Accessibility On Stage and Off

The world is changing but the arts continue to stay alive. Everything has moved to the virtual world as folks social distance and work on flattening the curve. We want to do our part, but we also want to keep the arts alive! That’s why this Saturday, April 4th at 12pm, we will be hosting a discussion on Accessibility On Stage and Off with guest panelists and disability advocates via Zoom! More is being done to address accessibility in theatre and the arts in Winnipeg, but is it enough? How accessible are performances for audiences? How exclusionary are the spaces and processes we use in making theatre? Why is the inclusion of artists with disabilities essential to the continued development of the art form? Join Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba, Sarasvàti Productions and Sick + Twisted Theatre for a frank discussion with guest artists and Disability advocates.zoom-how-use-online-classes

Zoom is an online video chat platform. Participants can choose to join in the discussion and be seen and heard from the comfort of their own homes; or watch without any pressure to join in! The choice is yours. Debbie Patterson of Sick + Twisted Theatre will be moderating. Jenel Shaw representing our other partner, Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba, will be part of the panel will . Along with Debbie and Jenel, we have a selection of disability advocates who will be sharing their insights.


joannaHailing from Poland, a University of Manitoba Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate, Joanna Hawkins has always felt a strong connection to the arts. She is a skilled artist (drawing & painting), graphic designer and photographer but her real dream had always been with acting. Joanna has performed as a lead in a children’s show for young deaf children and has been involved in several films in Manitoba as a featured extra as well as two television commercials. Joanna has been professionally trained in mime, physical comedy and storytelling by the award winning Hot Thespian Action’s Shannon Guile. Recently Joanna performed as Mrs. Peachum in Sick + Twisted/AA Battery production’s “The Threepenny Opera”. Joanna’s aim is not only to entertain audiences with her incredibly crisp and clean physical illusions but to reach-out with the beauty of Deaf Culture and build bridges between the hearing and Deaf worlds. Joanna continues enjoying working in theatre/film industry as an actor, ASL translator and ASL coach.


Hailley Rhoda is a theatre artist focused on storytelling, puppeteering and reimagining _MG_0615traditional myths. She has a fringe company, Chronically Ch(ill) Productions, entering its third year of existence. She is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film department. Hailley has two invisible illnesses, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Classic) and Von Willebrand’s Disease. Quasi the tripod cat will likely be appearing in this live stream. She has yet to develop artistic passions, and mostly enjoys biting Hailley and chasing the laser pointer.


Hannah Foulger is a British Canadian theatre artist and writer from Cambridge, Ontario on the Haldimand Tract of Treaty 3 territory. She studied Theatre and Creative Writing at the University of Winnipeg, and is a winner of the Bertsinger award. Her theatre projects have appeared at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, the PTE Festival of New Works and Sick + Twisted Theatre’s Lame Is… Cabaret. Her creative writing has been featured in Prairie Fire Magazine, Matrix Magazine, Juice and the Disability Voices Anthology from Rebel Mountain Press. She lives in Winnipeg on Treaty One territory with a brain injury and epilepsy.


Also joining the panel is Diane Driedger, Ph.D. Diane Driedger is Assistant Professor in the Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Disability Studies at the University of Manitoba. She is a visual artist, poet and disability activist.


To join the panel, email info@sarasvati.ca to get the link! All you will need is a computer or cellphone so you can access the Zoom app or website and the meeting code. If you wish to interact live with the panelists you will also need a camera and microphone. If you can’t do a Zoom and prefer to just watch, you can also tune in via Facebook livestream. We hope to see you virtually on April 4th from 12pm-2pm!


 

World Theatre Day at Home

“Together, let’s transform the stage into a world of echoes, a world where laughter, pain, brutality, gentleness and complexity can all spring forth.” – Geneviève Pelletier, World Theatre Day Canadian Message

This year, we celebrate World Theatre Day from the comfort of our own homes. In these uncertain times it’s important to keep the arts alive, and to continue to live and fully experience every single day. We may no longer be able to gather in groups, but we can keep the spirit of Canadian theatre alive online!

