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!

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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
  • Anaka Sandhu
  • Anika Dowsett
  • Emma Welham
  • Jonathan Mourant
  • Karam Daoud
  • Leaf Pankratz
  • Makrenna Sterdan
  • Sara Groleau
  • Sarah Flynn

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!

New Beginnings and Endings

After two years of community interviews and workshops, the world premiere of New Beginnings took Winnipeg by storm! Over the course of the run, we had multiple sold-out shows and over 750 people came to see the play. Every performance offered a conversation circle to continue the dialogue sparked by this production, allowing audiences the chance to ask questions and learn more about the stories reflected in New Beginnings. Here are some of the great things people had to say!

It was wonderful, I cried and laughed. Those stories are so powerful. The first one with the burka is how we escaped.  I actually wore one for the first time in my life then. You guys did a great job bringing these stories to life.” – Ellie Towfigh via Facebook

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I’m excited to be a member of such an amazing company that inspires audiences to reach out and connect with others to promote social change in such powerful ways…  Perspective is hugely important to being a positive member of a community and I believe that it can often be overlooked.  But New Beginnings brings forward so many unique stories that can perhaps open horizons for our audiences and introduce the realities of immigration and resettlement.” – Alanna McPherson, Performer

“New Beginnings by Sarasvati Productions is beyond amazing. This production cannot end. The message of reality of resettlement should be heard by thousands more. The actors, content and music touched my soul.” – Judy Rose via Facebook

Thanks to a generous grant from the Inter-Action Program, we were able to offer a wide variety of accessibility services including ASL interpretation, child-minding, translation, transportation, and counselling for any audience members affected by the play’s subject matter. On May 24th, we played host to close to 100 Yazidi refugees from Operation Ezra, offering Kurmanji translation via headset and child-minding provided by Operation Ezra and West Central Women’s Resource Centre.

Congratulations on an excellent production! Thank you so much for having the Operation Ezra families at the show.  It was a great opportunity for them to experience live theatre. We really appreciate you going above and beyond to make it accessible to all. The translation and child care allowed many of the attendees to experience their first live show. We had no idea what to expect yet we found ourselves laughing at times and crying at times.  We recognized some of the stories which made it even more impactful.” – Karen Shpeller, Operation Ezra

Over the course of the run, we had representatives from Winnipeg’s newcomer community speak after the show, allowing audiences to hear their stories and share their own as well. We also hosted Kamta Roy Singh, whose story appeared in the play.

It was fantastic show last night. The individuals who act as Kamta and employee did amazing job. Congratulations.” – Kamta Roy Singh, Kamta’s Story

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Kamta Singh and Lu Fayokun

I would like to commend you, your cast and all the others involved in this performance a great “BRAVO” on an excellent performance. I was in attendance at the world premiere of Sarasvati Productions presentation of New Beginnings and was so impressed with it… A very great performance by the cast. Representatives of the Jamaican Association of Manitoba were invited to answer questions and share comments with the cast and audience at the end of the performance. A great evening.” – Patrick Moore, Jamaican Association of Manitoba

 

We couldn’t have made this production happen without the community members who participated in our workshops and allowed us to share their stories onstage. Big thank-yous as well to our incredible creative team, our hard-working volunteers, and everyone who came out to support New Beginnings!

Sarasvàti’s Top 6: ‘What Has Us Excited About 2018’

We have big plans for 2018! Check out the top 6 things that have us starting off the year full of enthusiasm!

6) We are excited to be working with Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba to provide ASL interpreters at the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues for the very first time! Living through riots, learning to teach yoga as a senior, accepting your true self and conquering all odds – see these stories of unstoppable women March 10th. ASL interpretation will be provided for both the 4pm and 8pm performance. Celebrate International Women’s Week with us!

The cast of IWW2017

The cast of IWW17.

5) We are eager to premiere the full production of a project we’ve been working on for two years – New Beginnings. Witness the coming together of a diverse range of artists, community members, recent newcomers and established immigrants. Through the use of dance, music, visual art and storytelling we will come together to explore the themes of displacement and resettlement. This unique production will also run in the same space as One Trunk Theatre’s new show Boundary Avenue. There will be special opportunities to see both productions. Visit our website to get your tickets!

