Actress played all three roles in tearjerking performance

By Sydney Small

Stephanie MacDonald, 34, performs in “Watching Glory Die.”/MULGRAVE ROAD THEATRE

Audience members at FemFest wiped tears from their eyes as Stephanie MacDonald took her final bow at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film last Friday, September 22.

Sarasvàti Productions’ FemFest is known for showcasing the talent of female artists and giving women a voice to share their stories on stage.

MacDonald, 34, starred in Watching Glory Die, a play inspired by the story of New Brunswick woman Ashley Smith.

In 2007, correctional officers watched as Smith strangled herself to death inside a segregated cell in a Kitchener, Ontario prison, according to a report by CBC News.

Sarasvàti Productions’ blog said the play provides a commentary on the harsh treatment that female inmates, like Smith, are subject to in Canadian prisons.

“For me, it’s an honour to be able to take work that I feel is amazing and share it with Winnipeg audiences,” said Hope McIntyre, founding artistic director of FemFest. “And then to see the impact it has on audiences who are affected by seeing someone else’s perspective, by having stories told that might not be told otherwise.”

MacDonald portrayed all three fictionalized characters: Glory (the inmate), Rosellen (Glory’s mother), and Gail (the corrections officer) in the play penned by Judith Thompson.

“When you’re presenting three characters with three totally different tracks through a story… you have to kind of see everyone’s side,” MacDonald said. “I think it’s more uncomfortable for people and starts a broader discussion when you can see yourself in the person that’s the ‘bad guy.’”

Stephanie MacDonald, 34, reflects after her final FemFest performance of “Watching Glory Die” on Sept. 22, 2017./SYDNEY SMALL

MacDonald said the play helped show people some of the uncomfortable realities of the Canadian prison system.

“As long as there’s solitary confinement, and as long as there’s a discussion about police force in particular or corrections officers abusing power, this is a place where people go ‘oh, this happens in Canada,’” MacDonald said.

FemFest showcased various plays, readings, lectures, and workshops over the course of the week. McIntyre, 44, hopes the festival will continue to be a launch pad to bring the work of female actors, playwrights, and directors to the stage.

McIntyre said it’s rewarding to see how the festival has played a part in artists’ development and their careers.

For more information on how to get involved with FemFest 2018, visit the Sarasvàti Productions website: