Workshops to the Rescue!

There are two things are inevitable for an Artist – grant writing and taxes.
Do you ever find yourself wondering…
-Which grants am I eligible for?
-Are there grants I should be applying for?
-How do I write a grant??
-Should I be filing my taxes as an Artist?
-What can and can’t I write off?
Do you then turn into an ostrich because it’s nice and quiet under the sand?

Writing grants and filing your taxes can be incredibly intimidating, but the benefits can most certainly outweigh the costs, so Sarasvàti has put together a workshop to help. It is just the first in this year’s series of workshops to support emerging artists!

On Sunday November 20th from 2pm-5pm come on down to the 4th floor classroom at ACI and we will get you started at the Grant Writing and Taxes for Artists Workshop.

Martine Friesen from Manitoba Arts Council and Dominic Lloyd from Winnipeg Arts Council will present on the grant programs each of their organizations offer, who is eligible and how you apply for them, particularly as Emerging Theatre Artist’s.  You will also have the opportunity to hear a presentation by an expert on filing taxes as an Artist. Presentations will be followed by ample time for Q&A with the experts.

Cost is $15. Registration deadline is Wednesday, Nov. 9th. Register with Angie at or by calling 204-586-2236.

And that’s not all! Check out what we have in store for the rest of our workshop season.

Auditioning for Theatre 101
This May, Sarasvàti Productions Artistic Director Hope McIntyre delivers a concise workshop on auditioning for theatre targeted to beginners.

Artistic Directors Audition Panel
This spring, Sarasvàti Productions will bring the Artistic Directors of some of the major theatres in Winnipeg together for an audition info panel.

Coffee with a Pro
This informal mentorship series continues with dates and Artists to be announced throughout the season. Send us an email if there’s an established Artist in your field that you would like to talk shop with.

The One Night Stand Series returns!
Sarasvàti Productions is pairing up with PTE and MAP to produce a series of readings of new works in progress. The series will begin in January with specific dates to be announced. Playwrights can submit excerpts from a work in progress to be read by actors in front of an audience at Prairie Theatre Exchange’s Colin Jackson Studio Theatre! It is being coordinated by Tatiana Carnevale. The first One Night Stand will take place on Tuesday February 2nd at PTE’s Colin Jackson Studio.
Stay tuned for more information and check out these photos from last year’s Workshop Series!

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Comedy for a Good Cause

Who doesn’t need to have good laugh AND fasten a good deed under their belt now that we are approaching the holiday season at breakneck speed?? On November 16th at the King’s Head Pub (120 King Street) Sarasvàti Productions will launch a brand new fundraiser; one that highlights many of the women in Winnipeg’s comedy scene. To do this, we are joining forces with comedian Dana Smith, organizer and host of the monthly Women’s Comedy Open Mic.

“The Women’s Comedy Open Mic has been even more rewarding than I anticipated.”, said host and organizer Dana Smith. “Not only is it a space where women feel comfortable trying stand-up for the first time, seasoned comedians feel comfortable trying out material that’s out of their comfort zone.”

Over the past year the number of women doing stand-up comedy in Winnipeg has increased significantly, thanks in part to local initiatives like Dana Smith’s monthly Women’s Comedy Night and Melanie Dahling’s Comedy Workshop for Women. This year, Sarasvàti Productions sought to throw a fundraising event that would align with our mandate to foster social change and promote equity on Canadian stages by teaming up with Dana Smith to organize the Women’s Comedy Night.

The Women’s Comedy Night will entertain audiences with a diverse line-up of local funny women who range stylistically from classic stand-up, to alt comedy, to storytelling. Dana Smith will host the Women’s Comedy Night and the evening will feature an array of comedians, both seasoned and emerging. Check our our amazing line-up!


Dana Smith runs the successful monthly Women’s Open Mic and is a member of the sketch group H.U.N.K.S. (5 STARS – Wpg Free Press). She has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, 2015-2016 Oddblock Comedy Fest, 2015-2016 Winnipeg Comedy Festival and the 2015 and 2016 IF Winnipeg Improv Festival.

130510mdhs0120Melanie Dahling has been on the Winnipeg comedy scene for six years. She has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Toronto’s SheDot Festival, Chantel Marostica’s EmpowHERment, and more. In addition to stand up she keeps busy writing for The Uniter and coming up with new projects. She is currently on post production for a short film produced with Winnipeg Film Group’s First Film Fund, writing sketch comedy, and researching a new show for the 2017 Fringe Festival.