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4) We are so pleased to be going into 2018 with full-time admin support thanks to the capacity-building funding we received from The Winnipeg Foundation! This support will enable us to reach our full potential. You can bet we’ll be taking things to new heights!

3) We can’t wait to launch our second year of theatre workshops with the youth at Children of the Earth School. Last year, we piloted a series of theatre workshops at COTE  – a school that would not otherwise offer a theatre program. The results were incredible. This year we’ll return to offer regular theatre programming with facilitators Marsha Knight and Josh Ranville plus a roster of amazing guest artists.


2) It’s only January and we are already hard at work planning FemFest2018 – Staging Resistance. Provocative plays, brand new workshops and artists with incredible vision, we have a lot in store! Stay tuned for details on our 16th annual festival.

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1) We feel very enthusiastic to be working towards our 2018 goals with the support of an amazing staff, Board, volunteers and audience base. Most of all, we look forward to sharing a transformational year with all of you. Happy New Year!

Staff and Board December 2017

Many of our staff and Board members at a December meeting

For on-the-pulse news on our 2018 productions and workshops visit sarasvati.ca or sign-up for our mailing list!

 

Launching IWW18

How do you pull together 10 performers, doing 10 pieces and touring to upwards of 15 locations? With a lot of help. For five years now Rachel Smith has been an integral part of the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. Rachel is part of choosing the theme, making monologue selections and directing pieces to be performed at the theatre and throughout the community. As we begin to choose our selections for IWW2018, we caught up with Rachel to talk about what she’s looking forward to about the project this year.

What does the IWW Cabaret of Monologues mean to you?

I have been fortunate enough to grow as a director throughout my time working on the cabaret. When I first joined the artistic team I had just graduated with my MA so I was eager to get more practical experience under my belt. Working on this event gave me the opportunity to have Hope McIntyre as a mentor and I feel this has strongly contributed to my growth as an artist.

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Rachel Smith

Working on monologues is challenging in many ways. The playwrights have to write an active and engaging performance for only one person. The actors have no other actors on stage to feed off of and sometimes have to react to an imaginary character. As a director we have to help the actors figure out how to bring the monologues to life; ensuring the performance is active and engaging.

Each monologue that I have worked on has presented its own unique challenges artistically and each actor is different to work with. Every time I have worked on the monologues I take something new away from them. The practical experiences I gain are matched by the expansive understanding that the different stories present.

What does this year’s theme ‘Unstoppable’ mean to you?

Each year the theme we choose offers new stories and new perspectives. The perspectives that are represented in the monologues are not often seen on stage elsewhere. The topics challenge the audiences and offer new ways of thinking about the themes we present. Working as a director on these stories ensures that my own biases are constantly being challenged. I hope that it does the same for audiences.

I think that the theme “unstoppable” is important because it can be inspirational. Everyone faces challenges at some point in their lives. For some people just getting out of bed in the morning can be a challenge. Sometimes the circumstances we find ourselves in can seem hopeless. Sometimes we need other people’s stories about how they are able to push through and keep going, in order to feel as though we can do the same.

What have some of the highlights been for you?

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Jane Burpee in Dave Carley’s “Urban Nun”

My favourite monologue that I have worked on has been the, somewhat crude, smoking Nun played by Jane Burpee. It was such a great monologue and I had so much fun working on it.

That being said, every year the monologues and rehearsals are so great that it is hard to narrow down the highlights. For me, working on the Cabaret, in general, is a highlight.

Why celebrate IWW with the Cabaret of Monologues?

The Cabaret of Monologues is a unique event where we are able to confront important societal issues while getting the chance to showcase talent from Canadian Women. We often get a range of work from all over Canada from women writers of various backgrounds. With the added bonus of being able to work with local, often up and coming, artists. It is a chance to have powerful stories portrayed by powerful women on stage.

One of my favourite aspects of the Cabaret of Monologues is that the monologues tour to different community organizations. This provides opportunities to bring the performances to people who may not be able to attend the full public event. Many organizations use the monologues as an opportunity to talk about circumstances that members of their communities may be confronting. It also provides opportunities for the performers to meet members of the community. This gives the event a more personalized atmosphere.

