Jane Burpee Profile

We are pleased to share this lovely profile of Jane Burpee, a regular performer with Sarasvàti Productions. Thank you to Andrea Geary for allowing us to publish it on our blog.

Burpee’s love of theatre helps others
By Andrea Geary

Jane Burpee as Mom in Magpie at FemFest 2011

Jane Burpee is one of those tireless people who successfully take on many roles; on the stage and in life. She is very proud of her newest role – that of grandmother to daughter Susie’s baby, Alice.

Burpee is public education coordinator with the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society. Working three and a half days a week, she offers workshops to provide information and insight into how people live with schizophrenia. She also offers consultation and runs Name That Feeling, a support group for children who have a family member with a mental illness.

She grew up in a rural area ofSomerset,England. After training as an occupational therapist, in 1967 Burpee saw an advertisement recruiting staff for the newly-openedWinnipegRehabilitationHospital. There were not many qualified occupational therapists inWinnipegat that time, so the hospital was looking for staff members in other countries.

“I never ever thought that I’d stay,” she said, after signing on for a one-year term. But she enjoyed the hospital’s informal work environment where all staff members’ opinions were valued, andManitoba’s natural beauty appealed to her as well.

Four years later she married Alan, then took time off work when her children David (Ace) and Susie were young. Ace is now long-time host ofWinnipeg’s Hot-103’s morning show and Susie is a well-known contemporary dancer and choreographer living inToronto.

The family moved to Cook’s Creek in 1975. “I grew up in the country inEngland, and Alan grew up in the country inNew Brunswick,” Burpee said. While the community has grown considerably over the years, she still enjoys living outside the city. She is involved in many community activities including serving on the board of theCooksCreekHeritageMuseum, directing theOakbankUnitedChurch’s children’s choir and volunteering at the Selkirk Support Centre andRobinson Place, a supported living facility. She was nominated for a 2011 YM/YWCA Women of Distinction award in the Education, Training and Mentoring category.

Burpee has appeared in musical theatre and dramatic productions over the past few decades. Her love of acting dates back to the 1960’s when she joined a community theatre group that performed eight plays a year. After her move toWinnipeg, she first joined a musical theatre company, then helped form A Bunch of Grapes in 1969. This group’s final performance is being held on Nov. 11 at2 p.m.in the Crescent/Fort Rouge United Church.

After taking acting classes in the 1980’s, her first performances were with theUniversityofManitoba’s Black Hole Theatre. She has performed in two Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre productions and recalls being very unsure of herself at her first MTC audition.

A regular performer at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival and with Winnipeg’s Sarasvàti Productions, Burpee recently took the role of the mother in Magpie during FemFest. On Oct. 28, she presented a monologue as Eleanor Roosevelt in the Women’s History Month Monologues.

She is able to combine her love of acting with her work at the Schizophrenia Society where she is a member of the Exploring Drama Company, an ensemble that gives people with mental illness the opportunity to display their creativity. “It’s a way that people can laugh; can get out of themselves.”

In addition to her involvement in the drama group, Burpee uses her dramatic skills while acting in a short one-woman play, One in Five, which she created. Designed to raise audiences’ awareness and understanding of the effects of living with a mental illness, she has performed acrossManitoba during the past six years. Money raised through the play is donated to the Schizophrenia Society.

“I do have a passion for theatre,” she said, adding that at 68, she is enjoying her work with the Schizophrenia Society and her part-time acting career.

Why An Endowment Fund Is Valuable

Our endowment fund was established because a very supportive donor wanted to provide a gift that would have a lasting effect. This was the catalyst to a dialogue with the Winnipeg Foundation and the beginning of our endowment with their agency. The Winnipeg Foundation has been an amazing support system ever since and is truly dedicated to all of the agencies for whom they hold endowments. They have recently revamped their information centre to showcase the organizations and you can now see our profile, upcoming events and photos on the endowment donor page –
Sarasvati Productions Endowmen Fund .

We encourage you to check the new donor page out, especially at this time. November 30th marks the deadline for a wonderful matching program funded through the Department of Canadian Heritage. All donations made by that date will be eligible for matching funds. So, if you are thinking of making a gift this would be a great time. Although the capital remains invested so that the fund is never depleted, the annual payout from investment income provides us with monies to support our annual programming. This year that will include supporting our world premiere of EDEN and our annual festival of plays by women for everyone, FemFest.

