National Day of Remembrance

Content warning: Violence against Women-December 6th massacre, murdered and missing indigenous women


Gender-based violence continues to be a rising issue in Canada. Violent acts bred from hate, misogyny, homophobia and racism continue to increase, especially towards Women. On December 6th, 1989, fourteen young women were murdered by a gunman chanting “I hate Feminists” at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. December 6th has been named the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada.

Although 2019 marks the 30th anniversary since this tragic massacre, issues around gender-based violence have yet to improve in any real way. When talking about domestic homicide, it is important to note that over 70% of victims are women. The number of women who don’t report their physical or psychological abuse is on the rise through no fault of their own, but due to a lack of action and seeming indifference within our society and systems. The rising number of murdered and missing indigenous women is one of the most frustrating and heartbreaking examples of how these gender-based acts of violence and injustice continue to plague our country.Dec-6-Memorial-Plaque

Winnipeg remembers and honours the 14 victims of the December 6th massacre with events and memorials around the city:

  • 10am-11am Annual Memorial – Manitoba Legislative Building, gather to honour the women who were killed and remember the Manitoba women who have died in the past year
  • 12pm-1pm on December 6th there will be 231 Calls to Justice at the Manitoba Legislative Building. Hosted by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Girls liaison, MKO Inc., the 231 Calls for Justice are “231 steps that need to be taken by governments and Canadians to end the genocide of Indigenous women and girls.”

D8Jmp1XXYAIelHjFind the 231 calls HERE

On December 6th, join us in honouring and remembering Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colga, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte, and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.


 

Songi-deewin: Here & Now

Progress towards phase two of the Reconciliation Through Theatre Project is underway! Our first phase of workshops was crucial to phase two and the final product. From the art and stories shared by youth at our Seven Visions workshops series, an artistic team with on-going youth advisement will compile a multi-media piece to be performed in May, 2020. We are happy to announce the official title for the final performance, Songi-deewin: Here & Now!

We are also pleased to announce just a few of the initial team members as we move in to our next phase.


Jo MacDonaldJo MacDonald – Playwright/Dramaturg

Jo MacDonald is Anishinaabe, a mom, theatre fan, writer, and an Educator. She gave up dreams of super-villainy as it wasn’t as lucrative as depicted at the job fairs (false advertising…but then again what can you expect from an evil genius job pitch?). She received her BA and B.Ed. from the University of Winnipeg.  Jo had her Winnipeg Fringe debut with her comedy play Mother’s Little Secret in July 2018. Jo’s play NEECHIE-ITAS premiered in Oklahoma in June 2019.


Darla Contois – CollaboratorPicture1

We are pleased to have the workshop facilitator from the first phase continue in making sure the stories shared by youth are honoured in the script. Darla Contois is a Cree-Salteaux performer, playwright, and facilitator. She graduated from the Centre for Indigenous Theatre’s professional training program in 2014, attended David Smukler’s National Voice Intensive and premiered her solo show White Man’s Indian at Summerworks 2017 in Toronto where she was awarded the Emerging Artist Award. Since relocating to her hometown, she is passionate about using her theatre experience to uplift and empower Indigenous youth in Winnipeg. Darla was last seen in Prairie Theatre Exchange’s production of Happy Place.


IMG_3822_Facetune_08-11-2019-11-57-11Bear Harper – Mural Artist

We are also excited to introduce, Bear Harper. Bear was one of the youth at our Children of the Earth workshop back in June, as part of our Seven Visions workshop series. Bear created a sketch that caught our attention and prompted Sarasvàti to approach Bear for our Reconciliation Through Theatre performance in May. We have commissioned Bear to create a mural based on his sketch from June to be displayed as part of the performance in May 2020.

Bear graduated from COTE in 2018. He has spent most of his life sketching and began to explore painting more once in High School. Bear has had some art displayed at local grocery stores and art shows, but the mural will be his first big project. Bear is ecstatic to be creating something that he feels is meaningful and progressive. He cannot thank his support group enough. Through any and all trauma and hardships, he is overwhelmed with the support and love from friends and family.


