Behind the Curtain

Art based on real experiences is the rawest of all. This year’s Cabaret of Monologues will feature four written monologues performed by different actors, while five other artists will perform their own pieces in various artistic mediums. This year’s selection contains a plethora of real-life experiences and each year, we ask the playwrights and performers to tell us a little info about themselves to share with you, our audience.

Meet some of this year’s playwrights and performers…


Beth Lanigan: Playwright – Yearning/Distance

Beth Lanigan is the playwright of the piece Yearning/Distance. Beth grew up in Freelton, Ontario and currently lives in Kitchener, Ontario. She describes herself as a “an overly earnest, overly anxious, overly sensitive person who also has heaps of curiosity, drive, and compassion.” Yearning/Distance follows the story of a new mother experiencing postpartum depression.

How do you relate to your piece?
“After giving birth to my first child, there was a profound disconnect between what those around me expected me to feel, and what I did feel. This piece has elements of what I experienced with my own post-partum depression. I also incorporated various aspects of the experiences of others who shared with me their own.”

How does it relate to this year’s theme, Changes?
“Having children is a profound time of change in a person’s life. Your body has changed, your hormones are wreaking havoc, and every moment of every day after the birth scarcely resembles the days that came before.”


Brooklyn Alice Lee: Playwright – The A Word

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Brooklyn Alice Lee in IWW Cabaret 2019

Brooklyn Alice Lee is the playwright of the piece The A Word in this year’s cabaret line-up. Brooklyn describes herself as an emotional open-book. She wrote her monologue based on personal experience. The A Word follows a young woman as she enters a hospital to terminate her pregnancy, but finds the decision is a hard one to make.

“I was feeling a lot of trauma and sadness following my abortion and I needed an outlet to share my thoughts and feelings, so I turned to theatre,” shares Brooklyn on creating the piece.

How does it relate to this year’s theme, Changes?
“Along with the changes that happen on your body and in your mind when you become pregnant, society is also changing when it comes to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. What is socially acceptable to talk about and what is not. Abortion has always been a very taboo topic, but society is working towards being more understanding and supportive of pro-choice.”


Kristen+Einarson+headshotKristen Einarson: Stand-up Comic – Oversharer

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Kristen Einarson is a local stand-up comic who will be bringing her routine to this year’s cabaret. Kristen describes this past year as a “hot mess” and uses the year’s experiences and lessons in her comedy routine.

“I decided to start talking about it into a microphone and if even one human in the audience relates to me, I have done my job. My favourite thing about stand-up comedy is the vulnerability, and people don’t realize that theatre and stand-up interlope in that way” says Kristen on creating the piece for International Women’s Week.

How does your piece relate to the theme of Changes?
“It’s about big, scary life shifts and how it feels when they all happen at once. We have all been through periods of change – whether it be a career change, a relationship change, moving houses, changing hobbies… it’s just not often they all happen at once.”


Larissa Hikel: Playwright – Ping elevator_746x419

Larissa Hikel expresses herself as relentless, observant and ruthless, but promises you won’t notice so long as you’re having fun. Larissa’s piece Ping contains subject matter that every woman can relate to. The lead character is afraid to enter her own apartment building as it is the setting of a previous attack she faced, by a strange man. Larissa thanks “outrage” for the inspiration of this piece, as she draws from a real life experience.

How does your piece relate to the theme of Changes?
“Almost every woman has the person she was/is ‘before’ and ‘after’ the first experience of a sexual assault or the threat of one. Suddenly the world is a different place. Both the outside world and the one inside each of us.”


See these monologues and MORE during International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues 2020! Running March 2-8 with two public performances at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (at the University of Winnipeg) on March 7th. Tickets on sale HERE.

Stay tuned for more on the other monologues and performers in this year’s cabaret.


 

National Day of Remembrance

Content warning: Violence against Women-December 6th massacre, murdered and missing indigenous women


Gender-based violence continues to be a rising issue in Canada. Violent acts bred from hate, misogyny, homophobia and racism continue to increase, especially towards Women. On December 6th, 1989, fourteen young women were murdered by a gunman chanting “I hate Feminists” at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. December 6th has been named the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

Although 2019 marks the 30th anniversary since this tragic massacre, issues around gender-based violence have yet to improve in any real way. When talking about domestic homicide, it is important to note that over 70% of victims are women. The number of women who don’t report their physical or psychological abuse is on the rise through no fault of their own, but due to a lack of action and seeming indifference within our society and systems. The rising number of murdered and missing indigenous women is one of the most frustrating and heartbreaking examples of how these gender-based acts of violence and injustice continue to plague our country.Dec-6-Memorial-Plaque

