One Night Stand Series: Another World!

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We’ve brought the One Night Stand series back for another year! This time around, all the submissions take place in a world much like our own – but with a few twists thrown in (heaven-sent chili fries? An evil plot about Mike & Ike’s? The drowned remains of Portage Place? What’s going on here?)

This year’s readings will take place in a studio setting, keeping the focus on the scripts and letting the work speak for itself. All five pieces were directed by Daphne Finlayson and will be performed by an ensemble cast: Betty Asseiro, Kate Berg, Kai Chochinov, Kelsey Funk, Rowan Gannon, Cheryl Soluk, Logan Stefanson, and Ryland Thiessen!

We’ve got a great mix for this edition of experienced playwrights and emerging artists – get to know them below!

A Fine Line by Wren Brian

Wren started her diverse career in Whitehorse, Yukon where she was born and raised. A graduate from the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre & Film Honours Program, Wren is a playwright as well as an arts administrator, director, and producer. In her writing, Wren is dedicated to creating characters that can be played by actors of any gender, ancestry, and age. Recently her play Anomie won the 2017 Harry S. Rintoul Award for Best New Manitoban Play at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, and her play Bystander was one of three plays shortlisted for the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada Emerging Playwright Award in 2015. For more information, visit wrenbrian.com.

520lb Breakfast by J.P. Button

J.P. is a young emerging playwright and director from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They have worked out of the Black Hole Theatre Company as well as completed their Bachelor of Arts in Theatre at the University of Manitoba. They continue to find inspiration from the immense talent of their friends and peers. They hope to continue to write, and also one day find Big Foot. They believe that Big Foot would be a fan of the arts.

The True Deeds of the Illuminati by Thomas Donnelly

This play came to Thomas within one of his many mind rambles. He is a student of the University of Manitoba and enjoys writing, film, theatre, music, drawing, and comic books. He was a part of the 2016-2017 U of M Film Production class as part of the camera crew and recently took part in the university’s 2017-2018 Backstage theatre class. He served as light operator for Pith! and stage manager for Here We Go, the final Lunch B.H.A.G.G. in the Black Hole Theatre Company’s 2017-2018 season. His writing includes many complete and incomplete works that he will get to… eventually; he has other stuff to do.

The Winter Hideout of the Wasp Queen by Larissa Hikel

Larissa is a freelance writer from Winnipeg, MB, who brings a native instinct to her writing, photography and acting. She explores the world from a personally complex place. High school dropout, drifter, used to shifting between identities as they serve her, she has the power to observe life from a wide range of vantage points which she brings to her art.

Here Together by Jonathan Mourant

Jonathan is a Winnipeg improviser, performer, and playwright. He performs regularly with his improv troupe Unexpected Results and serves as an executive and treasurer for the University of Winnipeg Improv and Common Crow Improv. Jonathan has written multiple plays and screenplays including the self-produced Here Together, first performed at the University of Winnipeg’s 2017 DIO Festival and now as part of the One Night Stand series!

Come take part in the future of Winnipeg theatre and hear what’s next from local, up-and-coming playwrights! The One Night Stand series returns Wednesday, April 25th at 7PM in Studio 2T05, Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony Street). For more info, check out the event page!

 

 

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New Faces and Newcomers

Through casting New Beginnings, we have had the amazing opportunity to meet and work with a whole new branch of emerging artists in Winnipeg! Representation is incredibly important – doing newcomer stories justice by doing our part to cast them as accurately as possible.

With this project, we’re introducing a number of new faces to the Sarasvàti Productions artistic team as well as welcoming back some familiar ones! Get to know this week’s featured New Beginnings artists below.

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Denisse Samaniego

Denisse Samaniego is currently a third-year Theatre and Education student at University of Winnipeg. She has been performing since she learned how to talk. This is her debut performance with Sarasvàti Productions as well as her first professional job as a performer. She is honored to be a part of such a wonderful and real piece and can’t wait for everyone to experience it.

