New Year, Same Us

It is officially a new year AND a new decade! Happy New Year and welcome to 2020!

2019 has come and gone which means the second half of our 19/20 season is underway. We are so excited to tell you a little bit about what we have in store for all of you in the upcoming months…


IMG_5259International Women’s Week 2020 Cabaret of Monologues: Changes

Have you heard? Our annual Cabaret of Monologues is happening from March 2-8, 2020! We have been doing our best to update you on our performers and playwrights, if you’ve missed any of our past blogs, you can meet some of this year’s artists HERE and HERE.

This year we have monologues but also music, dance, mime, and comedy!

Stay tuned for our tour schedule, but in the meantime, tickets are now available for our public performance on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at 4pm and 8pm. Get your tickets HERE!


Workshops$25(1).jpg

As always, we have a ton of workshops in the works for you for 2020. Have you registered for our Movement for Actors Workshop with Ali Robson? This workshop will take place on January 19th, 2020 for $25. If you want more info, click HERE, if you want to register email liz@sarasvati.ca

It doesn’t end there! Coming soon, we will be hosting workshops on the following topics…

Accessibility in Theatre Panel, April 4th, 2020

Diversity Panel, February 16th, 2020

Fringe Production 101, May 16th, 2020

And more!


Jo MacDonald

Jo MacDonald

Reconciliation Through Theatre

We completed our Seven Visions workshops in 2019, now comes the process of creating one big final production! We are so excited to be working with Playwright Jo MacDonald and Director Tracey Nepinak to create our final performance piece for May 2020!

The performance, entitle Songide’ewin (Courage), will take place at The Forks and feature art created by youth during our workshops. We are so excited to share the voices of Winnipeg’s youth and tell a story of reconciliation in a time that gravely needs it.

More on the reconciliation project HERE!


As we move in to the fall of 2020, we will actually be launching our 20th season in Winnipeg!! Yep, we’ve been creating transformative theatre for two decades. This anniversary season will see the transition to a new Artistic Director, new community-building processes, and some of our usual offerings.


School Tour

DSC_0398Every second year we hit the road with an interactive performance, using Forum Theatre principles. It is an amazing way to engage youth in a discussion about how to be active participants in their community. This year’s touring show will be built from the material gathered as part of our Reconciliation Through Theatre project. Stay tuned for full details.


FemFest 2020opening

And of course, 2020 will play host to our 18th annual FemFest! 18 years of transformative feminist theatre AND counting! As always, the festival won’t happen until September, but the work starts now as we begin to read scripts and performance pieces and choose our line-up for the 2020 festival.


Thank you all for making 2019 such a fantastic year, here’s to 2020 and all of the exciting new theatre to come!


 

Work-Work-Work-Work-Workshops!

Workshops are essential to the artist. Experience and practice are EVERYTHING when it comes to the arts and what better way to gain experience and practice than by learning from a pro? Our 2019/20 workshop season begins tomorrow! We are working hard to find the facilitators for each workshop so you can get the most out of every single one. This year’s topics will range from what you need to know on the stage, to behind the stage and everything in-between.

Audrey-Dwyer-240x300Tomorrow, Audrey Dwyer will host a Coffee with a Pro session on playwriting with invited participants. Audrey Dwyer is a multi-disciplinary artist with over twenty years of experience working as an Actor, Director, Playwright, Teacher, Facilitator and Mentor. She is also a couple months in to her role as the Assistant Artistic Director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. Dwyer will share her insights and answer questions in a special intimate setting with emerging artists.

 

Another Coffee with a Pro session will be held a few weeks following on devised theatre andraea-sartison1with Andraea Sartison of One Trunk Theatre. Andraea Sartison is a theatre artist and event producer in Winnipeg. She is the founding Artistic Producer of One Trunk Theatre and is known for her creative performance concepts, interdisciplinary collaboration, devised theatre and the integration of technology into live performance. Invited participants will again have a chance to sit down and chat with Andraea on her work in devised theatre.

