Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year again!

One of the great things about this end of the year reflection period is remembering all of the terrific moments and events of the 365 days. And what a year it’s been for Sarasvàti Productions! Some highlights from the past year:

–          The inaugural (and wildly successful and talked-about) So You Think You Can Act fundraiser;

–          The world premiere of three plays: Eden (in May 2012), Immigration Stories and Empty (at FemFest 2012);

–          FemFest 2012 was our highest attended FemFest ever;

–          Our high school tour of Diss travelled the most miles for the most students out of all our previous tours to date! Check out the highlight video!

With all of that positive energy to reflect upon, no wonder we are just as excited to look forward to what the future holds! You can find out more about the rest of our events on our website,  which we promise will be just as big, bright and brilliant as last year’s (if not, more)! And with that, let’s take a look at our resolutions for 2013!

Janet Taylor, President (Board of Directors):  The Board’s focus for the new year is to continue all of the progress we’ve been making as an organization. I resolve to continue to network on behalf of Sarasvàti Productions in order to meet our target of increasing committee and board membership. Since we know that there is so much going on in Winnipeg, I also resolve to explore establishing a year long timeline for fundraisers, donation and sponsorship campaigns. Let’s hope that a year from now we are able to have the support necessary to continue to expand our programming!

Hope McIntyre, Artistic Director: 2012 was a hectic year for us, but one we are very proud of due to the impact our work has had, particularly on youth. My resolution for 2013 is to offer new opportunities to artists through our new emerging artist in residence program. At a recent Dialogue on Theatre hosted by the Professional Association of Canadian Theatre there was a lot of talk of both cultivating and investing in the next generation. I want to see twice as many young people in our audience and invite new artists to sit around the table with us.

Tali Sitschkar, Marketing and Development Coordinator: Just taking a glance at our amazing accomplishments from this past year has reminded me about all of the amazing arts and culture events in the city! My resolution for 2013: to see at least 13 theatrical productions this year! There is no shortage of great, local talent and I certainly do not want to miss out! There are so many amazing events taking place in the New Year, it’s hard to say which one I am most looking forward to! One thing’s for sure: I am excited to continue my term with Sarasvàti Productions!

On behalf of all of us at Sarasvàti Productions, we wish you all the best in 2013!

Happy Holidays!

It is hard to believe that with the holiday season here, our busy fall and successful 2012 year is wrapping up! With our recent tour of Diss, our record audiences at FemFest 2012 and partnerships with several community organizations in the last year we feel very grateful for both the wonderful people who have worked with Sarasvàti but also for the opportunity to engage and connect with so many audiences.

We hope to be able to continue to make new connections in the coming year. So, although Channukah may have come and gone, there are still other important holidays approaching. Why not support transformative art while surprising your loved one with a gift they’ll love! Our online-fundraising campaign is in full effect! All funds raised in the campaign will go directly to our world premiere of the original, in-house production of Jail Baby (did we mention you get some sweet Sarasvàti swag when you donate?). As well, tickets are available for our fun fundraiser So You Think You Can Act – which is another great way to show your support and love for Sarasvàti Productions (this time, while being entertained by zany Winnipeg celebrities)! Give the gift of a great night out.

Thank you so much for all of the wonderful events we have had this past year! We have tons of events coming up in the New Year for you to enjoy. Here are just a few:

My Pregnant Brother; photo by Pam Price

Please note that our office will be closed on December 24-26 and December 31-January 1.

On behalf of the staff and Board of Sarasvàti Productions, we would like to wish you and yours the very best this holiday season!

“The Heart and Soul of a Nation”

Earlier this year, arts groups in Britain were stunned to find that their federal funding had been either cut completely or reduced drastically. Melissa Leong of the National Post points out that many Canadian arts organizations rely on federal funding for their operations, and there are worries and discussions at home about what programs get cut in a fragile economy. To summarize, the panelists surveyed in the article all believe that arts and culture are “the heart and soul of a nation,” and that funding should at least be partially restored. Chances are if you are reading this blog, you agree in the importance of arts funding.

But what does this mean for us? How does it relate to our Sarasvàti Productions and our programming?

Sarasvàti Productions partnered with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba three years ago to gather stories from incarcerated and recently released women. The resulting play was titled Jail Baby, and after much development and feedback, it is finally ready to make its world premiere in May 2013. This is an absolutely unique, one of a kind production. We know that Jail Baby will have a significant impact on the community from which the stories came, and we also hope that it creates positive dialogue in the mainstream as well.

So what can YOU do to help!?

Just a few days ago, we launched our online-fundraising campaign, with all funds raised going toward the Jail Baby project. Not only do we plan on having a traditional theatre run for the show, but we also want to bring the show into the communities from which the stories came. While we do have some funding, it is also imperative that we receive support from the community. We have a proud history of producing work that inspires positive social change, with each project receiving more support than the last. We are confident that you will see the powerful effect that Jail Baby can have.