26167280_1114217765381168_994219125870190171_nWorld Theatre Day was brought to life in 1961 by International Theatre Institute and occurs every year on March 27th by theatre communities around the world. This day is meant to celebrate the power of theatre as a bridge for international understanding and peace. Every year, this day brings together theatre lovers from around the globe to celebrate and appreciate the art.

pelletier-genevieve-04-1Manitoba’s very own Geneviève Pelletier, is the author of this year’s Canadian message. Geneviève is an Actor, Director and Artistic and Executive Director of Winnipeg’s Cercle Molière Theatre. You can check out the full message in French or English on Playwright’s Guild of Canada’s website [https://playwrightsguild.ca/world-theatre-day/] For more inspiration, this year’s international message is by Pakistan’s leading Playwright Shahid Nadeem [https://www.world-theatre-day.org/messageauthor.html]. “In South Asia, the artists touch with reverence the floor of the stage before stepping onto it, an ancient tradition when the spiritual and the cultural were intertwined. It is time to regain that symbiotic relationship between the artist and the audience, the past and the future.”

The Playwrights Guild of Canada is offering a “Play Reading Relay” to celebrate the day, x6lSUUM8_400x400“The show must go on…line.” 29 different playwrights will livestream 10-minute readings from their plays over the course of 7 hours! Running from 10am-5pm Central time. You can find the line-up of plays by clicking HERE and find the Zoom link by clicking HERE! This is an amazing way to bring folks together to celebrate theatre and a creative way to spend a good chunk of the day at home!

There are many other ways you can celebrate World Theatre Day this year. Read a play, write down future ideas, join in a livestream, watch a production online or simply discuss the world of theatre today with a friend. These are all amazing ways you can celebrate the day from home. You can read more about World Theatre Day and how you can celebrate on the World Theatre Day website, HERE.

pngguru.comIt’s important to keep our spirits lifted and theatre in motion. We hope you are all staying safe and healthy and wish everyone a Happy World Theatre Day! Don’t forget if you’re looking for more discussion on accessibility in theatre, we are hosting an online webinar/discussion through Zoom on accessibility on April 4th! Join in the conversation or simply watch and listen. Email info@sarasvati.ca to register and for full details.


 

Keeping the Arts Alive

In light of recent events surrounding the COVID-19 virus, we find ourselves with a myriad of questions and dilemmas. The arts industry has taken a huge hit and will continue to be effected during this time of social distancing. There are plenty of things you can do in order to help support local companies taking a hit.

The virus outbreak affects us all. Specifically in the theatre community, most companies in Canada have had to either reschedule, postpone or cancel productions for an unforeseen amount of time. This is a huge issue as it forces people out of work, from the performers on stage to the crew behind the scenes. So the question is, what can we do? How do we help? Some ways you can help the industry to stay afloat is through donations. For example, if you purchased tickets for a cancelled production, consider donating the refunded money back to the theatre. In need of childcare or freelance work? Consider hiring an arts industry worker for the time being. This will not only give them work, but assists with your own needs.

COVID-19 (Corona Virus)If you are an artist put out of work, consider reaching out to folks who may be in need of childcare during the school and daycare closures. Take this time to reflect on past work and create new work! Lots of arts companies have created online systems to host virtual workshops, book clubs, classes and more to keep you busy, occupied and creative. Some examples can be found HERE and HERE. Keeping up a routine is most important in not letting isolation get the best of you during this time of stress.

Spread kindness, understanding and positivity. In the face of a pandemic, anxieties and panic can be high. It is crucial to stay calm and do what you need to do in order to keep yourself and those around you positive and safe. Be sure to do your research and know the facts of the virus and how it has affected your area. Follow health regulatory body directives. Wash your hands regularly, avoid unnecessary social interaction and mass gatherings, strive for a balanced approach and if you are feeling ill seek medical attention and avoid contact with others. Find creative ways to fill any void knowing that we will soon come together again to connect through the arts.