Florence Spence is a stand-up comedian from York Factory Cree Nation.  Raised in Winnipeg and on the reserve she has been able to transition the hardships of growing up with 7 brothers, being a single parent of 3 and now a grandmother into comedy gold. With almost no Aboriginal women comics to look up to, Florence has broken down barriers across Manitoba with her raw and real material. Her witty observations and captivating stage presence set Florence Spence up to be your next favorite comedian.


Ashley Burdett has been doing improv for over 10 years and spent 5 glorious seasons with the improvised soap opera Soap Scum. She is very new to stand-up but has already appeared in the Oddblock Comedy Festival, The Winnipeg Comedy Festival and the Winnipeg Comedy Showcase. Her style has been described as “thoughtful, honest and wickedly silly.”


A lifelong theatre geek and comedy nerd, Meghan Riley first performed stand-up in 2012’s “Winnipeg’s Funniest Person With a Day Job,” where she was a finalist. A few months later she had her second child and disappeared…In June of 2015, Meghan returned to the stand-up circuit… with a look of desperation,  a delightful soccer mom haircut, and stories to share! Since then, Meghan is a regular at the open mics and has been featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, the EmpowHERment 3 showcase, and the Token diversity showcase.


Cathy Herbert is a writer from Winnipeg and is currently an unwilling slave of humanity’s corporate overlords. She spends most of her time pondering a peaceful solution to this problem and has so far come up with nothing.


Hailing from the North End of Winnipeg, Jessica Seburn ventured into stand-up comedy a year ago after facing personal tragedy. A newcomer to the performing arts; she quickly found her comedic voice. Jessica was featured in the EmpowHERment Show, The Winnipeg Comedy Showcase, Winnipeg Comedy Festival and most recently featured in Oddblock 2016. She recently produced the local show: “The Naked Truth, Comedy Truth or Dare.” Jessica wants to remind everyone that life is meaningless and bleak but hey, that’s comedy.


Autumn Crossman-Serb is a Muslim illustrator/comic artist who was born and raised in Winnipeg. Her passions are monster girls, scifi/fantasy, and romantic comedies. Stand-up is a new addition to her backlog of weird skills but still employs her love telling a story.


Frances Koncan is an Anishinaabe writer, director, and apparently stand-up comedian from Couchiching First Nation! Once the Principal French Horn in the National Youth Band of Canada, she peaked at a young age and has been desperate to achieve the success of her youth ever since. And now here we all are…


Angie St. Mars is the Associate Producer at Sarasvàti Productions and this is how she got this gig. She spends most of her time writing for the stage. Recently, she has been doing make-em-ups with Winnipeg-based sketch comedy groups Free Snacks and President Bear. She has been featured in the Winnipeg Improv Festival’s Sketch Ensemble Show, Token Diverse Comedy Showcase, and the Women’s Comedy Open Mic Winnipeg Comedy Fest Edition.

The Women’s Comedy Night will take place at the Kings Head Pub (120 King Street) on Wednesday, November 16th. Doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 8:30pm. The evening will include a 50/50 and a door prize including tickets to our next production and a package from Amsterdam Tea Room. Tickets are just $10 and you can get yours in advance to ensure a seat by calling 204-586-2236! If there are still tickets left, you can also get them at the door the night of the event.


Shattered Hits the Road!

img_20161012_140356“I wish they had this when I was in high school,” was a repeated response from audiences when Shattered previewed to a large crowd last Thursday evening at Graffiti Gallery. In preparation for the launch of Shattered into Manitoba schools and education centres the play was premiered to interested organizations and the public as a fundraiser for the tour. The response was overwhelming. Those in attendance responded adamantly that we should be taking Shattered to parents and to an even younger age group. We also received offers to advocate at schools who have not booked yet!

Shattered was great. It was fun but still got across a very important message”, said Griffin Jenkins, Youth Programs Coordinator at Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba (MDAM). “I personally related to some of the scenes almost as if it were my own life so it is amazing to see those parts of someone’s life shown to a large audience to understand how painful it really is.”

Griffin spoke to the audience before the play began alongside Bonnie Bricker, mental health advocate and Director of the Family Navigation Program at MDAM. “I thought your script and the actors were sincere”, said Bonnie, “[they] did not overact, and provided effective characterizations. I wish you every success in utilizing this creative tool to reach our most vulnerable population.”