A huge thank you to Forth Café for hosting and supporting these unique meetings!


ali-robsonAs for on the stage, Ali Robson will be facilitating a movement workshop on January 19, 2020. Ali Robson is a dance artist who works in both dance and theatre and is curious about collaborating across disciplines and creating work with and for people of all ages. Ali is a collective member of Weather Parade Dance Theatre, is the Associate Artistic Director of Company Link and is a board member for Young Lungs Dance Exchange. Ali teaches movement at the University of Winnipeg and other classes for children and adults throughout Winnipeg. Participants will have the chance to learn about movement in theatre from Ali, while having the opportunity to practice her teachings in the space. If you’re interested in attending the workshop, please send an email expressing interest in the workshop with your full name and contact information to liz@sarasvati.ca.

 

Some other workshops we are exploring for the coming months are…

  • Drag performance
  • Production 101
  • Accessibility in the arts
  • Cultural diversity in theatre
  • A revised One Night Stand reading series

Stay tuned for more information on future workshops. Visit our website HERE for more details on the season!


 

Introducing Liz Whitbread

By Liz Whitbread


LizWhen I found out that I was going to be Sarasvàti Productions’ new Assistant Artistic Director, I experienced a wild rush of feelings. I felt overwhelmed! Delighted! Shocked! Sweaty! Above all, I felt EXCITED and TERRIFIED – two emotions that I’ve found, more often than not, go together in a surprisingly wonderful way.

The EXCITEMENT came first, of course. Sarasvàti is a company I’ve admired for years – they gave me some of my first professional acting gigs as an emerging artist. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of an organization that makes art that aligns with my values; to support other emerging artists; and to have a voice in the ongoing dialogue in our country about making our theatre communities safe, equitable and inclusive.

On a more selfish level, accepting the job at Sarasvàti meant that, after three years of living and working in Toronto, I would get to come home to Winnipeg. Toronto is a wild and wonderful city, and I was lucky to get some amazing creative opportunities there. However, after a sequence of family health scares in the spring, I started to re-examine my priorities. Was the work I was doing in Toronto fulfilling enough to justify keeping 2000 km between me and so many of my loved ones? More and more, I was starting to feel like it wasn’t.

And then I saw the Sarasvàti job posting. And I felt the way you feel when you mention to70818652_10220895114030391_2738919104428638208_n.jpg someone that you’re thinking about buying a new couch, and then all of a sudden all of your Instagram targeted ads are for couches. And so I applied, because it seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Of course, because of the imposter syndrome that I and so many of us suffer from, I didn’t actually believe I was going to GET the job. I thought I’d apply, maybe have a nice interview and get my foot back in the door of the Winnipeg theatre scene, in preparation for my eventual move back to the city – whenever that might be.

What I ABSOLUTELY didn’t expect was that I would get a call in August from Hope McIntyre and a few Board members offering me the job, and asking me to be back in Winnipeg for opening night of their 17th annual FemFest on September 14th – just over 3 weeks away.

Which is where the TERROR comes in. First of all, accepting the job meant that my moving-back-to-Winnipeg plan was being pushed up from ‘maybe sometime in the next 6-8 months’ to ‘RIGHT NOW!!’ I had to quit my job, sublet my apartment, figure out how to move across the country, find a place in Winnipeg – all on a very tight deadline.  Not only that, but by accepting this job I was agreeing to take on the responsibility of potentially running Sarasvàti as Artistic Director one day in the near future, as well as upholding and continuing the 20+ year legacy of a successful and lovingly maintained company. There was so much I didn’t know! I didn’t even KNOW how much I didn’t know! Were they making a huge mistake? Was I?

DSC_0431.JPGThe beautiful thing about Terror and Excitement working in tandem is that, in my experience, they don’t leave you much time or energy to overthink. You’re forced into action. And so I said YES, and figured it out.

I am WILDLY fortunate to have an incredible support system of family and friends who helped me every step of the way – offering me places to stay, helping me move, baking me cookies, generally being unbelievably generous.

And once I arrived in Winnipeg, and was tossed into the wonderful chaos that is a week-long theatre festival, the Sarasvàti staff, Board of Directors, FemFest production team and artists were all SO supportive and welcoming that Terror immediately began to take a backseat to Excitement – Excitement about the wonderful community I was entering into!