Job Opportunity

We are also looking to hire an Indigenous production team for the May 2020 performance. Indigenous set, lighting, costume and sound designers are all welcome to apply! Candidates will be compensated and must be able to work independently, we will accept submissions from those with transferable skills/experience as well. To apply, send in your resume to info@sarasvati.ca before 11:59PM on Friday, November 22, 2019.

Production Team(1)


Currently, we are exploring themes, material and everything else that will go into Songi-deewin: Here & Now. Stay tuned for more information! Visit our website for more information on phase one.


 

Reconciliation: It’s Not Scary!

Nope, these aren’t Halloween masks. They’re the creation of youth from Knowles Centre, just one example of product from our The Art of Reconciliation workshops!

Reconciliation through theatre is not a one-day job. Since April, our team has joined community organizations to facilitate workshops with youth in the name of Reconciliation and completed the final workshop on October 24, 2019. The amazing team behind these innovate workshops is comprised of Nova Courchene- Project Coordinator, Marsha Knight- Indigenous Outreach Coordinator, and Darla Contois- Workshop Facilitator. Most workshops were also facilitated by various guest Indigenous artists.

DSC_0475We were also happy to host a fundraiser event on October 23, 2019. The fundraiser was a huge success, with a delicious indigenous 1491 meal prepared by Steven Watson and special guest artist KC Adams who spoke beautifully on her experience as an Indigenous artist. The fundraiser helped support Sarasvàti’s transformative theatre work.

We asked Nova Courchene to comment on Reconciliation Through Theatre as we wrap the first phase of the project, she spoke passionately on the subject…Nova Courchene Headshot

“It’s been an emotional, but amazing experience to work with youth who have experienced so much in their lives as Indigenous youth. The youth we had the privilege to work with and get to know on a very personal level shared their experiences and how they view reconciliation, how racism has affected their experiences, and stories about their everyday lives.”

Each workshop offered something unique – whether it be painting, drawing, rapping or acting. The workshops offered a creative outlet that allowed the youth to thrive and demonstrate their talents as young artists.

“We’ve met such talented and creative young emerging artists. From charismatic budding actors who stole the show, to extremely talented visual artists including comic story tellers, to gifted painters, sketchers, costume designers, and various other visual arts.”

Now that the workshops have concluded, phase two of the project begins. All of the art and stories collected throughout the workshop process will be compiled by our team. We will welcome playwrights Jo MacDonald and other artists as we work towards finding the most exciting way to turn the work in to a performance in May 2020 at The Forks. However, the work with the community doesn’t end there!

DSC_0395The preparation has begun for the next stages and we are currently in search of established and emerging Indigenous talent as set designer, costume designer, lighting designer and other production team members.

It is important to us to maintain the relationship with the community throughout this entire project. This is why we are on the lookout for Indigenous community members who would like to be involved with the second phase of this project. If you or someone you know has experience in production please send us an email at info@sarasvati.ca or feel free to give us a call at (204) 586-2236!

Stay tuned for more information on Reconciliation Through Theatre and the final performance in 2020!

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The 2019 Federal Election and the Arts

As Canadians, we are fortunate enough to be given the right to vote. On October 21st, our country will vote for the nation’s leaders. It is our responsibility to know what each candidate stands for to appropriately vote for the best and most competent leaders. As a Canadian theatre company focused on social change, we are most interested in what each party offers in regards to the arts.

Did you know that 95% of Canadians believe that arts and culture make a community a better place to live? As well that the arts are a valuable way to connect people of different cultures and languages. More than 87% of Canadians attended arts events in the past year alone! (Source)

Here is a simple breakdown of this year’s candidates and their promises relating to the Arts and other topics important to us at Sarasvàti Productions…


The Conservative Party –  Andrew SheerPhotos Andre Forget / OLO

  • Not yet released an arts platform

For more on the Conservative Party, click HERE


2015-Swearing-In-LargeThe Green Party –  Elizabeth May

  • Includes a section on arts, culture and media with some of the following commitments:
  • Increase funding to all of Canada’s arts and culture organizations
  • Increase funding to CBC and Radio Canada by $315 million per year
  • Review tax incentives for film production to ensure all parts of Canada are competitive
  • Fund health Canada’s mental health and LGBT+ services