Having come over from the Philippines at the age of three, Denisse can relate to her character Hazel’s story. “I’m an immigrant and my parents, like Hazel, started from nothing and worked hard to where they are now to provide a better life for me,” says Denisse. “I want to thank my parents for everything they have done because I literally wouldn’t be here in Canada doing what I love without them.”

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Reena Jolly

In addition to Hazel’s story, Denisse will also take part in depicting Ariana’s journey about a family of women escaping a dangerous situation to come to Canada. Also in Ariana’s story is Sarasvàti Productions veteran Reena Jolly. Reena is a fourth-year arts student at the University of Manitoba. She has been keeping herself very busy this year when it comes to theatre, having acted in two out of the three Black Hole Theatre Company mainstages: Nothing Sacred and Marat/Sade. Reena also appeared in our 2017 and 2018 IWW Cabaret of Monologues. Source material has been drawn from the monologue she performed in 2017, You Say Tomato, I Say Goodbye. It is the story of Irekanmi, a young high school student trying to balance assimilation into Canadian culture with her own heritage.

“I’m excited to bring the character of Irekanmi to life!” says Reena. “It’s so cool that they have transformed her into a complete, well-rounded character. Plus it’s an added perk that that some of the lines from the monologue are in the play, so I have fewer lines to memorize!”

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Bosun Amao

Joining Reena in her third piece for the show is Bosun Amao, performing a snapshot from his own life. Hailing from Nigeria, Bosun has over fifteen years of experience in financial advisory, operations and project management. Aside his professional experience, Bosun has served at different times as head of drama/theatre group as well as co-founder of a dance group between year 2002 and 2003 with four other friends. He has handled various theatre projects and also coordinated the production of a film.

For all our these incredible stories and more, you can catch New Beginnings running May 22nd – 27th at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony St). Don’t miss out – get your tickets today!

“New Beginnings”: Meet the Artists!

We’re so excited to start introducing the artists behind our upcoming production, New Beginnings! This incredible collaboration features a team of over thirty people to bring to life stories of resettlement from all over the world. This production has given us the chance to work with newcomers of all backgrounds to share their experiences with Winnipeg audiences.

We had the privilege of sharing the story of Rachel Awur Moijok Chol as part of our 2017 IWW Cabaret of Monologues. Lost Girls focuses on the missing girls of the South Sudan, pairing Rachel’s voice with movement performed and choreographed by Sydney Macfarlane.

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Sydney Macfarlane

“I am really looking forward to the challenge of bringing someone’s story to life through movement,” says Sydney. “It forces me to dig deep into expressions and put me in the shoes of the person I am portraying. Some of these stories are just so empowering and it makes me feel really happy to help someone’s story be known and give a visual to their voice.”

Dance has always been a huge part of Sydney’s life, allowing her to connect more with music and herself. Sydney started dancing at the age of 5 taking tap and ballet before branching off to jazz, contemporary, lyrical, modern, acrobatics and hip-hop throughout the years. Recently she has been trying to learn more about Latin ballroom styles to grow her dance vocabulary.

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Olaolu Fayokun

Performing for the first time with Sarasvàti Productions is Olaolu Fayokun. Originally hailing from Nigeria, Olaolu (Lou) now resides in Winnipeg. Olaolu established a love for the dramatic arts in high school and has since taken up studies in law and theatrical arts at the University of Manitoba, playing a prominent role in the university’s Black Hole Theatre Company. Most recently he appeared in their 2017-2018 season as Gregor in George F. Walker’s Nothing Sacred.

“I’m excited about the way in which this piece gives the audience numerous perspectives on immigration – how it affects not only the present, but future generations,” says Olaolu. “I personally connect with the unique stories depicting the journey people took to carve a safe and promising future for themselves.”