Winnipeg remembers and honours the 14 victims of the December 6th massacre with events and memorials around the city:

  • 10am-11am Annual Memorial – Manitoba Legislative Building, gather to honour the women who were killed and remember the Manitoba women who have died in the past year
  • 12pm-1pm on December 6th there will be 231 Calls to Justice at the Manitoba Legislative Building. Hosted by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Girls liaison, MKO Inc., the 231 Calls for Justice are “231 steps that need to be taken by governments and Canadians to end the genocide of Indigenous women and girls.”

D8Jmp1XXYAIelHjFind the 231 calls HERE

On December 6th, join us in honouring and remembering Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colga, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.


 

Monologues and Beyond

This year, we take International Women’s Week beyond the constraints of traditional monologues. The menu for this year’s Cabaret of Monologues will include half written monologues brought to life by local performers and half performances by artists from other creative mediums. These creative pieces will range from dance to song, from spoken word to mime.

If you missed out last blog post on IWW 2020, click HERE, you’ll find the first four theatrical monologues have been announced. As for the other half…. exciting new work is being created, here’s a little sneak peak to help whet your appetite on who and what you can expect to see…


Kweskina by waNda wilsoN

Wanda Wilson playing her electric guitarSome of you may remember waNda from last year’s Cabaret. WaNda recently received her Red Seal as a mechanic, and her title for this year’s piece means “change your thoughts” in Cree. She performs a beautiful combination of storytelling and musical performance, stemming from her own personal life experiences.


Bringing movement to the stage, is a dance piece by Maria Grant. Maria runs Drop In Dance Winnipeg and will Choreograph a piece to perfectly fit this year’s cabaret and the theme of “Change”.


Hailley Rhoda performing with her stuffed elephant

Last year, a piece by Hailley Rhoda utilized puppets!

The bold, beautiful and Deaf by Joanna Hawkins

As a deaf artist and member of 100 Decibles, Joanna will explore the world of mime and bring to life the art of silent storytelling.


Oversharer by Kristen Einarson

Kristen has had a really big year. She split up from her partner, she got a whole new career path, she started filling in her eyebrows, she had a mini nervous breakdown at her friend’s bachelorette party and started doing stand-up comedy. This is a monologue of things she has told people that she probably should not have. In her signature comedic style, Kristen is vulnerable and hilarious, and her piece will take you on a ride of social anxiety, insecurity, and uncertainty. She probably shouldn’t be writing such big promises in a show description. She probably shouldn’t have said she has a signature style. She also wishes she gave her character a more interesting name, like maybe “Harriet” or “Susan”.


The art of spoken word poetry will have a place in this year’s line-up. Writer, activist and member of Red Rising Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie will share her original work.

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Last year’s spoken word artist, Shereen Ramprashad


Save the Date! These pieces will be performed from March 2-8 for International Women’s Week with just two opportunities to see the full line-up on March 7th. Keep up to date as we travel across the province to various stages, organizations and venues to bring these pieces to life in the name of women everywhere.

What better way to celebrate International Women’s Week, than to host a performance yourself? To host any number of the monologues above, contact info@sarasvati.ca for details on availability and price. We would love to perform for you!


 

Songi-deewin: Here & Now

Progress towards phase two of the Reconciliation Through Theatre Project is underway! Our first phase of workshops was crucial to phase two and the final product. From the art and stories shared by youth at our Seven Visions workshops series, an artistic team with on-going youth advisement will compile a multi-media piece to be performed in May, 2020. We are happy to announce the official title for the final performance, Songi-deewin: Here & Now!

We are also pleased to announce just a few of the initial team members as we move in to our next phase.


Jo MacDonaldJo MacDonald – Playwright/Dramaturg

Jo MacDonald is Anishinaabe, a mom, theatre fan, writer, and an Educator. She gave up dreams of super-villainy as it wasn’t as lucrative as depicted at the job fairs (false advertising…but then again what can you expect from an evil genius job pitch?). She received her BA and B.Ed. from the University of Winnipeg.  Jo had her Winnipeg Fringe debut with her comedy play Mother’s Little Secret in July 2018. Jo’s play NEECHIE-ITAS premiered in Oklahoma in June 2019.


