The making of a play

May 21, 2018

I do believe this is the last of all the articles I have kept in my possession during my final university year.

Working on The Uniter, the University of Winnipeg student newspaper, was the beginning of many, many years of freelance writing, sitting on some magazine boards and working on a couple of small newspapers for a year here and there.

This writing also led to writing four books.

Writing was my first passion. This was replaced when I began to tea leaf readings and tarot readings combined with psychic channelling.  Both are communicating in beautiful, meaningful ways.

I have learned and grown so much from both of these passions.

Through writing, I have learned, through interviewing so many people, about concepts, ideas and situations I never would have known about otherwise.

The following article, about how a play is put together, is one of those topics:

The Uniter

Wednesday, November 22, 1978

The making of a play

by Tanya Lester

Last summer, Reg Skene, U of W theatre director, was driving back to Winnipeg from Toronto.  The long drive gave him lots of time to think. He had no conceptions about the play he would do for this fall’s U of W theatre production. Then an idea came to him.

The idea grew into two and half months hard work. The kind of work only a person involved with a theatre production can fully understand. On Tuesday night, with the opening of  “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare, the idea became a concrete reality.

In September, the different elements needed to produce a play began to take shape, under Reg Skene’s supervision.

“We’ve looked at it as if it was just handed to us from the playwright,” said Rick Skene, actor and theatre carpenter. Any preconceived ideas from Victorian or Edwardian productions of  “The Tempest” were ignored. It was treated as a contemporary play.

“It started with interpreting the play,” said actress Jennifer Fulton. Under Reg Skene’s direction, each actor analyzed his or her character role.

Then the actors began speed readings until the line became almost second nature. However, they were not read as Victorian verse.

“The lines were treated as common language,” said actor Jean-Marc Morin. As a result the audience will not find the Shakespearean lines difficult to understand.

Concurrently, David Hewlett,  U of W designer/producer, began organizing the play’s technical aspects. Before the practical production work began, Hewlett started “playing with ideas” involving the metaphorical and visual images the play would project.

The production crews were set up and construction on sets started. The play deals with magic so the sets reflect this quality.

From designs and models of the set structures, the carpentry crew made the set modules. The module used as a ship and a cave, was made with double hinges, pulleys and a plexiglass covering…

“It’s not a now you see it, now you don’t magic,” said Hewlett. The sets project physical magic through the notion of perfection. The circle, the square, and the pyramid (all mystical forms) are used.

By November, everybody was working “25 hours a day” said Rick Ito, production crew member.

The actors were blocking scenes. The blocking was changed as the actors discovered new aspects of the characters they would portray.

“The whole thing, in acting, is to create a three dimensional character. If you can’t sell it to yourself, you can’t sell it to the audience.”

Two weeks before the play opened the lighting crew started the practical work of cleaning lights and setting up cords. The lightning in the play is done by “a sudden increase of intensity with blue light,” said Hewlett.

The sound man, Terry Penner, worked with Skene to produce sound that fit closely with the play. One example is the moog synthesizer which makes the sounds of the storm.

Sunday was the first day the actors were dressed in full costume for rehearsal. The costumes are not Victorian but are styled after fashions from various time periods.

“The Tempest” has always intrigued me,” said Reg Skene. “It starts off as an adventure story and halfway through it seems to stop.” It goes on to examine the internal psychology of the characters.

Skene believes Prospero the magician represents every man’s life in the play.

“Within the individual psyche, the conscious mind is a magician,” said Skene. “One can re-shape the world by altering his conceptions. But man also has emotions and imaginations and a body.”

Prospero has “magical power over nature” but according to Skene, he “bullies imagination (Ariel) and rejects the body (Caliban).” Like any man with power, he forgets the importance of his human qualities. He seeks revenge through his power, rather than love and forgiveness.

Skene summed up the theatre production’s aim.

“We want to create a dream, with enough nightmarish quality so people will realize something.”