Now, a month in to my new job, the Terror is still there. It still pipes up when I’m given a71787010_10157774363937533_2602194601586458624_n new task, attend a Board meeting, or am faced with writing a big grant. But Excitement really runs the show now.  I still don’t know how much I don’t know – but luckily I have a whole support system filling in those gaps and helping me learn. I am so grateful to be part of the Sarasvàti team, and TERRIFIED and EXCITED for everything that’s coming next!


 

Workshop Your Craft

Preparations for this year’s workshop series is underway! Every year we host a collection of informative and useful workshops for artists, with the goal to cover a variety of topics in the arts.

We played host to two workshops during FemFest 2019, including a Pop Art Performance workshop and a playwriting masterclass. Both workshop sessions during the festival were full to capacity! We find the attendance of the workshops reflect the success and need of our workshops series. With the variety stretching, for example, from Pop Art to playwriting, there really is something for everyone.

Some favourites of the workshop series in the past include…

Hope McIntyre facilitates Auditioning 101Panels – Professionals share insights on crucial topics of discussion in the theatre industry. Many of our recent offerings have shifted to a roundtable structure with a focus on conversation, with everyone attending asking questions and sharing their own insights/experiences. Past discussion have included queering theatre, making a living in theatre and mental health in theatre.

One Night Stand – We have hosted these play readings for a few years now and heard excerpts from close to a hundred works. Local playwrights are invited to submit scripts and a team of actors read them before an audience for an honest response to the question – would you date this play.

Coffee with a Pro – Another fan favourite, is our intimate sessions that involve emerging artists and respective professionals in their industry. The artists and professionals are invited to sit down and talk shop over coffee. This could include actors, directors, stage managers, playwrights… essentially anyone in the industry that might have insightful wisdom and tips to share.

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Emerging Directors having Coffee with Ann Hodges

You can expect these past favourite formats to return with all new topics and facilitators. Roundtables will occur this season on the topics of accessibility and diversity. In addition, we will be offering a movement workshop for performers and a spring Producing 101 crash course for those looking towards the Fringe Festival. We are also revising the One Night Stand series to make it more helpful to playwrights.

Stay tuned for the full calendar of workshop events! In the meantime, we are happy to support The Keep Theatre’s workshop, Intro to Intimacy for the Stage and Film with Siobhan Richardson. To be held on October 24th from 1pm-5pm at The Keep Theatre (525 Wardlaw Avenue).

Siobahn RichardsonActors will learn specific techniques for accessing their vulnerability in a dramatic context, resulting in powerful chemistry between characters without compromising personal boundaries. Also, how to approach preparing for scenes of intimacy in rehearsal, consent, boundaries, your rights (including union rules), and psychological safety. This is not just kissing or sex scenes. The principles can include the intimacy between parents and children, between dear friends, and can also apply to scenes of sexual violence. All touching is consensual, and participants are always invited to sit out and watch, should they feel uncomfortable or triggered.

Those interested in the intimacy workshop are asked to email Sharon Bajer at thekeeptheatre@gmail.com with “Intimacy Workshop” in the subject line.

Another workshop our Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, is involved in is Brain Lint Theatre School’s Theatre Workout! For actors of all levels, flex your acting muscles with a 6-week theatre workout. The six weeks will cover Shakespeare, voice and speech skills, improv, sketch comedy and our own Hope will facilitate the audition prep session.

Sessions will run on Thursdays on October 17, 24, November 7, 21, 28, and December 5 from 7pm-9pm. Cost is $290.00, visit Brain Lint Theatre School to register!

To read more on past Sarasvàti workshops, visit our website under the “workshop” tag HERE!

Do What You Love/You’ll Never Work A Day

Coming up this weekend… “Making a Living in Theatre” a round-table discussion with five professionals at the ready to answer all and any questions you may have about making a living in the theatre industry! Plus, a chance to share your own experiences. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been in the industry for years, all are welcome!

Here is a sneak peek at who you can expect to see this Saturday, June 22nd at 2pm:


KATIE GERMAN Katie

Katie German is a Winnipeg based performer, director and educator. She received her training in Musical Theatre Performance at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton and studied classical voice through the University of Manitoba.

