From Stories to Stage

Shannon Guile leading a "circus" scene

Jail Baby

Have you ever wondered how exactly we develop our community-based plays? We’ve produced many over the years, including Giving Voice, Jail Baby, Immigration Stories, Diss, Empty, and No Offense… All of these plays were compiled by our Artistic Director Hope McIntyre (and sometimes a writing partner) in collaboration with various organizations in the community. For the past year Hope & Cairn Moore have been working with multiple mental health organizations as part of our “Mental Health is Everyone’s Health” project.

 

VOICES - 2

Giving Voice

During the process of creation there has been: inspiring forums at the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, Rainbow Resource Centre for Youth, St. John’s High School, Resource Assistance for Youth, and the Aurora Family Therapy Centre’s Newcomer support group; the opportunity to observe sessions facilitated by Red Threads Playback Theatre at Selkirk Mental Health Centre; and multiple individual interviews. With enough material to create several plays the team works to honour each story. Then the draft is brought back to the community to make sure it is an accurate reflection.

 

Most recently to help refine the play we did a reading at the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society on February 22 and another on February 29 at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. We got a lot of great feedback – here’s what some of the participants and audience had to say:

“I found the reading the other day really fantastic. I loved the input from everyone and think the script is really raising great discussion points.”

“One of the main messages which I think is coming over, is the value of listening. Helping people feel that they are important because someone is taking the time to listen.”

“Love this: ‘I am not bipolar. I have bipolar’ more people need to realize this.”

“This is a thought-provoking play.”

“Looking forward to finished version.”

“I like the production!!!” – resident at Selkirk Mental Health Centre

 “I loved all of the characters and loved that the play incorporated stylistic elements, like the singing about pills, and the lights and sound effects of voices. I feel like a play on this subject wouldn’t reach those who aren’t affected by mental health without those special effects.”

“Working on this project was an absolutely enriching experience. It was so powerful to share my experiences and to see so many others share their stories as well. For me, hearing all these people speak really solidified how different all our experiences with mental health can be; and how important it is that these stories get told.” – Hailey Charney

 

Hope and Cairn are now busy rewriting for the last reading planned at the youth peer support group at Rainbow Resource Centre on April 11. Afterwards, it’s full steam ahead to prepare for the public staged readings May 22 to 28 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film, plus special previews and opportunities for community organizations! For more information, and to get tickets, click here or phone 204-586-2236.

 

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How to Celebrate World Theatre Day!

Did you know there’s a day dedicated to theatre? There is and it’s on March 27! Created by the International Theatre Institute (ITI) this day has been used to celebrate theatre since 1962. Keep reading to find out how you can celebrate!

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Anatoli Vassiliev

Each year multiple theatre companies and organizations release messages reflecting on theatre, the primary one being an international message from a selected theatre professional by ITI. This year’s message is from Russian director Anatoli Vassiliev who starts off by asking why we need theatre. He passes on many wise observations, but one of his replies to his question is this interesting thought: “Because if you take a look at all the public arts, you can immediately see that only theatre is giving us – a word from mouth to mouth…It does not need any intermediary to work among human beings.” Read his full message here!

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Sky Gilbert

Closer to home, the Playwright’s Guild of Canada (PGC) released a message from Canadian playwright & director Sky Gilbert who in his own way answers the question of why we need theatre by describing someone’s journey to step out of their comfort zone and go see a play. In the second person Gilbert describes deciding to leave the house and going to a play, but “When you get there, you realize it’s not very big. Only about 30 seats. How can it be a good play if there are only 30 people watching?”. Find out what happens by reading the full message here!

So, why do you need theatre? Write a tweet, Facebook post, or blog with your own message about theatre. Or just help spread the word by using the hashtag #WTDchat and share the messages of others. The PGC in association with the Professional Association of Canadian Theatre (PACT) and l’Association des théâtres francophones du Canada (ATFC) also suggests inviting a friend who doesn’t usually go to theatre to a play with you, making a donation to your favourite local theatre, asking about volunteer opportunities with theatres, or simply wishing people a happy World Theatre Day!

In addition to reading, writing, and sharing messages, you can also go see a play! There are two showings of Prairie Theatre Exchange’s play Marriage: A Demolition in Two Acts, one at 2pm and another at 7pm. This is the world premiere of local playwright Rick Chafe’s new play, which stars four local actors, and was directed by PTE’s Artistic Director Robert Metcalfe. The play follows the hilarious journey of two couples through the “emotional roller-coaster ride known as ‘renovating the kitchen’” – read more about it here and don’t miss out!