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Johanna Burdon performing at St. John’s Library

Stay tuned for the announcement of this year’s pieces in an upcoming blog! You can catch the 2018 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues March 10 at 4pm and 8pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Tickets are on sale now.  Those interested in booking monologues to tour to their community can contact Angie at associate@sarasvati.ca .

 

Up Close and Personal with Judith Thompson

Not only is legendary Canadian playwright Judith Thompson coming all the way to Winnipeg  to celebrate 15 years of FemFest, she is fully embracing all that the festival has to offer!

Two-time recipient of the Governor General’s Literary Awards for Drama and an Officer in the Order of Canada, Thompson was awarded the prestigious Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts in 2007. In 2008 she was honoured with the Susan Smith Blackburn Award and the Dora Mavor Moore Outstanding New Play Award for Palace of the End, which was also awarded the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. Thompson has written a number of classic Canadian plays, including White Biting Dog, Lion in the Streets, I Am Yours, Such Creatures, The Thrill, and Watching Glory Die.

Despite her well-earned recognition as a playwright, Judith attributes her ability to continue writing to the stability offered by a teaching position at the University of Guelph. Were it not for this stability, she says she would have gone into social work, which won’t come as a surprise to avid Thompson fans. Thompson has made an impact on audiences around the world by amplifying voices of those who are not often heard. Her work in the arts is driven by her desire to see beyond the surface of an issue and her recent play Watching Glory Die is no exception.

Judith Thomspson_FemFest2017Most recently, Thompson has focused on working with people of exceptionality, including those who are differently abled.  Experiences with her daughter, who lives with auto-immune deficiency, lead Thompson to work with youth living with chronic disorders.  Her focus now is on how to use any clout she has to give life to stories from those who may not otherwise be heard. When asked what her title would be if she were a book, Thompson said, ‘Nothing about us without us – using my art to amplify voices’.

Thompson brings a unique perspective to playwriting, and perhaps that is why she’s been able to write plays that leave such an impact. In an interview with the Georgia Straight, Thompson said, “I haven’t suffered the way that many people have, but I think that it [the epilepsy] gave me some kind of lens. And it’s the combination: I have enough sense of entitlement as a person, with the privileges I’ve had, to write a play, and to think that anybody would listen; but then I also was—I think I would say lucky enough to go through the epilepsy, and a couple of rough years in school, to have an understanding.” Multiple award-winning playwright, mother of 5 now in the 60’s, she feels she has proven, despite naysayers, that she can have everything and do it all as a woman.

This September, FemFest brings you many opportunities to get to know Judith Thompson. Throughout Sept 16-23 you can learn from her at a free public lecture, study with her in a playwriting masterclass, hear her read from new work in development, sit down across from her for a one-on-one conversation and of course, see the FemFest production of Thompson’s recent play Watching Glory Die.

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REAL THING LECTURE (free)

Judith Thompson speaks as part of this series of exciting and informative lectures by guest speakers from the ‘real world’ of theatre and film. An important opportunity to hear about the reality of having a career in the arts.

PLAYWRITING MASTERCLASS

An opportunity to work with one of Canada’s most studied playwrights. The focus will be on writing by impulse, discovering moments of transformation that are worthy of the theatrical medium and digging deep in to conflict and character. This masterclass is intended for playwrights who are actively writing.

WATCHING GLORY DIE by Judith Thompson
Produced by Mulgrave Road Theatre
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“Politically charged and some of Thompson’s best story-telling”
-HALIFAX BLOGGERS

Watching Glory Die is inspired by the true story of New Brunswick teen Ashley Smith. Deliberately fictionalized, a riveting and deeply compassionate portrait of three women – Glory, incarcerated for minor offences at age 14; Rosellen, the girl’s adoptive mother desperately trying to remain connected to her daughter; Gail, a prison guard, walking the line between her ‘orders’ and her conscience.

HUMAN LIBRARY (free)

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Readers will be able to borrow from an amazing line-up of Human Books for up to 30 minutes of one-on-one conversation.  Thompson looks forward to sharing how arts can be used by all to increase understanding. Check-out details for reserving books.

ONE NIGHT STAND AND A TOAST TO 15 YEARS!

Judith Thompson joins five of Winnipeg’s own most celebrated playwrights to toast 15 years with readings of new work in development. Do not miss this closing night event!