This performance was the first opportunity for all-youth cast of Shattered to incorporate audience participation. Shattered is a forum theatre play, which means scenes are intentionally rife with conflict. The idea is that audience members will watch characters make choices, see the effects of those choices, and think about alternative choices that may lead to a more positive outcome.
“The use of forum theatre was done brilliantly”, said Griffin, “it gave the audience who may have never been in that situation [the chance to] speak about what they think should have been done. More importantly it gives people who have been in that situation the opportunity to share how they wished that scenario occurred”

Shattered hits the road today with their first school performance at Balmoral Hall. The Sarasvàti team has been hard at work on Shattered for the past six months and we can’t wait to work with these youth.


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“Thank you Sarasvati for the great work you do in the community …this play is very powerful & I am sure will be well received in the schools & make a difference in the lives of youth. it was inspiring to see such great interaction between actors & audience…everyone was so engaged. Left with a feeling of hope.” – Kay Stewart, Social Worker

Check out these articles to read more about Shattered! There are only a few dates left for schools to book!!


Shattered Launches Tonight!

Although it is targeted at youth, Shattered is a powerful production and a must see for everyone! At our recent open rehearsal, one viewer asked “where were you when I was in high school?”

The interactive style is what truly makes it unique and empowering. As the audience’s guide for the experience, GeNie Baffoe has a presence that even the toughest audiences—aka grade 7 to grade 12—will warm to. Confident, expressive, and welcoming, GeNie is the Joker (a term used for a facilitator in Forum Theatre). He will have lots of back-up with the talented group of young  actors in the cast. They hit the road next week to open up the discussion about mental health with students at dozens of Manitoba schools.

“If you disagree with what is happening in the scene, if you notice that a character could be making better choices I want you to clap and yell stop at which point you will rise from your seat, join us up on stage and take the place of one of these characters, are you ready?”, announces GeNie. The actors step into place and begin the scene. In this scene, a young man berates another young man at school after finding out that his mother has a mental illness. Many characters are bystanders, but nobody steps in.


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The scene freezes. GeNie identifies the clapper and invites her up on stage. GeNie asks, “What do you think this character could have done instead?”
And just like that youth are up on their feet, engaging in proactive solutions to stopping the stigma and providing support for those dealing with mental health. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.

Sarasvàti Productions set the course for this play for youth while working on their larger Mental Health Project. The project saw Sarasvàti’s team of artists facilitate workshops with the public and a number of community organizations in order to gather real Winnipegger’s experiences with mental health. At the urging of youth a piece targeted to high schools was created. Shattered is set in a high school and is performed entirely by a young cast.

Since we can’t bring our fans and supporters in to high schools we have partnered with Graffiti Gallery and Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba to offer a special public preview. Funds raised will help take Shattered to schools that would not otherwise be able to afford it. Join us tonight, October 6th, at Graffiti Gallery (109 Higgins Avenue). The show starts at 7pm and tickets are only $10, available at the door. The performance is open to everyone. This is your chance to watch the play and hear what youth in our city are dealing with in terms of mental health.

We hope you can join us for the Shattered Fundraiser preview. If you’d like to support but you’re unable to attend you can contact the office at 204-586-2236 or donate at our website  If you know of a school that should host a performance please contact Erin at


Take A Bow!

Spectacular! Fun! Powerful! Remarkable!

These are just a few of the words audiences have used to describe FemFest 2016: Transformation!


The Seduction Theory Cast, Playwright Sherry MacDonald and Director, Hope McIntyre

This year’s collection of amazing works included the world premiere of The Seduction Theory by Sherry MacDonald. The all-star cast – comprised of Hailley Rhoda, Hannah Wigglesworth, Grant Burr and Merri-Lou Paterson – brought to life the moving story of 15-year-old Cass as she tries to break out of a system that shames and silences young girls. Sherry received a slew of great feedback from a special talkback after the opening show, which she’ll take into her planned expansion of the play.

The Opening Night Cabaret presented an array of diverse local talent including improv master Robyn Slade, indigenous filmmaker Sonya Ballantyne, Alissa Watson and Spenser Payne of Red Nose Diaries and many more! A huge thank you to our Cabaret sponsors, Garbonzo’s University of Winnipeg AnX, Baked Expectations & Banville & Jones for providing our packed-house with delicious food, dessert and beverages!