From all of us at Sarasvàti Productions, we wish you a very happy World Theatre Day!

 

Powerful Performances Provoke Dialogue

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Record-breaking attendance, 10 stories, 11 community performances and over 800 people affected. This year, we set out to do something different with our Cabaret of Monologues. We had chosen a challenging theme, Stolen Sisters, with the goal of inspiring change by creating a platform for women to share perspectives on gender-based violence. In order to include more perspectives we worked with many women who do not traditionally tell their stories in a theatre setting. We welcomed these women’s stories to the Cabaret in diverse forms; dance, spoken word, slam poetry, oral storytelling, and visual art. The result of these collaborative efforts was an incredibly powerful production.

“What a beautiful show. I don’t know how you do it again and again…was so moved by all of the pieces” said Cairn Moore, who was in the audience for Saturday’s matinee. Cairn is a playwright and director who’s play Shiksa is currently premiering at Winnipeg Jewish Theatre.

“The relevance of the topics, the passion of the performers and the emotional impact on the audience are transformational”, said  Ms. Terry Price, Department Head of Professional and French Language Services with the Manitoba Teachers’ Society. Ms. Price hosted performances of three pieces at the Canadian Teacher’s Federation Women’s Symposium.

Sharing the stage with non-traditional theatre performers was an exciting experience! So was performing the pieces throughout the community in non-theatre settings. Intimate, informal, and often ad hoc DIY performance spaces can pose challenges, but our performers rose to these challenges with exuberance! This gave us the chance to make this art accessible and to connect with so many non-theatre goers in our community.

“It was such an honour performing as part of the Sarasvati Transformative ‪Stolen Sisters‬ Cabaret of Monologues this evening at the Thunderbird House on ‪International Women’s Day‬”, said Shaneen Robinson, reporter at Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and performer in Stolen Sisters. “Thanks to all who came to show support in our fight to raise awareness and put a stop to ‪‎MMIW‬ in our country.”

We are especially thankful to have had the chance to perform this productions for staff and clientele of crisis and resource centres in and around Winnipeg.

“As a Manitoba women’s shelter director, I know that our staff hear many stories from women escaping abuse and violence – our work is very challenging. Today’s monologues were outstanding and I found the theme very relevant to the clients we support” said Pam Hadder, Executive Director at Agape House-Eastman Crisis Centre in Steinbach, Manitoba.

“The performers and the content of this year’s monologues were incredible! Each performer did an outstanding job of entertaining us and informing us of current social issues. Very dramatic, very thought provoking, and very important! Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to build awareness in our community”, said Anna Pazdzierski, the Executive Director of Nova House Inc.

Thank you to all of our supporters, volunteers, audience, community hosts, performers, writers, Board of Directors and funders for helping to make our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues – Stolen Sisters a huge success. It was a pleasure to work with so many amazing women.

Standing with our Stolen Sisters

How can you show your solidarity? This year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues is built around the theme of Stolen Sisters, and we do not take that lightly. We want our audiences at our performances on Saturday March 12 to not only hear these stories of gender-based violence, but to also expand their learning of other initiatives in our community. This year we received the help from practicum student Erin Schwartz to set up a variety of art installations and advocacy information for our audiences to interact with in the lobby, keep reading to find out what you’ll see!

 


Handmade felt faceless dolls from Nova House
: You may have seen them on our posters, but you’ll get to see them in person on March 12. These dolls represent the silencing of women, particularly those who are murdered and missing. They have been created by a variety of people, including those out of town sending them in to Nova House. Their target is to have a total of 1,200.

 

‘Mine is but a tear in a river’ photo exhibit by Tracey-Mae Chambers: Erin shared that “these photographs elicit a very visceral response” as they honour the 1,181 murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada. Experience it for yourself in our lobby or at the Edge Gallery and Urban Arts Centre where they are also being displayed. Tracey-Mae will also be doing an artist talk on Friday at this gallery, learn more here!

 

The red ribbon project to remember and honour Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: We will be demonstrating our support for this campaign that was started by Jennifer Flett, Pauline McGillivary, Janet Head and Rhonda Head from Opaskwayak Cree Nation by hanging red ribbons from the ramp railings that lead into the lobby at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Erin hopes that seeing this will inspire people to hang red ribbons in their communities as an act of remembrance and support.

