Built by the community, for the community.

IMG_0027“The production was phenomenal from stem to stern.”

“It’s a wonderful reminder for all of us, that you have no idea what’s happening in other people’s lives.”

“This play is wonderful & beautiful.”

“I am for sure going to attend the full production!”

“One of the best plays that I have seen. A must see for everyone to help erase the stigma of mental illness.”

We have already learned a ton from our audience! We shared some laughs and you have helped us shed light on some dark moments. With everyone’s continual input, Breaking Through is feeling even more like a story built by the community. We have always wanted this play to become the mirror that reflects the lives of those affected by mental illness, hearing feedback from you is the best way to do this.

Which character resonates most for you? What scene should be cut? What should we definitely keep? What is missing? We have three readings left before we tackle major rewrites and we’re excited to collect as many responses as possible.

If you haven’t already (or heck, even if you already have!) catch one of the last few readings on May 26 to 28. It has changed with every showing.

And if you wanted to dive right in and participate in an even more interactive way than the average show-goer; join us at the Friday, May 27th show featuring special guests Red Threads Playback Theatre. They’ll be working with the audience to use their storytelling techniques to “playback” your responses.

If you want to learn more, check out the stories about the project:

Winnipeg theatre group breaks through mental health issues in new play – CBC News

Breaking Through, une pièce qui propose de voir la maladie mentale autrementRadio-Canada Information

A Sneak Peak of Sarasvati’s New Production – CTV News

Breaking through stigma – The Lance

 

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For more information, or to book tickets call (204) 586-2236 or e-mail at associate@sarasvati.ca.

We’ll make you laugh. We’ll make you cry.

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A mix of emotion and excitement has filled the air.

With the public readings of Breaking Through soon upon us it has been a whirlwind of enthusiastic rehearsals and encouraging community involvement.

In a few days we’ll bring five characters to life on stage. From a man living with schizophrenia to an aspiring actor’s harmful desire to lose weight, Breaking Through touches on all aspects of mental health. Pulling inspiration from the real-life stories of hundreds of individuals, we’ve created an intricate exploration of what it means to survive.  Breaking Through hopes to bust down barriers and shine a light at the end of the dreary tunnel.

With just a few days left to snag your tickets, we’ve compiled Top Six Reasons to see Breaking Through.

  1. Audiences get to be a part of the final production – After partnering with community groups and gathering hundreds of stories, the public readings are a chance for audiences to witness a dramatic re-telling of these stories and provide their own feedback. Whether it’s the way a scene is lit, the storyline of a particular character or your overall emotions afterwards, feedback will be considered for the final production of Breaking Through in May 2017.
  2. You’ll be a part of a global movement and help shine a much-needed light on mental health –Whether you are diagnosed or know someone who is, mental health affects us all. With other local and global initiatives out to spread the message of understanding, audiences can help keep mental health in the spotlight by continuing the conversation.
  3. You’ll take a walk in someone else’s shoes – As the age old saying goes, “you can’t understand a person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Breaking Through gives a unique look into the everyday lives of people living with mental illness and the often unsung heroes that are their family and friends.
  4. It can kick start your own healing – “I feel that way too!” That’s something you may blurt out at the end of the reading. Many mental health issues go untreated because people feel embarrassed or alone in the way they feel. These characters and their stories provide reassurance, offer up some peace to those in need and inspire others to seek help.
  5. It’s already a prize-winning project – Co-writer Hope McIntyre recently won the Winnipeg Foundation Fast Pitch grand prize to fund the youth adaptation of Breaking Through for a high school tour in the fall of 2016.
  6. It also includes song and dance! – It’s not all tears and fears. Weaving comedy, song and dance into the underlining story of struggle and overall triumph, Breaking Through is equally as exciting and entertaining as it is emotional.

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Breaking Through takes place May 22 to 28 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.  Get your tickets here or phone 204-586-2236.

Art as a Way Out

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There are so many amazing stories about the healing power of art! Sarasvàti Productions’ new play script Breaking Through was created with this in mind. Our artists worked with people with lived experience, caregivers, mental health organizations, and the general public to collect experiences of mental health. It made sense as we prepared for staged readings of the play, to also gather the perspectives of artists in our community who live with mental health issues. We’ve been excited to interview artists about their experience with mental health, the stigmas they have encountered and the unique role art plays in their lives.

Quinn Whitlaw is a Winnipeg-based visual artist. He works mainly with ink and pencils and has been been creating more than ever over the past four months during his residency at ArtBeat Studio. It was only this past winter that Quinn re-discovered his love of drawing while he was in the hospital in recovery and treatment for Major Depressive Disorder and anxiety.

