Come share your experience, help work towards acceptance of mental illness, and learn about theatre with Sarasvàti!

“Mental illness stigma affects us all, especially as the statistics state that one in five Canadians has mental illness. That’s actually a large segment of the population when you think about it. Just look around the room. Count out five people and consider the fifth one as a person with mental illness. It’s not to say that that person has mental illness, but it’s a visual to be sure. And actually, did your view of that person change briefly based on my suggestion?

That stigma is there and, to speak bluntly, it sucks.

Once I became mentally ill, I even stigmatized myself.”

An important contributor to Sarasvàti Productions current community-based Mental Health Project is the Special Events Administrator for the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, Katrina Tinman. As a person of lived experience with mental health issues, and also as someone who grew up with a parent who had mental illness Katrina spoke to us about stigma at our season launch in August.

Her powerful speech highlighted how pervasive stigma is in our lives, and how it constructs walls between people—even the people we love.

“The reality is that stigma seeped into my life as a child and stole my mother from me in many ways and it wasn’t something she ever deserved to suffer…and this realization didn’t even hit me until recent years as I started to come to terms with my own mental illness and walk in her shoes in ways I never before considered.

In the past year, my father and I finally spoke where I admitted to him how I stigmatized my mother. He just simply said yes, you did. There were ways he did, too.

The reality is my mother was an exceptional woman. She even home schooled me through my kindergarten year because I couldn’t attend and, by the first grade, I was the top of my class. She always loved me dearly, was proud of me and helped me in all the ways she could. She had a marvelous sense of humor with a great laugh to go with it and was a kind person who always did her best to do the right thing.

Consider how stigma affects you, really, and what it steals from you. It steals the beauty of knowing someone for who they really are on the inside and separate from the mental illness in their life, effectively burying that person further into their mental illness.

It keeps most of those ‘one in five’ with mental illness in the shadows instead of in the light where there could be further support for those who are yet discovering their mental illness.”

Katrina advocated for public education, and initiatives like Sarasvati’s Mental Health Project, in order to help shift our perspectives on mental health issues and begin to see mental health as everyone’s health.

“If you consider the full societal calculation of mental health it’s everyone’s health at stake. We are all part of a greater whole. We all impact each other with all of who we are, even if it’s with the societal illness of stigma.”

We encourage everyone to work with us to breakdown this stigma. Come share your experience, help work towards acceptance of mental illness, and learn about theatre with Sarasvàti!

On November 28th we are facilitating a workshop that is open to anyone and everyone. Anyone with a story to tell, or who is interested in Mental Health issues are welcome to attend. There is no cost. The open workshop will take place from 1-4 pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony Street) and will use theatre games and exercises to explore the topic of stigma.

There is also a session for caregivers who have a family member or loved one that has experienced a mental illness on Saturday, Nov. 21st. Full details can be found at –

The project is funded by the Winnipeg Foundation and the Winnipeg Arts Council and is being undertaken in collaboration with Artists in Health Care, Red Threads Playback Theatre and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, as well as multiple community organizations such as the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society. Together through research, workshops, and discussion we are creating a play script that will culminate in presentations this spring.

Workin’ It Out Among Friends

Hi, I’m Angie St. Mars and I’m very excited to be the new associate producer at Sarasvati Productions. I’m involved in the theatre community in Winnipeg as a playwright, director, and actor. I’m looking forward to planning some awesome workshops this year so drop me a line at I would love to hear your ideas!