 

We Care Quilt#WeCare Quilt: This quilt was created in collaboration with the #WeCare Campaign, The Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies, the Manitoba Crafts Museum, and the community. Erin was part of the team to coordinate this initiative last year that brought members of the community together to create “squares for the quilt to show their care for all who are missing and the need for immediate action.” To read more about this initiative and the team involved click here!

 

These projects all raise awareness, but we couldn’t stop there! There are three other components we’ve included to help keep the conversation going and to encourage everyone to take action. There will be a hands on writing response area for audience members to reflect, honour and show their care; Amnesty International Winnipeg will have a display with petitions and Stolen Sisters campaign materials; and there will be No More Stolen Sisters campaign material from the Canadian Federation of Students for people to take with them and place in their communities.

 

If you want to see all of this, ten powerful monologues, and the Buffalo Gals drumming group from the North End Women’s Centre, come down to the Asper Centre of Theatre and Film on Saturday March 12 at 4pm or 8pm. Tickets are available online here, by phone at 204-586-2236, or at the door and are only $10.

 

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A Week of Powerful Monologues

Bored of a traditional theatre setting, or can’t make it to our full line up of our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues on March 12? No worries, we’ve got you covered! We’ve already had an early start to our community performances of our Cabaret of Monologues, but we’re just warming up. Starting March 6 we are doing eight community performances in Winnipeg, Steinbach, and Selkirk, keep reading to find out more!

 

March 6 at 2pm in the Ukrainian Labour Temple: As a part of the Temple’s Speaker Series we will be performing Finding Freedom by Shamin Brown, Warrior by Helena Kelly, and Stolen Girls by Hope McIntyre. And you get to hear speakers Leah Gazan and Lubna Hussain discuss gender-based violence too. Admission is by donation (suggested $15). Find out more here!

 

March 7 at 12:30pm in the West Central Women’s Resource Centre: For this performance exclusively for women in the West Central community we’ll be presenting four monologues: Warrior by Helena Kelly, Lingua Franca by Frances Koncan, Chance by Melaina Sheldon, The Visitor by Alison McEvoy Murray. We’re thrilled to be presenting at this great organization, learn more about the work they do here!

 

Sam, Lorraine, Mallory and Kim at Nova House

Backstage with some of the IWW15 Cast!

March 8 at 7pm in Circle of Life Thunderbird House: In partnership with Manitoba Moon Voices Inc, Southern Chiefs Organization, and Thunderbird House we’ll be presenting Quiet by Mary Black, Finding Freedom by Shamin Brown, Good Enough by Lynne C. Martin, and Chance by Melaina Sheldon. Suggested donation is $10. Thunderbird House is a great resource and provider of insights into the culture and heritage of Winnipeg’s Aboriginal people, learn more about them here.

 

March 9 at 12:45pm in the UW Hive (north-east corner of Lockhart Hall): In partnership with the U of W Women-Trans Spectrum Centre we’ll be presenting Doing it for the Fame by Makrenna Sterdan and Quiet by Mary Black, and admission is free! Find more info here.

 

Chance rehearsal (7)

Kelsey Wavey rehearsing Chance

March 9 at 7:30pm in the Rainbow Resource Centre: We’re looking forward to having Mary Black perform her monologue Quiet for the peer support group at Rainbow Resource Centre. Haven’t heard of the Rainbow Resource Centre? Learn about their work here.

 

March 10 at 12pm in Agape House: We’re going to Steinbach with Chance by Melaina Sheldon, The Visitor by Alison McEvoy Murray, and Warrior by Helena Kelly. Admission is by donation, and attendees are encouraged to bring one or two non-perishable food items for Agape House. Find out more here.

 

IWW Selkirk

Nova House with some of the IWW14 cast (with tasty treats!)

March 10 at 7:30pm in Selkirk United Church: In partnership with Nova House join us for an evening of monologues and dessert! This year we’ll be presenting Chance by Melaina Sheldon, Warrior by Helena Kelly, Quiet by Mary Black, and She Said by Robyn Pooley. Admission is $15, and from past experience we can vouch for the tastiness of the dessert, so you won’t want to miss it! Find more information here.

 

March 11 at 9:40am in Miles Macdonell Collegiate: We love doing presentations at schools, so we’re happy to be bringing Warrior by Helena Kelly, Lingua Franca by Frances Koncan, Doing it for the Fame by Makrenna Sterdan and She Said by Robyn Pooley to the high school students of Miles Mac!

 

And then finally, your only opportunity to see all ten pieces are our two public performances of the full line up on March 12 at 4pm and 8pm. You can get your tickets online here, or by phoning us at 204-586-2236. Hope to see you there!