Darla Contois – CollaboratorPicture1

We are pleased to have the workshop facilitator from the first phase continue in making sure the stories shared by youth are honoured in the script. Darla Contois is a Cree-Salteaux performer, playwright, and facilitator. She graduated from the Centre for Indigenous Theatre’s professional training program in 2014, attended David Smukler’s National Voice Intensive and premiered her solo show White Man’s Indian at Summerworks 2017 in Toronto where she was awarded the Emerging Artist Award. Since relocating to her hometown, she is passionate about using her theatre experience to uplift and empower Indigenous youth in Winnipeg. Darla was last seen in Prairie Theatre Exchange’s production of Happy Place.


IMG_3822_Facetune_08-11-2019-11-57-11Bear Harper – Mural Artist

We are also excited to introduce, Bear Harper. Bear was one of the youth at our Children of the Earth workshop back in June, as part of our Seven Visions workshop series. Bear created a sketch that caught our attention and prompted Sarasvàti to approach Bear for our Reconciliation Through Theatre performance in May. We have commissioned Bear to create a mural based on his sketch from June to be displayed as part of the performance in May 2020.

Bear graduated from COTE in 2018. He has spent most of his life sketching and began to explore painting more once in High School. Bear has had some art displayed at local grocery stores and art shows, but the mural will be his first big project. Bear is ecstatic to be creating something that he feels is meaningful and progressive. He cannot thank his support group enough. Through any and all trauma and hardships, he is overwhelmed with the support and love from friends and family.


Job Opportunity

We are also looking to hire an Indigenous production team for the May 2020 performance. Indigenous set, lighting, costume and sound designers are all welcome to apply! Candidates will be compensated and must be able to work independently, we will accept submissions from those with transferable skills/experience as well. To apply, send in your resume to info@sarasvati.ca before 11:59PM on Friday, November 22, 2019.

Production Team(1)


Currently, we are exploring themes, material and everything else that will go into Songi-deewin: Here & Now. Stay tuned for more information! Visit our website for more information on phase one.


 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

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Hailley Rhoda performing “Talking About ED” IWW 2019

Change. Like it or not, it’s happening everyday, all around us. The world is ever evolving and changing, whether it be for better or worse and we evolve along with it. International Women’s Week: Cabaret of Monologues is now officially in progress and we are excited to announce that this year’s theme is… Changes! Emotions, thoughts, opinions, body, politics, technology – it all plays a part in our changing lives and what better way to express these changes, than through theatre.

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Renee Hill performing “Oracle Jane” IWW 2019

This year’s selected monologues will explore how we navigate a changing world . Four monologues have officially been accepted into this year’s cabaret, while others are in the process of being curated and workshopped. The selected monologues feature four different women in four very different situations of change. Until we have a full menu of monologues for you to devour, here are the official first four to whet your appetite…


Masks by Makrenna Sterdan

Ms. Jones works to keep positive as she teaches a school of children about air pollution. But, when she is alone with fellow teachers and staff, the dark truth about the day’s lesson is revealed.


Yearning-Distance by Beth Lanigan

A new mother struggles to describe her changing world and herself. She simultaneously experiences and explores the detachment and dissociation of her postpartum depression.


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waNda wilsoN performing “Bare Bones” IWW 2019


The A Word by Brooklyn Alice Lee

A young woman enters The Women’s Hospital, alone and afraid she struggles to complete paperwork while questioning the nurse and herself about her decision to terminate her pregnancy.


Ping by Larissa Hikel

Jessamyn returns home from a late shift at the bar she works at. She is cautious entering her apartment building as she recounts the terrifying events from the night before. Events that women today know are far too common.


International Women’s Week: Cabaret of Monologues will take place from March 2-8, 2020. We will once again tour the monologues to various locations around Manitoba and

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Shereen Ramprashad performing “I Am Not a Victim” IWW 2019

offer two public performances at the end of the tour. Last year we were excited to travel as far as Flin Flon and to perform in tiny classrooms as well as huge museums. If you’re interested in hosting any of this year’s monologues, give us a call at (204) 586-2236 or email us at info@sarasvati.ca!

Stay tuned for updates and more information on International Women’s Week: Cabaret of Monologues 2020, coming soon!

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Performers from IWW 2019

Work-Work-Work-Work-Workshops!

Workshops are essential to the artist. Experience and practice are EVERYTHING when it comes to the arts and what better way to gain experience and practice than by learning from a pro? Our 2019/20 workshop season begins tomorrow! We are working hard to find the facilitators for each workshop so you can get the most out of every single one. This year’s topics will range from what you need to know on the stage, to behind the stage and everything in-between.