Morro & Jasp Do Puberty gave FemFest goers side-splitting laughter with the hilarious take on puberty and periods! The clown duo also mentored a handful of local artists with their Impulse & Play: Discovering your Inner Clown workshop and The Real Thing Lecture presented in partnership with the University of Winnipeg Department of Theatre and Film.

The annual fan-favourite Bake-Off was a hit, with its mixture of dramatic, heartbreaking and comical pieces. This year’s five emerging playwrights stretched their writing chops with Jessy Ardern ultimately winning Audience Choice and the Janet Taylor Award! She’ll have a chance to have her winning scene, Kit & Joe, developed for FemFest 2017!

Featuring fantastic movement and vocal performances along with amazing on-stage chemistry, Mouthpiece received standing ovations for its beautiful piece of trauma, triumph and will power.

Shocking, raw and scarily honest, audiences were also moved to tears by the frank theatre company theatrical poem Miss Understood by Antonette Rea. FemFest’s first trans* artist charmed her audiences and brought forth an important message about gender equality to Winnipeg.

SHORTs from the Shortlist provided extra entertainment every night. New this year was the SHORTs Showcase, featuring all nine chosen pieces. The staged readings took place at Garbonzo’s University of Winnipeg AnX who donated their space for the private SHORTs party!

All and all, FemFest 2016 was a blast! With a line-up brimming with so much talent, and lovely engaging audiences every night, FemFest and Canadian Theatre keeps getting better and better every year! We’re exciting to see what FemFest 2017 will have in store – it is our 15th anniversary afterall! If you are an artist wanting to get involved check out the call for submissions.

Shorts Earn a Showcase!

SHORTS from the Shortlist at FemFest 2016
Review by Meg Crane


The FemFest Shorts team

If you happened to catch the Shorts, then you’re probably rearranging your schedule to see the full readings on Sept. 24 at Garbonzos.


Without props, complete memorization of lines or even a stage, the actors draw the audience into the stories and leaving everyone laughing and gasping throughout the 10 minute performances. In moments, they’re able to build up suspense and captivate the small classroom full of people.

A by donation show, you’ve got nothing to lose by checking it out. Expect your Saturday afternoon plans.

You can catch shorts as fillers for the remaining nights of FemFest. Solo Journeys by Kirsten Van Ritzen and Saudade by Frances Koncan will be read on September 23rd at 8:15pm, entry by donation; and September 24th at 8:15pm will feature The Living Library by Linda McCready. This year for the first time a Shorts Showcase is also being offered so audiences can see all nine pieces! To make it truly a celebration it will be hosted at Garbonzo’s Pizza Pub so you can order a drink and food to accompany the entertainment. The full showcase is $15 a ticket and takes place on September 24th at 3pm at Garbonzo’s in the U of W AnX. Click for details!

Miss Understood Leaves You Speechless

Miss Understood from the frank theatre company
Review by Meg Crane

miss-undertood-muscleWith stunning audio and visuals, Miss Understood is a powerful story told from a voice we so infrequently hear. Antonette Rea is a trans woman who comes to us from the streets of Vancouver where she worked the streets.

Along with two other performers, she owns the stage with a voice that demands to be heard and impressive high heels. This trio share a connection and closeness that can be felt from off-stage. Throwing a laugh or comforting touch as they bring Rea’s prose to life, it’s difficult at times to tell where the acting ends and the real emotions begin, or if the whole piece is infused with real, raw human emotions.

Her poetry translates so well to the stage, it feels like that’s where she’s meant to be. Rea stands in front of us, vulnerable, but with a tough exterior. She owns her story. There are few moments when we see underneath. We see the deep sadness and pain from the many horrific things society has done to her. There’s a moment when she first mentions a brutal assault at the hands of authorities that only the most callous person’s heart would not stop, then jumpstart again with an ache and desire to reach out and comfort her.

Rea could easily fill the hour with her trauma. Instead, she gently brings the audience up and down, peppering the performance with moments of light and humour. We get to see the saucy, adorable and fun side of this powerful woman.

This is a must-see show for everyone. Rea makes herself relatable and brings us into her world. She shows us how difficult it is to be a pre-op, trans woman selling sex to make it by.

Bring tissue and expect to be left without words.

They are two more chances to catch the show at FemFest – September 23 at 7pm and September 24 at 9pm. Click for details and tickets. Rea will also be doing a free reading from her poetry at Bison Books on September 24 at 1pm.