For more on the Green Party, click HERE


The Liberal Party – Justin Trudeau8403298

  • Includes an arts and culture platform. They also have an official languages platform, which includes some cultural sector commitments. Highlights of the cultural sector announcement includes the following commitments:
  • Develop legislation that will take appropriate measures to ensure that all content providers offer meaningful levels of Canadian content in their catalogues, contribute to the creation of Canadian content in both official languages, and promote this content and make it easily accessible on their platforms
  • Support Canadian film by increasing annual funding for Telefilm Canada by nearly 50 percent a year
  • Strengthen the regional mandate of CBC/Radio Canada
  • Provide a $200 credit to every Canadian child when they turn 12, to access local Canadian cultural content and activities

For more on the Liberal Party, click HERE


Jagmeet-SinghThe New Democratic Party (NDP) – Jagmeet Singh

  • Includes an arts and cultural industries platform. Their platform confirms some of their commitment to:
  • Ensure artists and cultural workers earn a living wage including through income tax averaging
  • Measures that require Netflix, Facebook, Google, and other digital media companies to pay taxes, support Canadian content in both official languages, and take responsibility for what appears on their platforms
  • Increase funding for CBC and Radio-Canada
  • Financial support for Indigenous theatre at the National Arts Centre (NAC).

For more on the NDP, click HERE


On October 21st, if you are 18 years or older, exercise your right to vote! Have your voice heard and help to make a change. If you’re still unsure about who to vote for you can find an informative and quick quiz to help you HERE. As well, find where to vote for your jurisdiction HERE.

For more arts-based insights on the election visit:

https://www.caea.com/Portals/0/Documents/News/2019/Recommendations-2019FederalElectionPlatform-2019-07-09.pdf

https://pact.ca/pacts-2019-federal-election-messaging/

http://www.manitobansforthearts.ca/en/


Arts have been proven to empower youth (especially those at risk). It has proven to help youth succeed in school, work, and in life. As 85% of Canadians believe that education in the arts helps with both the emotional and intellectual development of children (source), it is important to vote in support of the arts, for our children and their futures.

At Sarasvàti Productions, we greatly value the arts and the power the arts holds in the lives of youth. Especially when it comes to the topics of growth and healing. Coming up next week, we are hosting our “The Art of Reconciliation” fundraiser, in support of our transformative theatre work. Purchase a ticket for the fundraiser HERE. To read more on The Art of Reconciliation, click HERE to find blogs dedicated to the project.

We hope to see you on October 23rd to celebrate a successful election and the progress towards the arts, equality, and reconciliation.



 

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!

Coming Up Next…

With the glitter swept off the stage, the Bake-Off winner crowned and the touring companies headed home; FemFest 2019 has come and gone. Now comes the question, what’s next for Sarasvàti Productions?


MARCH MONOLOGUES

As always our annual International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues will take place this upcoming March. IWW Cabaret of Monologues is a touring production that features monologues and performance pieces by various women on various subjects. Be sure to stay tuned for more information on the Cabaret!32368407097_56886e8a14_z


RECONCILIATION

Another exciting project and our current main focus of the season, is on Reconciliation Through Theatre.

Over the past few months, Sarasvàti Productions has been holding a series of workshops at 7 different youth organizations, in the spirit of art and reconciliation. Organizations worked with so far include, Wahbung, Children of the Earth High School, Ndinawe, and DSC09386IDLII. In the next month we will also work with youth at Marymound, Knowles Centre and Manitoba Youth Centre. Youth are creating amazing art work that expresses what reconciliation means to them. All of the artwork and stories shared will be compiled into a final performance at The Forks, May 2020. Reconciliation is the restoration of friendly relations. It is a simple concept, but challenging to achieve when much reparation needs to be done. As a true community collaboration, the final performance will come directly from participants working alongside professional artists.

In support of this final event, we will be hosting a fundraiser called The Art of Reconciliation!

68928970_10157632839367533_3029259069731897344_nOn October 23rd, you are invited to join us at Crossways in Common (222 Furby Street) for a special dinner with a 1491 menu, a cash wine bar and special award-winning multi-media artist KC Adams. All proceeds will go towards the funding of our 2020 event. The youth and community members have worked so hard to create moving and captivating art work, from paintings, to sewing and written words of wisdom and hope. Help us open up the conversation to as wide an audience as possible!