Songide'ewin(3)At this time, we have not cancelled or postponed our May 2020 performance of Songide’ewin. It is a huge initiative and we will wait to see how all the amazing action to flatten the curve pans out, then make an informed decision when and if it becomes necessary. In the meantime, you can support the work by purchasing tickets for the performance at The Forks. You can read more about the project through our website HERE! If you’re interested in group bookings, please call (204) 586-2236 or email us at info@sarasvati.ca


As for our Accessibility On Stage and Off, our roundtable discussion with Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba and Sick + Twisted Theatre on April 4th, we are currently exploring ways to bring the discussion to you virtually! Stay tuned for updates and developments coming soon. Then tune in and join in the discussion.


 

Cabaret in Review

This year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues tour took us all around Winnipeg and surrounding cities/towns. Our travels were filled with inspiration, excitement and meaningful experiences. All eight of our pieces went out on the road to share the transformative stories of the women in this year’s line-up.

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Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie Performing at Sunshine House

Many women’s groups around the cities welcomed us into their spaces to share our monologues. North End Women’s Centre hosted an event and invited three of our performers to share their pieces with the staff and clientele. CTV Winnipeg made an appearance at North End Women’s Centre and interviewed our artists to cover International Women’s Week! Other amazing women’s groups we were happy to visit were Sage House and Women’s Health Clinic.

Wanda St. John's

waNda wilsoN performing at St. John’s Library

Our monologues were not limited to women’s organizations. We were happy to visit other community groups and venues. Sunshine House and Rainbow Resource Centre are two organizations with an open inclusivity mandate and advocacy for LGBTQ+ issues. Both welcomed our artists with open arms and open discussion. A disabilities class at The University of Winnipeg welcomed our Deaf performer, Joanna Hawkins in to perform her mime piece for students in a more intimate setting. St. John’s Library, a local staple in our North End Community, welcomed our musical performer waNda wilsoN for

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Lizzie Knowles performing at CMHR

a special and intimate performance. We were honoured to bring five of our monologues to The Canadian Museum for Human Rights on their First Friday’s free event night. Our pieces on the subject of “Change” were a perfect fit in an institution that promotes and supports human rights.

We love expanding beyond Winnipeg and our first road trip took us to Steinbach for a performance hosted by Agape House during an evening dedicated to raising funds for

Winkler

Genesis House, Winkler

this important shelter. On the final leg of our tour, we took one group of monologues to Winkler and another group to Altona! Both performances were for special Women’s Day events. Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie’s spoken word ‘Traumatic Resilience’ and waNda wilsoN’s music about not giving up and remembering those who have been lost to us, were the

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Performers and Staff in Altona

perfect bookends to a moving presentation by Wilma Derksen and Odia Reimer in benefit of Genesis House women’s shelter. Meanwhile in Altona our performers were invited to judge a “fancy hat” competition! It was the perfect way to celebrate International Women’s Day and the end of our tour.

These eleven community performances were in addition to the two full performances of all the pieces in a theatre setting on March 7th. Here we welcomed almost two hundred audience members to experience the work.

All-in-all, our International Women’s Week was a success! The subject of Changes is so relevant to today’s society and to being a woman in this day and age. It doesn’t end here, we need to continue to share the conversation and support women in the arts every day of the year. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to work with local performers and artists and help to showcase their art across the city and across the province. We can’t wait for next year!


 

Accessing Diverse Theatre

Accessibility and Diversity are two burning topics in society right now. Especially in the theatre community, we are trying more and more everyday to make our spaces more accessible and diverse. But what does that mean? What does it look like?

On February 16th, we were happy to host a panel on Diversity with Out From Under the 69098045_104007547644963_1207535746102067200_oRug Theatre Collective. Established in 2019, Out From Under The Rug Theatre Collective is focused on creating works by, for, and about people of colour. Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Out From Under The Rug intends to highlight the experiences of those whose voices often go unheard – or more often told to stop talking. As a collective, their goal is to emphasize a dedication to safe and accessible spaces. They would like to acknowledge our privilege of living, working, and creating on the traditional lands of The Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples and the Homeland of the Metis Nation. Visit them on Facebook HERE!