Dropping in on my very first Work It Night provided a blissful getaway from white-knuckle-watching the election coverage that evening. The room was filled with excitable energy; partially because of the imminent news, and partially because of the nerves that come with sharing new, unpolished work with other people.
I brought a scene that I had only just written the night before. Normally I re-work a scene many times before I let anyone else near it. Bringing something so fresh to Work It Night was a whole new approach for me. But after Monday night I don’t know what I’ve been so afraid of. Sharing with the group of artists in attendance was not so scary; it was actually a lot of fun.
It was good to hear the words I’d written read back to me before I’d become too attached to any of them. I feel like I expedited the process of getting that scene to where it needs to be. I received so much helpful feedback. I enjoyed being privy to other work in progress—like the last few pages of first draft novel.
I joke around about being too intimidated to bring something to an Open Door, or get up at an open mic—after all that’s what they’re for; testing out unpolished work and getting feedback. But there’s something scary about the performance aspect—the formality, the audience.
Work It Nights are a good place to try something out that you’re too afraid to try out at an open mic. They are relaxed. There is no stage to take. You are among a small group of artists of all sorts of mediums who are also testing out material. You can be as performative or as laid back as you like.

Plus, let’s get real. Artists don’t produce endings, deadlines do. Work It Night lit a fire under my butt and I’m grateful to be writing again. What a productive Monday! This season’s Work It Nights are as follows. Come and join us at 245 McDermot Avenue.
November 16
December 14
January 18
February 15
March 21
April 18

Work It Logo

Women’s Issues in this Election are Human Issues!

Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, the gender wage gap, immigration and refugee policy, and the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions are just some of the issues that greatly impact the lives of Canadians. Although many of these issues have not garnered the attention they merit this election, Canadian women have been speaking up and out to candidates about the kind of changes they want.
The This Election Matters to Women forum hosted last week by the Provincial Council of Women of Manitoba and the Council of Women of Winnipeg brought speakers, candidates, and the public together to discuss these issues and the initiatives they want their government to take.
Diane Redsky, Executive Director of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, spoke about Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and a National Strategy to address violence against women.
“If you can imagine what families go through when they’re looking for their loved ones and they’re not taken seriously by the police, they’re not taken seriously by anybody in our society, and they get little or no support to help them and to get the answers that they need. We have somehow created a disposable group of women in our society that it’s okay that anything happens to them. Shame on us for allowing that to happen”
Redsky advocated for an inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women that would be lead by Indigenous women and include full participation of political leaders and the police
“It will address the systems that continue to perpetuate creating the vulnerability of Indigenous women, but most importantly it will give voice to families, and hopefully the answers that they need.”
Redsky also advocated for a National Strategy to address violence against women.
Ariana Yaftali, community activist and co-founder of the Afghan-Canadian Women’s Organization spoke about Immigration and Refugee policy. She advocated expediting the process of bringing refugees into Canada.
“Being a refugee myself—though my experience was slightly different that the experience of the Syrians—being a refugee and staying in a refugee camp in a situation—you all have seen it in the media so I don’t have to elaborate about the running, and that it’s mostly women and children. So what is it that your government will do in order to expedite the process and bring these people as fast as possible instead of waiting for another year?”

Yaftali spoke about a desire for consistency and transparency in processing refugees and immigrants.

“Keeping in mind our security procedures . Do something so that our Canadian families will have their family and friends with them .”

Yaftali also advocated for reversing the cuts made to refugee interim healthcare.
Jen Zoratti, Winnipeg Free Press columnist spoke about women in leadership.
“The last Federal election in 2011 only 25% of those elected were women. Now, of the Manitoba candidates, 17 of them are women, so that’s down from 22 in 2011.”
She spoke about the barriers women face in their careers inside and outside of politics. Barriers like being primary caregivers while, gender-biased evaluations of women in the workplace, the mommy-track, access to childcare, and non-flexible work policies.
Zoratti stressed that it is important for girls to see women working in positions of power and making decisions and policy that affect us all.
“I think that if you can see it you can be it”, said Zoratti.
She questioned what parties plan to do in terms of encouraging girls to be leaders.
Allison Fenske, activist, lawyer, and professor at the University of Winnipeg spoke about the gender wage gap.
“According to the World Economic Forum, in a survey for wage equality for similar work, Canada ranks 27th out of 142 countries, with a ratio of women earning 72 cents on the dollar. “
Fenske spoke about narrowing and eliminating the gender wage gap as “a requirement of any strong economic plan in Canada”, explaining that gender wage equity cumulates to the health and success of our community, and would even boost our GDP.
Fenske advocated for re-defining what it means to be dedicated to your employer in a way that doesn’t penalize parents. She spoke about the need to adopt flexible work time and policies, and to increase our recognition of care work; a sector that is dominated by women and chronically under-valued.
“These wage gaps get characterized as a women’s issue, but in reality there are serious economic ramifications for not acting to address systemic, gender-based discrimination.”