 

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Jonathan Chipalata

Jonathan Chipalata is a current student at Gordon Bell High School, where he received a Best Actor Award in 2016. He’s been acting since the second grade, appearing in musical theatre and performing for big crowds.  Born in the DRC, Jonathan immigrated to Canada with his mother, father, and siblings from South Africa. As part of the production’s acting ensemble, both he and Olaolu will be portraying Kamta’s story, which focuses on two generations of newcomers at the most Canadian of workplaces: Tim Horton’s.

 

You can catch both of these powerful stories – and many more – at the world premiere of New Beginnings May 22-27. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we feature more of the amazing artists involved in this production. For more info and to buy tickets, click here!

Our Next Community Collaboration Project!

A team of 9 artists collaborating, 9 performers, 9 dancers, musicians and dozens of community participants! It’s going to be one heck of a show. Over the past two years, we’ve been interviewing community members who are newcomers to Canada, working with numerous newcomer agencies and hearing the stories of dozens of individuals who have experienced resettlement. Now, we’ve compiled their stories into our final show of the 2017-2018 season, New Beginnings!

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“New Beginnings” Preview at FemFest 2017

The project incited passionate responses at the preview at FemFest 2017. This was the first step towards realizing this production on stage. Professional theatre artists teamed up with new arrivals in an exchange of stories, music, and dance. Inspired by the input we received, we’ve been workshopping the script since September and continuing to add stories from newcomers of all ages and backgrounds.

new beggining.jpgWe are excited to finally bring the collaboration to the stage later this spring! Witness the coming together of a diverse range of artists, community members, recent newcomers and established immigrants. Through the use of dance, music, visual art and storytelling, we will come together to explore the themes of displacement and resettlement.

Before the performance, you can also check out our lobby art installation featuring paintings, photography, and film by local refugee artists. We’ll also be offering an ASL-interpreted performance, translation services, and child-minding to make the show as accessible as possible. Following the performance, we’ll be hosting regular conversation circles to foster dialogue about the stories depicted and welcome people to offer their own stories in return.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we feature the amazing artists participating!

27907465_1675043125940329_5390131185813551337_o.jpgThis unique production will also run in the same space as One Trunk Theatre’s new show Boundary Avenue: a documentary-style play co-created by Liam Zarrillo, Andraea Sartison, and Caroline Wintoniw. The show looks at the town of Emerson and the influx of asylum seekers who have crossed into Manitoba over the past year. One Trunk Theatre is excited to share their research and to support those who lent their stories for the development of the play by donating back the proceeds from this production. There will be special opportunities to see both productions – check out Brown Paper Tickets for package deals!

You can catch the world premiere of New Beginnings May 22-27 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (at the University of Winnipeg). For more details and to purchase your tickets, click here!

Monologue Intensive with Sharon Bajer

Our workshop series is designed to help emerging artists hone their craft – whether by strengthening a particular skill, learning more about the business of being an artist, or by creating networking opportunities to learn how the pros became pros! Through our workshops, artists of all experience levels can continue developing their skillset on their way to becoming professionals.

The Monologue Intensive is one of two performance workshops we’ve hosted this season, the first being The Actor’s Voice with Tom Soares. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, every actor needs a good polished monologue to keep in their back pocket. Picking the right one can be tricky – but luckily, Sarasvàti Productions is here to help! The Monologue Intensive this spring will help you nail your next audition.

The monologue is often considered the bane of an actor’s existence, but is still necessary for auditions. This workshop will introduce the participants to some unique techniques for strengthening their monologue skills and deepening their understanding of them. Participants are asked to come to the workshop with 2 contrasting memorized monologues – they should be from plays, each less than 2 minutes long.

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Sharon Bajer

Facilitating the workshop is Sharon Bajer. Sharon is an actress, playwright, director, acting coach and Artistic Director of the newly formed Keep Theatre. She has taught acting workshops at Prairie Theatre Exchange, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, ACTRA Manitoba, The Winnipeg Film Group, The Academy of Acting, Tapestry New Opera (Toronto), Studio 58 (Vancouver), and the Acting Intensive at Rainbow Stage. Last season, she won the first Best Actress Award at The Winnipeg Theatre Awards.