What better time to pledge your support for Sarasvàti Productions and for Jail Baby than by contributing to our campaign this holiday season?  We have great prize incentives for each pledge level, but we know you will be giving for more than just ‘stuff.’ You understand the standing that comes with Jail Baby, and we hope that you will help us see it through. For more information, please visit http://sarasvati.ca/get-involved/support-jail-baby/

Changing Lives: Students and Teachers Respond to ‘Diss’

Yesterday was the last show of our tour of Diss and we have completed 28 shows to 4000+ students, teachers and community members! This tour has been a success because of the wealth of encouragement and support we have received thus far! We wanted to take the time to show you some of the ways Diss has affected students and teachers. Compiled here is only a sample of the responses we have received. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we have!

photo by Janet Shum   photo by Janet Shum

“Great performance – great cast!”

“The actors were highly engaging, and the creative team on the whole did a great job with the storytelling.  The forum theatre approach offered the students an opportunity to explore in depth the hard hitting issue of new immigrant gang involvement.   Those who took part in the interventions experienced on a personal level the struggles that surround the issue.  The ensuing discussion was authentic and informed in a way that would not have been possible without the forum theatre model.”

“[The students] said at first they thought it was going to be lame but they all really got into it.  The part where the mom kicked Sam out was the part that they all commented on.  I think they can all imagine (or have had) that type of fight with their parents and it really resonated with them.”

“The next day I talked some of the students to get some feedback, and I only heard positive praise. One student is sixteen and last year was wearing gang colors and had dropped out of school. Shortly after the play I approached this same student and asked him what he thought of the the play, and he responded with honesty, “It was good”. Another student the next day confessed that he had family members involved in the gang life and was more open to talking about his concerns with the school counsellor. I believe that this play might have been the turning point in possibly changing someone’s life.”

“It was funny, interactive and it made you want to pay attention.”

“Our reaction to the production was very positive and enthusiastic. Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, succeeds in having youth actors fully engage with the community’s youth, and thus creates positive, much needed discussion around the issues of youth and gangs. Interesting and productive discussion was very much alive within our very interactive and lively audience. Their openness to youth coincided nicely with play’s theme of newcomer youth and their struggles with integration and gangs. Overall a very positive, informative experience… it would be great to see what else Winnipeg’s art scene has to offer!”

“Showed a good message and it was super enjoyable to watch.”

“I just wanted to thank you again for helping bring DISS to our school yesterday.  We had a diverse mix of students in the audience and this helped create a productive, positive, and memorable dialogue.  Such a great play and a great cast that connected well to our high school kids. Loved it.  Just loved it.”

Thanks again to all of those who attended shows at their school, community groups or the free show at the Winnipeg Public Library! Thank you as well to ArtCity, Evolution AV, the Manitoba Arts Council, The Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Community Services Council Inc, the Richardson Foundation and the Winnipeg Foundation! Stay tuned for even more inspiring and energetic productions throughout our 2012-2013 theatre season! For more information on what we have to offer, visit www.sarasvati.ca!

Diss Evolution AV thanks

Sarasvàti Productions Challenges Local Celebrities!

We are so excited to be announcing the celebrity line-up for our 2nd Annual So You Think You Can Act fundraising event, which is taking place on February 20, 2013! Last year the evening was a great success and we are confident that this year will be even bigger with more hilarity and hijinks!

For the uninitiated, So You Think You Can Act pairs local celebrities with local theatre actors to perform short scenes for a panel of judges, who will provide comical commentary on the performances. The event is done in the style of reality television competition shows, which means it is ultimately up to the audience to decide who their favorite pair will be! This year’s theme is Family Ties, definitely lots of potential conflict and humour in scenes about family relationships!

And now, onto the celebrities!

Hosted by Lee White (CRUMBS)


– Mariam Bernstein (local actor and director)
– Ryan Miller (Hot Thespian Action)
– Robb Paterson (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Associate Director)

Celebrity participants:

–Jenna Khan (Breakfast Television)
– Jon Ljungberg (Comedian)
– Marcy Markusa (CBC Radio)
– Ron Paley (Ron Paley Big Band)
– Kerri Salki (102.3 Clear FM)
– Desiree Scott (Olympic bronze medalist)
– Jeff Stoughton (world champion curler)

Ron Paley Jenna KhanLee White
Ron Paley, Jenna Kahn and Lee White

Tickets are only $25 (which includes a wine reception) and all proceeds go to Sarasvàti Productions and our world premiere of Jail Baby, taking place from May 16-26, 2013. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks to learn more about our celebrities, their acting partners and the scenes they will perform! After last year’s great success we are expecting a sell-out, so buy your tickets early!