DSC_0019Panel discussions included topics such as, creating works of theatre with characters of colour where their ethnicity is not their entire personality. As well as how to create these characters and describe said characters when the playwright doesn’t share the same ethnicity. Panelists touched on the importance of representation in the arts and media, they specifically spoke on being a person of colour and how it feels to see yourself represented on the screen and on the stage. Out From Under the Rug’s member Sophie Smith-Dostmohamed described herself in childhood only ever wanting to watch the Disney film “Aladdin” as it was the only place she saw characters that looked like her, further emphasizing the need for representation.

During this panel, we were able to open up a conversation in a safe space about diversity in the theatre industry, where it’s headed and how we can improve. This panel was open to all and free of charge in a physically accessible building (wheelchair accessible, gender neutral restrooms, ASL interpretation). To further the conversation on diversifying theatre and allowing for more accessibility; not only in audiences but also for performers, we will be hosting a roundtable on accessibility on April 4th!

Accessibility On Stage and Off will occur on April 4th, 2020 from 2pm-4pm at the Cargill Boardroom at RMTC. Sarasvàti Productions, Arts AccessAbility Network and Sick + Twisted theatre will host a discussion on the subject of accessibility in theatre. This discussion will be lead by a panel of disability advocates. The discussion hopes to open a conversation on accessibility, what it means to be accessible and how we can improve on what theatres in Winnipeg are doing to make their spaces more accessible. We plan to discuss the importance beyond just the audience’s accessibility and touch on accessibility for performers.

Stay tuned for more on the Accessibility workshop coming soon! For more information on upcoming workshops visit our website HERE.


 

The Monologues on Tour

Our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: Changes is not a onetime event. Every year, we take our cabaret on the road to various venues and organizations to spread the word of International Women’s Week across Manitoba. Visiting various locations during International Women’s Week not only helps to spread the word, but also makes the Cabaret more accessible to those who would otherwise not be able to make it out to the public performances.

This year, we are so excited to be hosted by eleven different venues in Manitoba! Including…

  • AGAPE HOUSE (Steinbach)
  • ALTONA UNITED CHURCH (Altona)
  • CANADIAN MUSEUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
  • GENESIS HOUSE (Winkler)
  • NORTH END WOMEN’S CENTRE
  • RAINBOW RESOURCE CENTRE
  • SAGE HOUSE
  • JOHN’S LIBRARY
  • SUNSHINE HOUSE
  • THE UNIVERSITY OF WINNIPEG
  • WOMEN’S HEALTH CLINIC

Some locations are even offering a full event in celebration of International Women’s Day as well as featuring the monologues.

Agape posterAgape House will be hosting an evening of events featuring wine, apps, and entertainment… all in the name of empowerment! Agape House’s Women, Wine and Theatre Event is Friday, March 6th from 7-9 at the Pat Porter Active Living Centre. Tickets are $20 and are selling fast! Purchase tickets online HERE, or E-transfer $20.00 to admin@agapehouse.ca with password IWD2020.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be hosting their “free night” on March 6th. Access the museum for free, explore the exhibits and at 6:30pm, five of our eight Cabaret of Monologues performances will take place. 85 Israel Asper Way, Winnipeg, MB.Altona Poster-page-001

Altona United Church will have a special Women’s Day Church Tea on March 8th at 2pm. Our monologues will be featured as well a live music, prizes for best dress and refreshments! Tickets are $10 available at the door.

st. john'sSt. John’s Library will also be hosting a special thirty-minute event with waNda wilsoN’s musical entertainment! Free to attend on March 5th at 6:30pm, 500 Salter Street, Winnipeg, MB.

Of course, there is also our two public performances featuring all 8 of the monologues AND a special performance by drag performer Petty Davis. On March 7th at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony Street) join us either for the 4pm performance or the 8pm*.

*8pm performance will have ASL interpretation.Sarasvàti Productions

The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film is wheelchair accessible with gender neutral restrooms. We hope to see you on March 7th for one of the two public performances, or along the tour at one or more of these amazing venues! Purchase your tickets in advance, HERE!


