Women and Art for Social Change

I’m excited to be joining colleagues, Shawna Dempsey (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art) and Tricia Wasney (Winnipeg Arts Council), on Monday for a panel discussing women and art for social change hosted by the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council. So much of the work Sarasvati does is based on what we call tranformative theatre. Basically, theatre that deals with issues in our community and increases understanding or dialogue around these issues. We want our audience to walk out of our shows feeling inspired, challenged, having seen a new perspective and sometimes even moved to action.

As I prepare my presentation, it is rewarding to look back at the work we have done and the effect it has had. It reminds me why we keep doing it despite the many obstacles and challenges. Whether it is tackling bullying, racism or violence against women we know the work has a profound effect. Some of our most rewarding experiences have been performing outside of the actual theatre, taking our work out to the community has lead to important discoveries for both our artists and community audiences who may not have believed that the arts were for them.

Most recently we heard from young Fillipino women after performing the monologue Miss Orient(ed) by Nina Aquino and Nadine Villasin at our cabaret of monologues. Performer Stephanie Sy related to the character who was trying to be “pretty as a Canadian” by stripping away her black hair and dyeing it blonde. One audience member shared that it validated her experience as a young women trying multiple times to get rid of her own dark hair. It is empowering to share these stories, to let women know they are not alone in their struggles, and to help others understand the struggles of women from different cultural or economic backgrounds.

As we have been working on our latest project with criminalized women, we have been inspired by how theatre can allow women to let their walls down, explore a sense of play and develop confidence. Our main goal as we work towards creating a script based on our research and work with incarcerated women is to make clear the humanity of these women who are often painted as monsters and sensationalized in the media as women out of control. This journey began with us getting to know these women as we sat in a circle in correctional institutions with an array of women playing theatre games, discovering their sense of humour through impovisation and being surprised by their creativity and talent.

If you want to hear more, come check out the panel on Monday – http://sarasvati.ca/women-and-art-for-social-change/ .

-Hope McIntyre, Artistic Director

International Women’s Week is Upon Us

Elizabeth Stephensen in "Living Cosmo"

With this week’s celebrations of International Women’s Day, we mark 100 years of activities advocating for women. Tomorrow, March 8th, is the official day. We are pleased to be presenting a sampling of our monologues at Sage House. We will then do a few in Winkler on March 9th as part of Genesis House’s fundraiser.

We had a great dress rehearsal yesterday and the whole team is excited to share the work with our audiences on Saturday, March 12th. Reservations are coming in for both the 4pm and 8pm performances but we also invite you to purchase tickets at the door. Our box office will open an hour before show time at the theatre, Colin Jackson Studio (at Prairie Theatre Exchange, 3rd Floor Portage Place).

Here are some photos from yesterday’s dress rehearsal to give a flavour of the pieces! Thank you to our fabulous photographer Janet Shum.

Alissa Watson in "Hockey Mom"

Stephanie Sy in "Miss Orient(ed)"

Elena Anciro in "Standby"

Sarasvati Productions Latest Newsletter

We’ve had a busy winter and there are several exciting projecst in the works for us. Check out all our latest activities in our quarterly newsletter, including upcoming projects and a feature on rising star Jessy Ardern – Sarasvati March 2011 Newsletter .

If you don’t have time to read the full newsletter, please make note of our upcoming International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues on March 12th at 4pm and 8pm. Reservations are filling up quickly for the evening performance so be sure to call or reserve through out website, www.sarasvati.ca , before it’s too late!