Katie is the owner and director of Junior Musical Theatre Company (JMTC), a pre-professional children’s musical theatre company which teaches the basics of singing, dancing and acting culminating in two performances yearly. Katie is also the Artistic Associate with Manitoba Theatre for Young People, a Voice Director and character voice for an upcoming cartoon due for release in January 2019, a theatre performer and a mother to a beautiful four-year-old that loves to sing and dance.


KAREN SCHELLENBERG

Karen Schellenberg is an instructor and production manager at the University of Manitoba. She oversees all technical aspects for productions with the Theatre Program while teaching its Technical Theatre students the joys of backstage work. She enjoys designing lights, sets, and costumes for some of its major productions, most recently set and lights for Love’s Labour’s Lost and costumes for Peer Gynt and Marat/Sade.

Karen trained at the U of M’s Black Hole Theatre Company before spending several years as a professional stage hand in Toronto and surrounding areas. After returning to Winnipeg to work at the university, Karen nurtured local contacts by catching theatre calls and working in summer festivals. Find her back at the Fringe this summer!


DONNA FLETCHERDonna Fletcher photo low res.

Donna Fletcher is an accomplished actor, singer, and concert performer with a wide range of national experience in theatre, musical theatre, and symphonic work.  Proud of her prairie roots, Donna received her early training in Winnipeg and earned a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Manitoba, a diploma in Music Theatre from The Banff Centre for the Arts, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from The University of Toronto and trained in Shakespeare text & voice at the Simon Fraser Voice Intensive.

As an actor, Donna has been acclaimed in principle roles from east to west with the Charlottetown Festival, Drayton Festival, Rainbow Stage, Theatre Calgary, Stage West Calgary, the National Arts Centre, Manitoba Opera, MTC, PTE, MTYP, WJT, the Belfry Theatre and Persephone Theatre.  She has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony; the Florida Orchestra, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and was featured on the CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera.

Donna will direct the first regional production of Phantom of the Opera at Opera on the Avalon in October 2019 and has the distinction of being the first Winnipeg born female to direct at Rainbow Stage. Her favourite role of all time is being mum to Amalia.


FRANCES KONCAN

Frances Koncan is an Anishinaabe-Slovenian writer, director, and independent theatre and film producer originally from Couchiching First Nation. She attended Fort Richmond Collegiate, where she studied french horn and skipped all her other classes. Later, she went to the University of Manitoba, where she said goodbye to her career as a professional musician for a lucrative degree in Psychology instead. When the economy was tragically struck by a recession, she saw a perfect opportunity to pursue what was to be the most financially responsible career path of all time, and flew off to New York City to study Playwriting at Brooklyn College! Since then, she has returned back to Winnipeg where she evenly divides her time between yachting, writing, and curating her social media presence. She has been nominated for several awards, but never wins any of them. She prints all her grant applications on pink, scented paper to give it that extra something special.

VAULT PROJECTS is an independent theatre collective with a focus on creating new theatrical work for our contemporary cultural climate, and re-envision classics through a decolonized, pop culture lens.


SIMON MIRON

Simon Miron is a writer, director, actor and arts educator based out of Winnipeg Manitoba. He has been teaching for over a decade and has participated in the development and creation of dozens of new works. He obtained his Masters from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, which was recently ranked in the Top 5 performing arts schools in the world. Recent simoncredits include: Writer: Freestyle Fantastique, Corner Of, Voices in my head. Director: Pippin (ViC/WST) The Last 48 (ArtLaunch), American Idiot, Young Frankenstein (WST), Lucky Stiff (MDA), Songs for a New World (WRP), 7Stories (TBTR). Actor: Little Shop of Horrors, South Pacific, Les Misérables, The Little Mermaid, The Producers (Rainbow), Selkrik Avenue, Bridges of Madison County (DryCold), Am I not King (zone41/Royal Canoe), Butcher, Le Père, Heyderabad (CM), House on Pooh Corner, James and The Giant Peach, Honk (MTYP) and Blithe Spirit (Echo Theatre), Sunday in the Park with George (Galleryworks). He is a founding member of the Village Conservatory for Music Theatre.


The discussion takes place this Saturday, June 22nd at 2PM! Follow the signs in the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film up to room 2T05 where we will have refreshments and friendly faces ready to answer questions, listen, talk, and share. The event is pay-what-you-choose and will run between 1.5-2 hours.