 

The workshop is taking place Saturday, May 5th, from 1:00—3:30 PM at the Asper Centre for Theatre & Film at the U of W (400 Colony St). Registration is $30. Space is limited – sign up now to guarantee your spot!  You can contact Daphne at associate@sarasvati.ca or by phone at 204-586-2236. Deadline is April 14th!

Looking Back on IWW18

Another International Women’s Week has come and gone! We are so grateful to everyone who helped make our Cabaret of Monologues such a success: whether you supported our “Buy a Butterfly” campaign, hosted a performance, attended the show, or were a part of the Cabaret itself: thank you all so much! With your support, we are truly unstoppable.

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Our lovely wall of butterfly donations!

Here are some of the great reactions we’ve had to this year’s lineup. You can also check out our full list of video testimonials!

“This is the first time I’ve been to one of [Sarasvati’s] productions and I thought it was just awesome. Everything came together seamlessly from one piece to the next and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing each and every one of the performers. I thought it was very moving and representative of non-traditional female experiences. Thank you very much for producing such a wonderful event!” – Rebecca Cramer, Audience Member

Thank you Sarasvati Productions, Hope McIntyre, Rachel Smith, and Sandy for the opportunity to perform in tonight’s show. It was an amazing experience with amazing women!– Cynthia Fortlage, Writer/Performer, I Got 99 Problems (My Penis is Just One)

What a special day I will forever cherish and remember… Thank you to the amazing cast and crew! You are truly unstoppable! And a big THANK you to A.B. Norris – you are absolutely beautiful! Thank you for the opportunity to share this story. It wasn’t an easy journey on some days but your support and love made me a stronger person and better artist throughout this process.” – Monika Thurn Und Taxis, Performer, I’ve Never Been Very Good at Drawing Hearts (But I Keep Trying)

It was awesome. It’s so great to hear people go out on the stage and show us something that they’ve created and be vulnerable… I think that is so amazing and should be celebrated!– Pamela Wolk, Audience Member

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The cast getting ready backstage!

Thanks to Althea Cunningham for writing such a wonderful piece… Thanks to Sarasvati Productions for taking me on, for the umpteenth time. I look forward to more productions with y’all. Thanks for the company of wonderfully talented women I shared the stage with – may we work together again. Thanks to the crew for your level-headedness, your encouragement, and your guidance throughout the performances – and car rides.Lorraine James, Performer, Sweet an Nice

So honoured to have my work out there and being performed in other cities. What a life…what a life…– Althea Cunningham, Playwright, Sweet an Nice

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Anjali and Hope getting ready for their Global TV Interview

I am so full of all the wonderful ideas, writing and acting I’ve heard this afternoon! I just feel unstoppable. Sarasvati is so wonderful for providing the encouragement and the space for people to say all these things that would be left silent for so much longer. Thank you for giving us your voices- you’re wonderful!” – Beverly Grace, Audience Member

It was amazing – there were so many great performances and so much that was put into these productions. Women were putting their heart and soul into their performances to advance equality, diversity, and just be champions for women’s rights!” Rochelle Squires, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women

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Lounging in the green room! (Photo: Rachel Smith)

A special thank-you to our generous donors like the Manitoba Status of Women and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg as well as Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba for supplying our very first ASL Interpreters! Thanks to their support, we were able to provide access to those who would not otherwise have been able to attend.

Finally, thank you to all the playwrights and performers for sharing your talent with us. We could not have asked for a better team to represent the incredible diversity of female experiences. Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Cabaret of Monologues such a success!

Unstoppable Women in Theatre

Happy International Women’s Day! Since starting our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues in 2003, we’ve had the pleasure of showcasing over a hundred playwrights from all across Canada. Again in 2018 we’re taking to the stage to present a diverse range of stories from women of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and abilities.

We asked the performers in this year’s Cabaret a couple of questions to get to know them better. Check out their answers!

  1. How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Cynthia Fortlage, I Got 99 Problems, My Penis is Just One: A women, who happens to be Transgender.

