Meet the new team of Sarasvàti!

We are going through an exciting time of transition here at Sarasvàti, we are thrilled to announce our new trifecta that will lead the company beyond its first 20 years in Winnipeg! Our new team consists of Frances Koncan as Artistic Director, Wren Brian as Office Manager, and angelica schwartz as Marketing and Community Outreach Manager. Let’s get to know them better!

What are your pronouns?

Wren: She/They.

angelica: they/she.

Frances: She/They.

What is your sun sign?

Wren: Pisces.

angelica: Cancer.

Frances: Taurus.

Where were you born?

Wren: Whitehorse, Yukon – Territory of the Kwanlin Dün & Ta’an Kwäch’än.

angelica: “you were born on a very sunny day!!!!” – text from my mom, I was born on a sunny day on Treaty 1 Territory.

Frances: I was born in Fort Frances, Ontario on Treaty 3 territory. I like to spread the rumour that they named the town after me.

When did you know you wanted to work in theatre?

Wren: Around age 10 when I learned about the high school Music Arts Drama Program and wanted to be in it after seeing their shows

angelica: When I was nine years old, my sister forced me to watch the 2005 musical movie Phantom of the Opera with Gerard Butler, and I never looked back.

Frances: In 2007-2008, I saw the original Spring Awakening on Broadway a lot and would always sit onstage. The cast always made it so much fun to be there and being welcomed over and over again and getting to know everyone as artists and as people made me realize that things, I thought were impossible dreams were totally possible. When I graduated in 2010, I had no idea what to do with my life, so I turned to some of the actors in that show for advice to help me decide between going to law school or pursuing writing and theatre. So here I am. Because when Jonathan Groff tells you to do something, you do it.

What was the first play you ever saw?

Wren: Cinderella or Wizard of Oz…community theatre group at the Yukon Arts Centre!

angelica: The first stage show I ever saw was an international tour of Hairspray. In this production, the two actors who played Edna and Wilber broke character on stage and they took a whole ten minutes to recover from their laughter. When I came out of the theatre, I found my car was broken into and I started laughing in shock for about ten minutes. I remember thinking: wow, theatre is as unpredictable as life.

Frances: The first musical I ever saw was Grease and the second was CATS. I don’t remember what the first play I ever saw was, but the first memory I have was seeing Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in The Odd Couple, which I thought was brilliant at the time because I was an innocent naïve youth full of hope. It was probably not that good. I was just star-struck by Ferris Bueller.

What is your greatest fear?

Wren: Toss-up between being afraid of not being a good person and dying without having really lived/enjoyed life. Both have kept me up at night and exacerbated the latter fear.

angelica: Drowning. I had an intense near-death experience last summer and now anything to do with being submerged or traveling through water freaks me out. I should maybe learn how to swim…

Frances: It used to be being forgotten and not accomplishing anything with my life. I think that’s still the case, but now I’m honestly just too exhausted to be afraid anymore. Also, clowns.

Who is your favourite playwright?

Wren: Sarah Kane.

angelica: Young Jean Lee or Larry Tremblay.

Frances: It’s Tennessee Williams, I’m sorry, I wish it wasn’t a white guy, but it is.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has asked you to re-direct the CATS film with your dream cast – who do you cast as the Rum Tum Tugger?

Wren: You could not pay me enough to direct a musical film. Tried film and directing, neither are my forte nor bring me joy, just burnout.

angelica: I lasted 20 minutes in the 2019 movie before I fell asleep, which means I have a lot of opinions on the movie and contrary to popular belief, I think Billy Porter would make an excellent Rum Tum Tugger.

Frances: Okay I have thought a lot about this since December 2019 when I first experienced CATS the movie directed by Tom Hooper starring Jason Derulo as the Rum Tum Tugger. If I was asked to direct a reboot of CATS, I would firstly insist it should be a miniseries with each episode focusing on a specific cat. Secondly, I would go a little against type and cast Timothee Chalamet as the Rum Tum Tugger. While not the physically commanding presence one might expect from a Mr. Tum Tugger, I am confident he could pull it off.

What is one issue facing local theatre that you are most passionate about amplifying and improving?

Wren: Local creators, particularly emerging that are telling stories/perspectives that have not or rarely get seen.

angelica: Winnipeg theatre is extremely behind on conversations within race, accessibility, and gender, and I hope to work towards collaborative action within our community to move us into the future.

Frances: Western theatre was built on a foundation of racism and it’s time to do some renovations.

Drop your socials here:

Wren: Not good at social media, but I’m sort of active on Instagram: @wrenbrian – website is wrenbrian.com – I still enjoy emailing.

angelica: I deleted all social media except Instagram at the beginning of the pandemic but now working with Sarasvàti, I will be on the socials again soon. Stay tuned but for now HMU on insta: @aschwartz.jpg

Frances: Twitter: @franceskoncan | Tiktok: @franceskoncan | Insta: @franceskoncan | LinkedIn: lol | Snapchat: @franceskoncan | YouTube: @franceskoncan | Vine: RIP

Frances, Wren, and angelica will be spending the next few months together in our new office space at 70 Arthur St, in the Exchange District, dreaming of the future of Sarasavàti. Stay tuned for their exciting plans come 2021!

Note 10:55am: In retrospect, Frances believes her answers are too long but refuses to edit them.


Wren Brian (she/they) started her diverse career in Whitehorse, Yukon (territory of the Kwanlin Dün & Ta’an Kwäch’än) where she was born and raised. Currently based in Winnipeg on Treaty 1, Wren is a playwright as well as an arts administrator and producer. In 2014/15 she did a short contract as the Emerging Artist in Residence at Sarasvàti. After four years gaining experience at a variety of contract jobs in theatre and film, she was happy to come back as a part-time Administrator in January 2019. For more information on her playwriting visit wrenbrian.com

angelica schwartz (they/them) is a director and collective creator born on Treaty 1 Territory (Winnipeg, MB). schwartz has had the pleasure to collaborate with some exceptional companies including All Out Arts in NYC, Buddies in Bad Times, Electric Theatre Company, The Chop Theatre, SpiderWebShow, ITSAZOO, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, and more. After graduating the National Theatre School of Canada and Studio 58, schwartz has returned to Treaty 1 Territory with a hunger to reconnect and expand their community. In addition to schwartz’s work as an artist, they enjoy fine coffee, perusing TikTok, and attending a biweekly queer bookclub.

Frances Kocan (she/they) is a playwright, director and journalist of mixed Anishinaabe and Slovene descent hailing from Couchiching First Nation in Treaty 3 territory. After graduating with an MFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College, she returned to Winnipeg and has been active in the theatre scene ever since. You might know her writing from plays like Women of the Fur Trade (RMTC Warehouse, 2019/20 Season) and from articles in the Winnipeg Free Press. “I am enormously excited to be joining the Sarasvàti team and to continue to champion the work of under-represented artists, voices and stories through the transformative and radical possibilities of theatre,” said Frances Koncan.

Wren Brian (top left), angelica schwartz (top right), Frances Koncan (bottom left), Bernadette Peters (bottom right).

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