To read more posts in this blog of eclectic themes and genres written by Tanya over several decades, go to and

Tanya’s books are : Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writers.  The first two titles are available from the author and from for purchase. All four books can be found in some library systems.

Tanya has worked as a psychic counsellor for many years now with a specialty in tea leaf reading, tarot as well as psychic channelling, mediumship and gypsy card reading. She is also a Reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. For more on her work, go to her website at and/or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.  To book a time to get a reading for her or to arrange a housesit, text or call her at 250-538-0086 or email her at





Prof. investigates Americanization at U of W

May 15, 2018

The following article that I wrote for The Uniter probably marked one of the first times that I realized everyone was not destined to like everything I wrote or write.

After it was published, someone else who ‘helped out’ at The Uniter, announced in the student newspaper’s office that one of her professors said the article had a racist tone. She had emigrated from the United States herself.

This shocked me because, at that time, I think Canada was much more dominated by Americans who lived both in and out of Canada than it is today.  It was a little bit like saying bullying  and domination only happens if the person who bullies is originally from the same country in which you live.

But trust me on this: anyone feels a sting when she or he writes something and is then thoroughly criticised for it.  Especially when it is against domination and control of one group over another.

Maybe it was something deeper than this. Maybe the professor who criticized what I wrote was really criticizing the professor I interviewed for the article.

I have say, to this day, I am still proud of this article as it brought into the open something that needed to be said about Canadian and American relations.

Here is the article:

The Uniter


Prof. investigates Americanization at U of W

by Tanya Lester

University of Winnipeg (U of W) academics have found it necessary to investigate the Americanization of this university’s liberal arts program.

Peter Brown, Canadian history professor at the U of W, prepared a report for the U of W senate sub-committee based on the Symons’ Canadian studies report, Brown found his own study “deeply offensive intellectually” because it has come to the point where Canadians find it necessary to research the Americanization of their own universities.

However, Brown realized the need for his study.

“A colleague mentioned to me,” said Brown, “that not one student, in his class, could tell him how senators are appointed to the Canadian senate.”

In his report, Brown said Canadian universities must ” reflect the past and present development of Canadian society and political life in its own, and not a borrowed framework.”

Dominance of American ideology, in Canadian universities, has hindered this development. American education emphasizes discipline specialty rather than the students’ “whole” education. Brown feels specialization is turning the university into “a playpen.”

Brown discovered most U of W departments offer a good range of Canadian oriented courses. He is concerned, though, about the prairie regional emphasis. He feels students should be encouraged to study other Canadian regions, also.

Brown is disturbed about courses offered at U of W that are not specifically Canadian oriented. He criticizes the political science department for not using the political ideas of Canadians, such as Bishop Strachen and John Graves Simcoe, in their classes. In the sociology department, many American trained professors have never read, and certainly have not taught the writings of S.D. Clark, a Canadian sociologist.

A Canadian studies program is offered at the U of W.

“The enrollments have never been high,” said Brown. “For one reason, students have to take French as a major requirement.”

The program presents drawbacks because it is a separate discipline. Other professors do not feel obligated to teach students about Canada. They might feel students interested in Canada can take a Canadian studies’ course.

American professors’ infiltration into Canadian universities resulted from the “baby boom” and more democratic Canadian post-secondary education. In the 1960’s, American professors were sought to fill the teaching position gaps. Last year, the Canadian department of manpower and immigration cracked down on American professors coming to Canada.

In the past, Canadian professors have feared job jeopardy, if they insisted upon more Canadian course content, in their American dominated departments. However, Brown found most professors, at the U of W, were concerned about the lack of Canadian content in courses.

In his report, Brown said one American professor was not worried.

“It’ll all blow over,” said the professor. “It’s just the natives getting restless again. You guys can’t pick on the Quebecois anymore so you’re going to make the local Yanks sweat a bit.”

One only needs to look at the U of W calendar to realize the large number of “Yanks” and American educated professors who teach at this university.