Adam Charbonneau and Nan Fewchuk in Magpie

Sarasvàti Productions presents a valuable opportunity to support both cultural and social initiatives.  We offer the combined reward of contributing to artistic achievement while working on behalf of current social and community issues. This also means that we can’t rely as heavily on box office revenue, due to our desire to make work accessible to the communities with whom we work. It is important to us to make sure that even those with limited disposable income have access to the arts and our work. For example at this year’s FemFest, we were able to offer complimentary tickets to residents from halfway houses to our powerful production of Magpie which deals with issues of rehabilitation of a parolee. The men who attended had never been to live theatre before and found it to be a very positive experience and sparked important discussions afterwards.

What is an endowment fund?
An endowment fund is where gifts are pooled and permanently invested as capital and only the income earned is used for charitable purposes.

Why contribute to Sarasvàti Productions’ endowment fund?
An endowment creates a stable form of future income.  A donation to the endowment fund assures the legacy of the donor is respected in perpetuity.  There are matching programs available from both the Winnipeg Foundation and the federal government with the intention of encouraging private donors to contribute and provide future funding to charities.  A donors gift may be doubled and provide a new source of future funding to the company.  Supporting Sarasvàti Productions’ endowment fund will allow us greater capacity to realize our artistic goals. 

The Winnipeg Foundation
The Winnipeg Foundation was established in 1921 as Canada’s first community foundation.  The Foundation’s policy is to position itself as a partner with other charitable organizations and agencies throughout the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba.  Where a charitable agency wishes to incorporate a long-term investment into its financial plan the Foundation’s governing policies permit the creation by the charitable agency of an Agency Fund with the Foundation.  The capital contributed by the particular agency is invested as part of the Foundation’s consolidated trust fund, a fund which is maintained and managed on behalf of the Foundation by professional investment managers.  The capital amount contributed by the charitable agency becomes a permanent endowment fund owned by the Foundation where the annual income benefits the charitable agency and is utilized at the discretion of the charitable agency.  


Welcome to our new Administrator

Hello hello!

I am so pleased to be Sarasvati’s new administrator! My name is Robyn Pooley, and I am a grad of the University of Winnipeg’s Acting Honours program as well as a local actor. This past summer I was lucky enough to participate in Canada’s National Voice Intensive in Vancouver before coming back to be part of the Winnipeg Fringe. I was fortunate enough to perform in FemFest 2010 and 2011 and I am excited to be part of Sarasvati in a new way 🙂

I am looking forward to all the inspiring events that Sarasvati has lined up this season. I hope to see you all throughout the year!

Feel free to email me at admin@sarasvati.ca


Women Through the Ages a Great Success

October was Women’s History Month and we were pleased to celebrate with “Women Through the Ages – In Monologue” in patnership with the Council of Women of Winnipeg. We had a great crowd at the Gas Station Arts Centre on October 28th and the mix of women’s stories showcased had a powerful impact. The work was inspiring and entertainting thanks to a great cast and strong writing by talented women playwrights. If you missed it stay tuned for details on our International Women’s Week Cabaret in March where some of the pieces may reappear!

Alissa Watson, Jane Burpee, Siigwan Ferland, Kim Zeglinski, Elena Anciro, Megan Andres and Nan Fewchuk

 We also marked Women’s History Month with a few random acts of theatre at the Millennium Library much to the surprise and delight of those visiting the library. It was great to bring the work to the public in this way and we hope to find other ways to introduce a wide array of people to our work.

Alissa Watson in “Mrs. Colin Inkster” at the Millennium Library

Artistic Director Honoured

Sarasvàti Productions is pleased to announce that Artistic Director Hope McIntyre was honoured at a special luncheon at the Manitoba Legislature on October 26th. As part of Women’s Hsitory Month the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Jennifer Howard, recognized women artists who make a difference. 

Renowned performance artist and Co-Executive Director of Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, Shawna Dempsey, gave a rousing speech that confronted both the myths around artists and the reality of their struggles. She also reminded us all that the arts are invaluable and women artists continue to allow us to understand the world in which we live.

It was a wonderful gift to have Hope recognized among such an amazing group of women – Cecilia Araneda, Teresa Burrows, Roewan Crowe, Leah Decter, Buffy Handel, Ingrid D. Johnson and Jaime Black. Hope has worked tirelessly to support women theatre artists through FemFest and other programming, as well as through her willingness to give her time to emerging artists.

How can you support women artists – buy their art, see their shows and generally support their work.

You can check out the full publication on all the women artists on-line – http://www.gov.mb.ca/msw/pdf_files/celebrate_women.pdf