home has negative associations that cloud the mind with bad memories.
Rachel Smith worked with residents of the Red Road Lodge over the span of three months in order to get to know some of the residents and to hear their stories about Home. In her sessions at the lodge she collected stories, memories, feelings and ideas associated with Home. The collected work was developed into a short solo performance: Where We’re Bound. Her focus in the development of the piece was to incorporate the vast range of feelings she heard and observed.
Where We’re Bound was performed at the Edge Gallery as part of their exhibit: Home.
Created and Performed by Rachel Smith
Fairy Tales are timeless stories that hold no loyalties to any one place. They are tales of the world passed down through oral traditions and the written word. They teach us lessons, take us on journeys and provoke our imaginations to make the impossible come to life. Little Red Riding Hood is one such tale. Versions of the story about a girl and a wolf come from all areas of the world and the repertoire of stories continues to grow.
Written and Performed by Rachel Smith, RED examined these different stories. Through extensive research on various adaptations as well as the academic literature that surrounds Little Red Riding Hood, Rachel developed a solo performance piece that exposed the tale in a unique way.
The most recent incarnation of RED was actually the fourth staged adaptation. Rachel performed it during her final year at the University of Winnipeg; for her Master’s Thesis at the University of Manchester, UK; and as a ten minute excerpt as part of Sarasvàti Productions FemFest Cabaret. The final performance took place at MTYP in Richardson Hall, as a stand-alone, self-produced play. Each performance was unique, consisting of different takes of Rachel’s initial concept of creating an intertextual performance.
RED was a project four years in the making. It incorporated several different versions of Little Red Riding Hood. Some directly quoted, some text written by Rachel and some adaptations or theories were represented through movement. RED was an intertextual performance that told the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the story of Rachel’s journey with it, the story of changing adaptations and most importantly the story of a girl who encounters a wolf.
Mindy and Marge
Mindy and Marge are comedic characters developed by Rachel Smith and Kaitlin Aiello. The two expert travellers are a bumbling duo who often find themselves lost and off topic. They like to give “expert travel advice” which should not be followed by anyone who hopes to stay safe while travelling. The characters of Mindy and Marge are based off of real people Kaitlin and Rachel have observed. Marge is an adventurous bookworm, who always has her notebook with her and provides audiences with the most informative facts. Mindy focuses more on the shopping and pampering side of travel. She likes to pass on her own worldly knowledge, usually to the displeasure of Marge.
Mindy and Marge were first created in 2014 as part of Antiscian Productions Fringe show Wanderlust. They were such a crowd favourite that the pair returned in 2015 with their own show Tourology: A Mindy and Marge Adventure which toured in the Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringe festivals. Since Tourology, Mindy and Marge have presented two informative lectures: Iceology: A Mindy and Marge Adventure and Worldly Rituals: A Mindy and Marge Presentation.
In addition to their performances, the duo can often be found appearing at local festivals to be met with smiles and laughs from new observers and previous audiences alike. Their success is a combination of satirical humour and family fun. Whether they are bumbling around at a festival or doing a presentation, Mindy and Marge will be sure to bring laughter to audiences with their silly antics and banter.
To get a better idea of who Mindy and Marge are, visit Antiscian Productions YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUiPGuH6u2tQJKtBKdK62QA
Wanderlust was the first performance created by Kaitlin Aiello and Rachel Smith and was the beginning of their company Antiscian Productions. Kaitlin and Rachel had both recently graduated from different programs both focusing on devised theatre. They decided to put their new skills to practice by collaborating on the creation of Wanderlust. They were inspired by their recent experiences of living away from home and created a very personal account of homesickness.
Show Description as it appeared in the Winnipeg Fringe Program:
“What could be better than leaving the wide open Prairies to travel the globe? Surely there’s no downside, right? Travel and Homesickness: two inseparable words. Two women join together to examine their own experiences as well as those documented by others through a variety of mediums; the result of which is a devised production that is sure to be captivating for anyone who has ever left home.”
The Magic of Belle Vue
Created and Performed by Dhana Cartmell, Cuiyan Wen and Rachel Smith
The Magic of Belle Vue was a project in collaboration with the University of Manchester and Chetham’s Library. It was a performance based on the Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, an entertainment park that existed between 1836 and 1981. Belle Vue was the first of its kind and continues to be unique in comparison to other entertainment parks. It consisted of an amusement park with rides, festivals, concerts, theatrical performances, competitions and a zoo. It had nightly fireworks and its own kind of Hollywood boulevard consisting of the handprints and footprints of celebrities like Davy Jones of the Monkeys. Disneyland modeled after Belle Vue, and other entertainment parks may have as well.
The performance was created by using archives and conducting interviews in order to gather material. The interviews were with people who attended or worked at Belle Vue before it closed. The interviews were also added to the Chetham’s collection as Oral Histories. The archives used as research were part of a collection at Chetham’s Library; it was a large collection consisting of photographs, newspaper articles, old programs and posters, and other such artifacts.
In order to create The Magic Belle Vue, approximately 145 years’ worth of material was used to inspire a 30-40 minute performance. Two performances were created, one for the community and one at a Primary School, for children between the ages of six and eight.