 

Cabaret of Sneak Peeks

Movies get trailers, so why not have a one for theatre too? Below are some sneak peeks at this year’s line-up for International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: Changes and how each piece correlates to this year’s theme.


“Today, we’re learning about Air Pollution. Can I hear everyone say “Air Pollution”?…Good job everyone! Now, air pollution is so yucky. Yes, it’s yucky. What happens if you breathe too much air pollution? Is breathing in air pollution good or bad?”

Makrenna SterdanMasks by Makrenna Sterdan is a satirical monologue that follows Mrs. Jones as she teaches an assembly of youngsters how to properly put on 5U3A3824-Edit-Edittheir face masks to protect themselves from polluted air. This monologue focuses on the changes within the world and the consequences that we will soon face if something doesn’t, yet again, change. Masks will be performed by Renée Hill in this year’s cabaret.


Content warning: Assault

“I need to get into my apartment but what if he’s in the elevator again? And I mean I can’t take the stairs… the stairs are out of the question, anyone, anything could be in the stairwell. Anything.”

Ping by Larissa Hikel tells a story that most women in today’s society can relate to. Late TaesiaScratch headshotat night, on her way home from work, Jessamyn is attacked in the elevator of her apartment building by an unknown man. Although she manages to escape the initial attack, she now has to deal with the trauma on a daily basis. Ping will be performed by Taesia Scratch.


“I can’t even imagine. Not having the choice? I keep beating myself up, saying I’m selfish, second guessing my decision, but that’s just it, it’s MY Decision! It’s my body and right now I’m sick of feeling sick!”

OFFICIAL HEADSHOTThe A Word by Brooklyn Alice Lee follows a young woman as she makes the decision to terminate her pregnancy. There is a lot of debate today towards Lizzie Knowlespro-choice and pro-life. Society is changing in their opinions and as change is not always linear, the debate continues with many differing opinions. The A Word will be performed by Lizzie Knowles.


“Dear Baby, she said. Dear Baby. I wish I could reach you, she said, from the other side of the…glass. If I wasn’t over here, and you weren’t over there. With this…is it glass? Or fog? Fog maybe. Between us.”

Yearning/Distance by Beth Lanigan, a new mother struggling with postpartum Saira Rahmandepression. Having a new baby is one of the biggest changes a person can go through. This monologue uses a unique and abstract narrative to try and voice how it might feel for a new mother experiencing postpartum depression. Yearning/Distance will be performed by Saira Rahman.


“To change your thoughts, this is what it means in Cree. Kweskenta, not so easy to do when you’ve been broken, hurt so many times in so many ways or sometimes even when you have a good day.”

SONY DSCKweskenta written and performed by waNda wilsoN. As a storyteller and musician, waNda uses her skills to share her own personal stories. You may recall waNda from last year’s cabaret where she performed Bare Bones. This year, she explores the meaning and reasoning behind changing your thoughts while performing two of her songs.


“So what happened was, in the dark of my new apartment / a brief period of time when I lived in a house called The Marijuana Mansion with two professional musicians, I was alone with my thoughts. I often didn’t sleep at all unless I had a couple of glasses of wine or was watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.”

Oversharer performed and written by Kristen Einarson is a stand-2020_KristenEinarson4436up comedy piece. Kristen brings her wit and charm to the stage by sharing her intimate story of change within her own life all while giving the audience a good giggle.


“In a world that tells you that if you just worked hard enough / Was smart enough / Was cool enough / There may be a chance that you deserved a privilege key / To unlock the box of ignorance.”

Sadie

Traumatic Resilience by Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie is a spoken word poetry piece that will also be performed by Sadie. They will share their story of resilience and overcoming adversity and change through this spoken-word piece.

 


Joanna Hawkins will also be performing a piece titled, The Bold, Beautiful and Deaf. joannaUnfortunately, we are unable to provide a sneak peek as Joanna’s piece will all be mimed!

 


For some more on this year’s monologues and to purchase your tickets now, visit our website HERE.  Check out our interview with performers HERE on our Facebook page!