Tanya has worked for a couple of decades as a psychic counsellor with a specialization in tea leaf reading and tarot. She is also a Reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. To read more about what she does, please go to her web site: and/or her pages on  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. To arrange for a reading or a housesit, contact Tanya by text or call 250-538-0086 or email:

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writers. The first two can be purchased from the author or from  All of these books are available in some library systems.

To read more posts in this blog of previously published writing by Tanya in many genres and on a variety of topics go to and

Savino Cautions Tenants

May 14, 2018

Again, I must state that writing for The Uniter gave me experience writing articles of a community nature and of a progressive nature.

This prepared me to write for many of the other publications with which I went on to have journalistic connections mostly as a writer but also on the editorial board level.

Some of these were Canadian Dimension, HERizons, The Gravelbourg Gazette, Prairie Fire, Gulf Islands Driftwood, The Barnacle, Fireweed, CV2, etc. etc.

This article is about rent controls, which might be a concept and a term that is not even used anymore in 2018:

The Uniter


Savino Cautions Tenants

by Tanya Lester

Last Thursday, Vic Savino, a North-End Winnipeg lawyer involved with landlord-tenant disputes and rent controls, spoke at the University of Winnipeg. The topic discussed was “What to do when you have trouble with your landlord.”

Savino came to the U of W to “reach out to problems that may be in your mind” regarding tenant’s rights when your landlord increases the rent. These problems have become more complicated since the Conservative government passed rent control legislation Bill 62.

Under the “rent de-controls” program, Savino explained a tenant remains under controls if:

. he lives in Winnipeg or Brandon

. rent for his residence is less than 400 dollars per month

.the building was occupied by an tenant before October 1, 1973

.he remained at the same residence after September 30, 1978

However, a student who sublet his residence for the summer remains under controls if he returned to the same residence before the lease expired.

Under controls the landlord can raise his rent 5% if the tenant pays heat and light bills, 5 1/2 % if the tenant pays either heat or light bill, and 6% if the tenant pays neither bills. Savino said even this rent increase can be disputed — a fact the government “does not publicize.”

If the landlord decides to raise the rent about controlled rates, he must apply to the Rent Review Board before he can legally increase the rent. He is required to give the tenant a notice of his application three months prior to rent increase.

Savino cautions the tenant not to move when he receives the notice. If he does move, his old and new residences with be decontrolled.

The tenant should go to the Rent Review Board office, in Winnipeg at the Imperial Boardway Building, and ask to see the landlord’s file. It will contain the landlord’s material and maintenance costs that should justify the rent increase.

If the tenant feels the rent should not be raised, he can go to the Rent Review Board hearing. Savino urges tenants to go to the hearing. The rent will probably be raised if only the landlord is present.

Even when the rent is raised, the tenant can appeal. Until the appeal is held, the tenant’s rent is frozen at the previous rate.

Savino referred to the “Rent De-controls” pamphlet distributed at the U of W last week. It was prepared by the Law Union; a group of lawyers, law students, and legal workers. Savino said one aim of the union is to make the tenant realize “when you’re getting screwed and know you can do something about it.”


To read more posts in this blog of eclectic stories on many different themes and in several genres by and about Tanya, go to and

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader,  Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters and  Women Rights/Writes. The first two books can be purchased from the author or All books are available in some library systems.

Tanya has worked as a psychic counsellor for decades with a specialization in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channelling, mediumship and gypsy cards. She is also a Reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. For more about her work, go to her web: or to her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. To book a reading or housesit, text or call Tanya at 250-538-0086 or email:



Forever yours Marie-Lou

May 13, 2018

My theory is that social media is so popular because it gives us all the opportunity to share our experiences, to talk about them, to process why we love, hate, like, dislike something.

I think writing reviews has always given me this same kind of satisfaction.

You go to a play and it excites you or it is a piece of sh#@ or you learn something or it makes you think, “Yeah, right.”  And, we want to share these things with other members of the human race.

Sometimes when we try, they stifle yawns.