Audrey-Dwyer-240x300Tomorrow, Audrey Dwyer will host a Coffee with a Pro session on playwriting with invited participants. Audrey Dwyer is a multi-disciplinary artist with over twenty years of experience working as an Actor, Director, Playwright, Teacher, Facilitator and Mentor. She is also a couple months in to her role as the Assistant Artistic Director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. Dwyer will share her insights and answer questions in a special intimate setting with emerging artists.

 

Another Coffee with a Pro session will be held a few weeks following on devised theatre andraea-sartison1with Andraea Sartison of One Trunk Theatre. Andraea Sartison is a theatre artist and event producer in Winnipeg. She is the founding Artistic Producer of One Trunk Theatre and is known for her creative performance concepts, interdisciplinary collaboration, devised theatre and the integration of technology into live performance. Invited participants will again have a chance to sit down and chat with Andraea on her work in devised theatre.

A huge thank you to Forth Café for hosting and supporting these unique meetings!


ali-robsonAs for on the stage, Ali Robson will be facilitating a movement workshop on January 19, 2020. Ali Robson is a dance artist who works in both dance and theatre and is curious about collaborating across disciplines and creating work with and for people of all ages. Ali is a collective member of Weather Parade Dance Theatre, is the Associate Artistic Director of Company Link and is a board member for Young Lungs Dance Exchange. Ali teaches movement at the University of Winnipeg and other classes for children and adults throughout Winnipeg. Participants will have the chance to learn about movement in theatre from Ali, while having the opportunity to practice her teachings in the space. If you’re interested in attending the workshop, please send an email expressing interest in the workshop with your full name and contact information to liz@sarasvati.ca.

 

Some other workshops we are exploring for the coming months are…

  • Drag performance
  • Production 101
  • Accessibility in the arts
  • Cultural diversity in theatre
  • A revised One Night Stand reading series

Stay tuned for more information on future workshops. Visit our website HERE for more details on the season!


 

Reconciliation: It’s Not Scary!

Nope, these aren’t Halloween masks. They’re the creation of youth from Knowles Centre, just one example of product from our The Art of Reconciliation workshops!

Reconciliation through theatre is not a one-day job. Since April, our team has joined community organizations to facilitate workshops with youth in the name of Reconciliation and completed the final workshop on October 24, 2019. The amazing team behind these innovate workshops is comprised of Nova Courchene- Project Coordinator, Marsha Knight- Indigenous Outreach Coordinator, and Darla Contois- Workshop Facilitator. Most workshops were also facilitated by various guest Indigenous artists.

DSC_0475We were also happy to host a fundraiser event on October 23, 2019. The fundraiser was a huge success, with a delicious indigenous 1491 meal prepared by Steven Watson and special guest artist KC Adams who spoke beautifully on her experience as an Indigenous artist. The fundraiser helped support Sarasvàti’s transformative theatre work.

We asked Nova Courchene to comment on Reconciliation Through Theatre as we wrap the first phase of the project, she spoke passionately on the subject…Nova Courchene Headshot

“It’s been an emotional, but amazing experience to work with youth who have experienced so much in their lives as Indigenous youth. The youth we had the privilege to work with and get to know on a very personal level shared their experiences and how they view reconciliation, how racism has affected their experiences, and stories about their everyday lives.”

Each workshop offered something unique – whether it be painting, drawing, rapping or acting. The workshops offered a creative outlet that allowed the youth to thrive and demonstrate their talents as young artists.

“We’ve met such talented and creative young emerging artists. From charismatic budding actors who stole the show, to extremely talented visual artists including comic story tellers, to gifted painters, sketchers, costume designers, and various other visual arts.”

Now that the workshops have concluded, phase two of the project begins. All of the art and stories collected throughout the workshop process will be compiled by our team. We will welcome playwrights Jo MacDonald and other artists as we work towards finding the most exciting way to turn the work in to a performance in May 2020 at The Forks. However, the work with the community doesn’t end there!

DSC_0395The preparation has begun for the next stages and we are currently in search of established and emerging Indigenous talent as set designer, costume designer, lighting designer and other production team members.

It is important to us to maintain the relationship with the community throughout this entire project. This is why we are on the lookout for Indigenous community members who would like to be involved with the second phase of this project. If you or someone you know has experience in production please send us an email at info@sarasvati.ca or feel free to give us a call at (204) 586-2236!

Stay tuned for more information on Reconciliation Through Theatre and the final performance in 2020!

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