“I think there’s a lot of negative stigma around mental health and addiction problems. They really, really go hand in hand for a lot of people” said Quinn. He remembers feeling depression and anxiety beginning in grade 8. “I wouldn’t want to tell my friends because I wouldn’t want them to know about it. I wouldn’t want them feeling bad for me.”

Trying to cope has lead him to addiction problems throughout the years.

“People will look at someone that has mental health issue but is using drugs to deal with it and they’ll just think ‘he’s a druggie’ and ‘he’s no good’, when in actuality that’s the person’s only way out–the only way out of what they’re feeling ” said Quinn.

Quinn remembers liking to draw in grade 10. He hadn’t done it much since then, but Quinn took it up again while he was in the hospital because he had time on his hands. One of the hospital workers told Quinn about ArtBreat Studio, and he thought it sounded like a great idea.

ArtBeat Studio is a recovery-oriented program that is mental health consumer-initiated, and peer directed. It’s a community-based studio that accommodates artists whose mental health, social connection, and income make it impracticable for them, individually, to acquire a work space where they might advance their artistic technique safely and securely. Over a six-month period, nine artists are supported and mentored in managing their own workplace, production, and marketing within the operating parameters of the studio. Quinn is currently one of nine artists doing their residency at ArtBeat Studio.

“I think being an artist has given me a way out”, said Quinn, “when I feel down or am having a tough time I know that if I just sit down and start drawing everything will take a step back and I can focus on what I’m doing for once.”

We’ve spoken to a number of artists who describe creating and performing as therapeutic. For Quinn, drawing helps with his anxiety and depression,” Doing art puts me in a place where I can sit back and relax for a bit, which I can’t normally do” said Quinn. “You get a good feeling when you finish a piece of art. It feels good to accomplish something.”

Quinn is preparing to showcase his work this summer in ArtBeat Studio’s public exhibition. Although Quinn is looking forward to exhibiting his work, he admits that the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety prevents him from being more open about it.

“I still don’t really talk to anyone about it except for my doctor”, said Quinn.  “It’s hard to come out and talk about it because you never know who’s going to understand and who’s going to tell you ‘just suck it up’”, said Quinn. “It’s hard because people don’t always understand, and at the same time you can’t expect them to know unless they’ve dealt with it themselves”, explained Quinn. “ I think the stigma is around being sad all the time, not having as much friends, not going out and living life like you should—which sometimes is true when you’re in such a down spot, but not all the time. There are little glimmers of light that come out once and a while, right?”

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To find out more about ArtBeat Studio and their residency program visit artbeatstudio.ca. To see Quinn Whitlaw’s work in the flesh, and take in the work of all resident artists check out the exhibition at ArtBeat Studio from July 21- July 30.

Get your tickets to the staged reading of Sarasvati’s Breaking Through today!
May 22 & 28 at 3pm
May 24-27 at 7 pm
Asper Centre for Theatre and Film

 

Meet the Cast of Characters

Breaking Through word collage

We began by listening.

We listened to the community, to caregivers, and to many people who are living with mental health issues. We gathered hundreds of stories and now, we have woven them into one great, big, beautiful inter-connected play.  This story is full of magic, songs (yes songs!!), hope, humour and truth. And we are thankful for the wonderful team of people who are going to help us tell it.

THE CAST

Ian Bastin will be reading for the prickly but charming, Joe. Suffering from schizophrenia  Joe has a long history with various treatments for mental illness. Joe is never short on stories to tell, but will anybody listen?

Kelsey Funk will be reading Molly. Molly has bipolar episodes which often manifest as religious fixations. As a single parent living in poverty, she is forced to rely heavily on her already over-stretched sister.

Spenser Payne will be reading Val, an aspiring actor who has bulimia. Val wears a mask to hide her reality. She struggles to defeat the voices inside her head that tell her she is not enough.

Rachel Smith will be reading Stef, who lives with OCD and anxiety. Stef’s mental health issues threaten to shut her in as she struggles to leave the house and maintain relationships—even with those who care for her the most.

Erica Wilson will be reading KoKo. KoKo is a young, Indigenous two-spirited person with attitude. Will her creativity and strength outshine the depression and suicidal tendencies brought on by a lifetime of trauma?

Akalu Meekis, Ashley Chartrand and Nan Fewchuck read for a wide range of characters—including caregivers, a psychiatrist, police officer, and spirit guide.

After the first read of the script of Breaking Through, the cast summed the story up with one word each. The above collage is the result. Let us know what you think after you hear the story!

Breaking Through
A staged reading by Hope McIntyre and Cairn Moore
In collaboration with the Mental Health Community

Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (at U of W, 400 Colony Street)
Tickets $15 Regular / $10 Students & Seniors
May 22 at 3pm
May 24-27 at 7pm
May 28 at 3pm

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