We hope to see you there!

To Infinity… And Beyond!

Forging a future for FemFest requires providing a space for the next generation of voices. To this end we have initiated an exciting new program. At this year’s FemFest, you will get to see the results of their development in progress! “The Launchpad Project” compiles a roster of emerging women and non-binary artists whose creative mediums range from a variety of disciplines: directors, dancers, performers, playwrights, technical crew, etc. This diverse and well rounded team will take part in intensive workshops over the summer including: movement work, vocal work, improvisation, devised theatre and scene-writing. Professionals working in Winnipeg’s theatre industry will lead these workshops and mentor the creative team.

The goal of this project is to give emerging artists a chance to learn, develop skills and network with industry professionals. How does it tie into FemFest? Along with all of the professional shows we put on at FemFest in September, The Launchpad will premiere a devised production connected to the FemFest theme just for YOU! The result of ongoing rehearsals over the summer and training alongside professionals! This is an exciting opportunity for both the artists and the spectators alike. The Launchpad ensemble will have the chance to display their hard work for you the audience, while spectators will have the chance to see a brand new work of theatre with a fresh cast and crew.

Facilitating and Coordinating the Launchpad are Victoria Hill and Lindsay Johnson. They are ecstatic to be helping a new group of performers break through and create their own piece for FemFest.

As for the ensemble members… here’s a list of who you can expect to see:

  • A.J. Hotomani
  • Anika Dowsett
  • Emma Welham
  • Jonathan Mourant
  • Karam Daoud
  • Leaf Pankratz
  • Makrenna Sterdan
  • Sara Groleau
  • Sarah Flynn
  • Bennette Villones, ASM

We can’t wait to see what this amazing team comes up with! We know it will be riveting!

Stay tuned for more details on this exciting project and the up-and-comers involved. Also, check out our just launched FemFest 2019 website!

Making A Living In Theatre

  • By Brooklyn Kilfoyle, Marketing and Community Outreach Assistant

Are you new to the world of theatre? Just graduated? Feeling a little lost? Or have you worked in the industry for years and are looking to share and hear common experiences? Every year, we hold a series of panels, workshops and discussions. Next on the docket, we are hosting a round table discussion all about, “Making a Living in Theatre.” In such a competitive and intense field of work, it can be hard to navigate the path towards finding success in the theatre industry. We want you to find success in your passion and that is the goal of our next professional development offering on June 22nd.

We have brought together professionals who not only work in the theatre industry, but who have found success in their respective fields. In the round-table, you will sit among professionals and newbies alike and discuss the theatre industry. You will have opportunities to ask your own questions and have them answered by people who have experienced exactly what you are working towards, all while sharing a common love of theatre.

As a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, I know I am constantly full of questions. “Where should I be looking for jobs?” “How do I network?” These questions can be daunting and scary and there have been many Brooklyn Kilfoyle, a twenty-two year old woman with green eyes and short dark hair wearing a pink turtle neck.times I wished there was someone to guide me. One of the most prominent questions others seem to ask me is, “is it even possible to make a living in theatre?” And of course it is! There are so many professional people right here in Winnipeg who live very successful lives working in theatre. Of course, it’s hard to remember that when you don’t personally know these people. Which is why this session is such a great opportunity for fresh graduates like me, it’s a starting point. A chance to meet people in the industry and get a sense of what it’s like to fully submerge yourself into it.

This discussion isn’t just for the newbies, like me. It’s for anyone trying to make a living in theatre! Whether you’re new to it, or been in the industry for years. We want this to be a safe and productive space where you can share your experiences, have others relate, ask your questions and have them answered. Or simply, just come and listen! We will have a panel of professionals signed on and ready to share.A group of men and women of various ages sitting in a circle, talking

The round table discussion will take place on June 22nd at The Asper Centre For Theatre and Film (400 Colony) at 2PM in room 2T05. Access to the discussion is on a “pay what you choose” donation basis, we ask that if you plan on attending the round table, you send an email to Sami at production@sarasvati.ca. Show up with your questions ready, sit, listen, learn and share your own experiences! We hope you can make it!

More details on who you can expect to see at the round table coming soon, so stay tuned!