You can watch the forum in its entirety here!
This Election Matters to Women livestream –
Cast your ballots on Election Day, Oct. 19th.

Highlights from “Up For Debate” Interviews with Party Leaders

Federal Parties’ Positions on Arts and Culture –
CTV Morning interview with Kelly-Ann Stevenson

Laugh and Support a Great Cause!

Last year's sold out show!

2013 sold out show!

Sometimes we all just need a good laugh! Our mandate at Sarasvàti is to tackle social change and this means our work is often dealing with important issues in our community. Although we try to do this in an entertaining and sometimes even humorous way, we know every once in a while it’s good to just enjoy each other’s company. So, we hope you will join us for our third annual Rumor’s Comedy Fundraiser on Friday, November 6th.

It’s exciting to watch talented female comics take the spotlight, from Tina Fey to Amy Poehler and of course Amy Schumer. The featured comedian for the Rumor’s fundraising night will be Rachel Feinstein who has appeared on Inside Amy Schumer, was in Trainwreck this summer, has appeared on Comedy Central and co-hosted The View; as well as multiple other credits including a long resume of voice work.

Rachel FeinsteinRachel Feinstein grew up outside Washington, D.C., as the daughter of a civil rights lawyer and a blues musician, which gave her a keen eye for the absurd and unjust. She developed her hilarious, character-driven style by opening for her father’s blues band as a kid and doing impressions of various loud and jarring relatives.

Want more info? Read this interview from when she was coming to Winnipeg in 2012 for the Tarbut Festival or check out some of her stand-up.

It’s a good time, it’s a great cause and we’d love for you to join us for a laugh!

Don’t forget that in order for proceeds to support Sarasvàti Productions tickets must be purchased from our office by October 30th. Give us a call at 204-586-2236 or send us an e-mail at to arrange for tickets.

Stories that Heal

25% of Manitobans age 10 and older received medical care for at least one mental illness in 2012/13. There were approximately 629 hospitalizations for self-injury and for the years 2008-2012 a suicide rate of less than one for every thousand Manitoba residents. In Winnipeg specifically the rate of mental illness at 25.8%. Mental health and wellness is a big issues and it touches us all.

Thanks to the Winnipeg Foundation we are doing amazing work in the community to breakdown stigma and increase awareness. We are excited to have already done inspiring sessions with an array of individuals who are affected by mental illness, as well as doing numerous individual interviews.

Our partners, Artists in Healthcare Manitoba and Red Threads Playback Theatre have been spearheading sessions out at Selkirk Mental Health Centre. The initial work has been amazing with a great level of participation, lots of fun and important stories being shared.

Engaging in art making has had a therapeutic benefit for all involved so far, including the artists!

Cairn Moore

Cairn Moore

Sarasvàti regular Cairn Moore is working on the project which aligns nicely with her most recent writing venture. Stigma was read at FemFest 2015 and had a powerful effect on audiences. In fact the University of Winnipeg Psychology Department felt it was an excellent vehicle for education and are hosting a special event to mark World Mental Health Day, which will include the reading of excerpts from the play and a discussion. Please feel free to attend this free event on Friday, October 9th from 12:30pm-2pm at Eckhardt-Grammatté Hall (University of Winnipeg, 3rd Floor Centennial Hall).

Stigma follows the story of first year University student Anna Almeida, as she is catapulted into the strange and terrifying world, known as schizophrenia. A diagnosis referred to by many, as a death sentence. Strange characters come to visit and refuse to go away. Soon, young Anna with a bright future, can no longer distinguish between what is real and what is not.