If you are a writer, you can write what you think of different types of Art. It is down there on paper and people can pass it by but at least some people will read it.

And, it is leaving a mark.

I was there and this is what I think (thought) about being there:

The Uniter


Forever yours Marie-Lou

by Tanya Lester

If entertainment is something funny, light, or a reality escape, MTC Warehouse’s “Forever Yours Marie-Lou” is not entertaining.

Michel Tremblay’s play deals very effectively with a depressingly real aspect of society. The audience is forced inside the walls of a Montreal apartment and into a private family’s life. A family that is being destroyed by North America’s biggest hang up — sex.

To emphasize the reality, the play is written in the surrealistic genre.

The surrealism is difficult to detect in the first few minutes of the play. There are four characters, on the stage, who appear to be talking about something they do not want to do. Then, it all becomes apparent.

The sisters, Carmen (Theresa Tova) and Manon (Alexe Duncan), are discussing something they would like to block from their memories forever. Meanwhile downstage, the parents, Marie-Louise (Elan Ross Gibson) and Leopold (Peter Rogan), are re-enacting the events that caused the tragedy Carmen and Manon are desperately trying to forget.

At first, the audience sympathizes, as the pathetic Carmen does, with Marie-Louise. The broken-down woman reminds her husband of the times he has raped her. Then, the audience turns to pity the drunken Leopold and the whorish Manon.

By the end of the play, however, the audience realizes that society, and not the family, is to blame for their tragedy.

“We’re like gears in a big wheel,” said Leopold, “but we’re scared to stop it because we think we’re too small.”

In “Forever Yours Marie-Lou”, the actors yell and scream to be heard and are heard. The audience becomes totally aware of the problem. Typically surrealistic, the play lacks only one important think: the solution.


Tanya Lester works mostly as a psychic now; with a specialty in tea leaf reading and tarot. She is also a Reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. To find out more go to her web: and/or to her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. To book a reading with her, text/call 250-538-0086 or email:

To read more posts on this blog of eclectic writings in various genres and themes, go to and

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. 


NDP members united

May 2, 2018

In Manitoba, provincial politics tends to swing from the Right to the Left. This means from Conservative governments to NDP governments with the Liberals not really making an impact in recent years.


student newspaper like The Uniter is always pro- NDP.

In the late 1970s, lots of us on the paper were further Left in our views than the NDP but probably all of us still voted for the party. There was a Communist Party with a dynamic leader named Paula Fletcher but I think most of us students thought it did not “have a hope in hell” of getting any of their candidates elected on any level other than in Winnipeg city elections. Joe Zuken was elected as a counsellor for many years probably because he was considered a tireless worker for those he represented and despite the fact he was a card carrying Communist member.

I liked to write about whatever I supported and even when it was not specifically about the University of Winnipeg, I was always given a green light:

The Uniter

late 1970s

NDP members united

by Tanya Lester

NDP members met, over the weekend, to debate party policies at their annual provincial convention held at the University of Manitoba. It was a time for members to air their frustrations and differing opinions within their own party framework.

Many resolutions ranging from support of alcohol treatment and education to the strengthening of rent controls and minimum wage increase were passed with little orno debate.

Other resolutions stimulated controversial debate.

The provincial executive submitted a resolution which indicated one of three federal council members, elected at the provincial convention, should be a woman responsible for setting up the participation of women committee. The resolution condoned tokenism, the delegates said. If the executive wanted a token woman, it should extended this tokenism to include a Jew, an Indian, and a homosexual.

In the past and present, women have successfully run for the executive, against men and other women, on merit alone. Some delegates suggested the resolution was a step backward for women.

The resolution was defeated and then called back to the floor for reconsideration. It was passed because of a technicality. The federal party had passed a similar resolution and the provincial party, due to the NDP constitution, could not vote against it.

Another resolution heatedly debated was a proposed amendment on the constitution. The resolution proposed a five person legislative liaison committee to advise the party membership of their elected representatives’ decisions and help determine a legislative program.