Anjali Sandhu, Flight 182: My mother taught me not to talk to strangers, or take candy from them…but I’d be lying if I said I’d never taken candy from a stranger, honey.

Joanna Hawkins, I am Unstoppable: A proud Deaf woman who is strongly involved within the Deaf community, as well as an ambassador to hearing (non-deaf) individuals about deaf culture to break barriers between their worlds.

Lorraine James, Sweet an Nice: I’m an extroverted introvert, or an introverted extrovert.

Reena Jolly, Saviour Self: I would start by saying that I have a very interesting sense of style. I can go from looking homeless one day to looking like a lady the next day. I would also say that I am a learner and always want to be improving or learning more about things.

Kristy Janvier, ObScene: Quietly observing the unfolding events of life on Earth.

Cheryl Soluk, I am a Warrior: I am a strong advocate for things I believe in, I am mindful of things around me and great at reading people. I love puns & animals, especially cats, owls, dogs and cows. I am always told I should do comedy. I love belly laughs!

2. What are some of your favourite hobbies?

Monika Thurn Und Taxis, I’ve Never Been Very Good at Drawing Hearts (But I Keep Trying): I love hiking and exploring nature. My Instagram profile is filled with some great nature photography from Manitoba. I love to encourage people to get out into nature and explore all that it has to offer.

Anna Binder, Perfect Pie: In my free time I love to tell audio-visual stories through the colloquial medium of “AMV”. I’ve won a few video contests for this work, as well as a few costume contests at the same venues. I’m also involved with local medieval battle recreationist groups.

Ady Kay, Captain of My Ship: I do all sorts of things like performance, singing, dancing, clown, painting, poetry, etc. I love all of it and it sometimes gets frustrating deciding which one I need to prioritize.

Kristy: I’ve studied and taught yoga since 2009. Current hobbies are herbalism local to the Boreal Forest, astrology, and tarot.

3. What excites you about performing this piece?

Monika: The theme of the eclipse and the symbolism is a very close theme to my personal life. I believe deeply in the reflection of our nature in the sky and an eclipse is an important moment that asks us to be present with the darkness around us and shine our inner light.

Anjali: My piece is inspired by a major event in Canadian history that affected all Canadians, but especially the Indo-Canadian community. As an Indo-Canadian, I was able to see myself in the situation that the protagonist of my piece is in.

Lorraine: Through this piece, I’m gaining insight on what it must’ve been like for my parents to uproot their lives to come here, to realize that there are people out there who feel threatened by immigrants and yet have no idea about the real struggles.

Anna: Disabled characters are often written as static people that belong more on cardboard cut-outs than something three-dimensional and real. The piece in unashamed by honesty, and I find it especially refreshing because my character is allowed to exist as her own person.

Joanna: I was rejected from enrolling in performing arts at the University of Manitoba just because of my deafness. Years later, I landed on the stage as a 100 Decibels performer; therefore no one has stopped me from becoming an actress. Having a hearing loss doesn’t mean you need to give up something.

Ady: I am excited about this piece because not only does it speak to a matter that I care about very much, it also is beautifully described through poetry. And with poetry, so much is possible as a physical performer.

Reena: It is such a wonderful monologue it’s impossible not to be excited. I don’t feel like I’m acting during this piece because the character is so much like me: a bright, strong willed, young, girl of colour.

Cheryl: I lost my Mom in 2013. She was my best friend and biggest cheerleader. Even though she wasn’t physically with me anymore, I still spoke to her and shared my day with her, especially the good news.  Now when I think of her, it is like a warm hug, a feeling that fills my heart and I know that she is still my cheerleader who is always in my corner.

Cynthia: The piece is about my life so very connected to the story being told. I created this piece to share some insight as a transgender woman, and share the message of acceptance without understanding. I am a much stronger woman than I ever was as a man – I am unstoppable!

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You can catch all ten of these inspiring performers on Saturday, March 10th. Don’t miss out – get your tickets today!