This committee might have reduced criticisms towards Schreyer and his former government, if the party was allowed a more active role in legislation. However, the resolution was defeated.

At the convention, Nick Ternette appealed his reprimand from the provincial council. He was sent a letter of reprimand because he ran against a fellow NDP card carrier in last year’s Winnipeg civic election. Some delegates argued for Ternette on the grounds that the party policy was vague concerning NDP members running for civic office.

Ternette’s appeal was defeated but party policy was clarified on the issue. A resolution was passed to terminate NDP membership of an person who runs against a nominated NDP candidate in an election. Ternette said he would continue to run as an independent until “the NDP takes municipal policies seriously.”

Although there were differences of opinions on party policies, there was one event on which NDP members were unanimously united.

In the speech Ed Schreyer delivered on Saturday, he “took off his gloves” and attacked the Lyon government. He likened Lyon’s philosophy to the historical figure who said “Let them eat cake.” He criticized the Conservative government for all the cutbacks they had made, in areas like medical attention, education, and rental housing. Most of these programs were initiated by the Schreyer government.

Schreyer urged NDP members to “keep heart” because the Lyon government will last no more than three years.


Tanya Lester still does some writing but works fulltime as a psychic counsellor, specializing in tea leaf reading and tarot. She is also a Reiki master and instills this healing in her readings as well as being a fulltime housesitter. Her web is at  To book a time with her for a reading or to arrange a housesit, text or call her at 250-538-0086 or email:

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. The first two titles can be purchased from her and from  All of these titles are available in some library systems.

To read more posts in the blog of stories with various themes and eclectic genres, go to and

Shaen `paranoid’ over speakers budget

April 30, 2018

Again, the following story illustrates how being on a student newspaper or student council helps acclimatize students to what they will experience when they step out ‘into the real world’.

This story is ‘about’ cutbacks in the university.

Raise your hand if you have often heard about and/or experienced ‘cutbacks’ or decreases in budgets in ‘the real world’?

The article also goes on to explain the consequences of these cutbacks.

We are most certainly affected more often by a reduction in budgets (governments on all levels do it frequently) than knowing historical facts about Canada or needing to know how to do calculus or remembering  the chemical properties of a substance.

Doing volunteer work and/or being a student advocate or representative is just as important, I believe,as getting good grades in the courses one takes in university, college or secondary school.

Also, the student council member directly experiencing the cutbacks was booking speakers. Now, do you not think hearing someone speak about space colonization can be just as mind expanding as taking a science fiction literature course?

Think about this as you read the following article:

The Uniter



Shaen ‘paranoid’ over speakers’ budget

by Tanya Lester

The speakers’ budget is another area which has been slashed by cutbacks at the U of W this year.

In mid October, Debbie Shaen, chairperson of academic affairs at the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA), found her budget was cut from $12,860 to $9,000.

“I had already booked the major speakers,” said Shaen. “You’ve got to do this quite far in advance. So, now I’ve spent three quarters of my budget.”

Shaen said speakers’ budget in U of W departments have also been cut. At least one department was not even allotted money for speakers.

The situation has made Shaen “paranoid” about bringing in speakers.

Another problem Shaen has experienced is poor attendance at speaking events. Recently C.Y. Ting, an acupuncture expert, spoke to 50 people at the U of W.

Ting’s visit cost $750 airfare as well as expenses for meals and hotel room.

“In Buffalo they booked a room for him which held 600 people,” said Shaen. “Ting said 100 people came, so he spoke in the basketball gym.”

Shaen said poor attendance is partially due to the drop in enrollment at U of W. Another problem is “a lack of communication” between Shaen and Bill Scarlett, VP programmer of the UWSA. More than once, events they have scheduled have conflicted.

Despite the limited budget, Shaen will hire speakers who will “put U of W on the map.” Speakers will discuss subjects pertaining particularly to Canadians as well as others who will discuss universal topics.

J. Peter Vajk will speak on space colonization…

During the year, Walter Stewart will talk about “Strikes in Canada Today and Why.” Timothy Leary ( blogger’s note: yes, it was that Timothy Leary) will speak about “From Inner Space to Outer Space — The Creation of the Future”… (the day of the total eclipse).

She needs student’ suggestions because she can think of “only so many ideas” for speakers herself.

Shaen would like to arrange for more speakers within the university community and the Winnipeg locality….


To read more pieces of writing in several different style and genres written by Tanya, go to and

Tanya`s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew– both available for purchase from the author and from– as well as Dreams and Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes. These books are all available in some library systems.

Tanya has worked for over two decades as a psychic counsellor specializing in tarot and tea leaf reading. She is also a Reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. For more information on these services, go to her web site: and/or her pages at Facebook, Linked, Twitter and Google. To book a reading or to arrange a housesit,  text or call her at 250-538-0086 or email:



You and the YWCA

April 25, 2018

When I was studying at the University of Winnipeg, in Manitoba, Canada, and writing for The Uniter, the student newspaper, I wrote many articles, not only about what was going on inside the university’s walls, but also about what was happening the surrounding inner-city area.

One of the reasons I got a lot of satisfaction doing this was particularly when it came to women’s and other social issues, the mainstream press and media was not doing a lot of these types of stories in the late 1970s.

The following is one such piece. It is about the YWCA and its changing focus on women’s issues:

The Uniter


You and the YWCA

by Tanya Lester

The YWCA was founded a century ago in England as a Christian prayer union. It was a place where a young woman could be prepared for her life’s work — cooking, knitting, and sewing. Today, the YWCA’s main concern is still with women, but it helps modern women deal with their different needs in the 1970’s.

Now, the YWCA offers a wide range of courses which include assertativeness training, contraceptive options, how to start a business, living without marriage, and car repairs. The courses are geared toward the young working woman.

The YWCA women’s resource centre has a good library containing books on subjects particularly concerning women. A person can go to the centre for information on rape, family law, the sufferage movement and other related topics. A non-member can charge out a book with a dollar deposit which is reimbursed when the book is returned.

There are areas, in the centre, where a person can sit and read, do research work, talk, or receive feminist counselling. Speakers talk on women’s problems.

An important new aspect of the women’s resource centre is the social action committee. The committee members include women from varying walks of life so it is able to deal with women’s problems in many areas. The committee members keep in touch with other women’s groups for information and suggestions.

The committee grew from lobbying, the YWCA took part in, to try and prevent the negative change the Lyon government made in family law. The committee is now monitoring the law to make sure judges deal fairly with people tried under the changed law.

They are, also, looking at sexism in education.

“We notice,” said Dyck, “there’re not that many options for boys and girls in junior high other than home economics and shops.”

The committee has sent letters to help persuade the band “Battered Wives” to change their name and attitudes toward women. “Battered Wives” have changed their name for the remainder of their tour but intend to use their original name on any albums they cut. The social actions committee will continue to pressure the group will continue to pressure the group until they discontinue their ‘violence towards women’ gimmick.

For working mothers, the YWCA operates a daycare centre. It becomes especially busy in the summer when most daycare centres are closed. The committee is investigating these summer closures.

Considering the number of YWCA programs offered, Dyck is “surprised more women from the university haven’t discovered the Y.” Dyck is “surprised more women from the university haven’t discovered the Y.” Maybe it’s time they did.


Tanya Lester does psychic readings and specializes in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channelling, mediumship and gypsy readings.  She is also a Reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. For more go to her web: or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Goggle. To book a reading or to arrange a housesit with her,  text/call 250-538-0086 or email:

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes.  The first two titles can be purchased from the author or from  All of the titles are available in some library systems.

To read more of Tanya’s writing on a variety of topics and in several different genres, go to and




This is blog of the many articles published by and about me over several decades as a freelance writer and a tealeafreader/tarot reader/psychic.