The results and lessons learned from the project will also have a long-term impact with changes to Sarasvàti’s practices moving forward. We are so grateful to be working within our community and hearing the stories of those who come out to our workshops.

For more information on The Art of Reconciliation, visit our website HERE.65204148_10157491192852533_8197606934581346304_n


WORKSHOPS

Finally we are preparing this year’s workshop series for artists. We had full to capacity sessions at FemFest including a Pop Art Performance workshop and playwriting masterclass. There will be plenty more opportunities for professional development. Stay tuned for the full calendar and in the meantime to whet your appetite join our Artistic Director, Hope McIntyre, for Creating the Space For Empathy, Risk & Growth In Theatre Training. She and Shannon Vickers with moderator Krista Jackson will gather for a sharing circle about how we can begin to create change in theatre school training. Hope and Shannon recently attended the Got Your Back Canada National Educators conference that identified issues in theatre training and will be sharing key ideas from this national discussion as well as possible new approaches. October 7, 2019 at 7pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (University of Winnipeg – 400 Colony St).

Everyone and Their Mother

Local Winnipeg mother/daughter pairs will play part in FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage! Like Mother, Like Daughter is coming to FemFest this year as one of our touring shows, with Why Not Theatre and Complicité Creative Learning. However all the mother and daughter participants are local.  Like Mother, Like Daughter takes real life mothers and daughters and through workshops, coffee dates and baking, build a production while still maintaining the improvised and authentic conversation on stage. This year, we have gathered indigenous and immigrant Winnipeg mother/daughter pairs for the production!

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Not only will you have the opportunity to sit in on a genuine and real conversation between the mother and daughter pairs, but each performance will be followed by a sit down dinner where audience members will have the chance to dine with the participants and continue conversation. A big shout out to Diversity Food Services for the yummy food that will be provided.


Now a brief introduction to the Mothers and Daughters…

Shirine Ali & Sabrina Bahadoosingh

Sabrina grew up in Winnipeg. She worked with (ISSA) Islamic Social Services Association as Operations Manager and managed several programs for newcomers and refugees. Shirine migrated to Winnipeg, Canada from Trinidad in the Caribbean in the mid- seventies. Shirine became a Family Therapist and has worked in the field for over twenty-five years.

Rubina Atif & Saleha Komal

Rubina Atif is from Pakistan and has been living in Canada for the last seven years with her 3 children while her husband was serving in the Pakistani Air Force. Saleha and Rubina love nature, Winnipeg’s prairie skies and the sunsets that come with it.

Dina Maranan & Mary Nadine MaranangnaHwstw.jpeg

the weekday you can find Dina working away at Pollard Banknote and Nadine on the 4th floor of the science library at the University of Manitoba. After a long day, the two are brought together by a big bag of dill pickle popcorn ready to catch up on the latest episode of Jane the Virgin.

Mary Alice Smith & Danielle Morrison

‘Niiobinessiik’ Danielle Morrison and ‘Waasegiizhigok’ Mary Alice Smith have been mother and daughter for 33 years, mostly spent in Treaty 3 territory. Danielle is Mary Alice’s youngest, and almost like an only child even though she has 8 siblings.

Hazel Perrie & Victoria Perrie

Hazel and Victoria Perrie are Manitoba grown Metis/Swampy Cree/Icelandic/English women. They have primarily resided on Treaty 1 Territory and are from the Wolf Clan. They come from a long line of very strong matriarchs, with lineage back to the arrival of the colonizers.

6BbVwwlA.jpegSybil Ramprashad & Shereen Ramprashad

I am a Colonial child born in 1943 in British Guyana. I came to Canada in 1965 to London Ontario, two London’s were never so different. My career has been mostly in the Fashion Industry working for some Canada’s Leading Clothing Companies. Miss Shereen, a dyslexic, self-taught Canadian writer based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her writings are a lively blend of performance, wit, intelligent metaphor with under currents of subtext and observation.

April Seenie & Sienna Seenie

April Seenie is Anishnaabe (Ojibway), a mother, nursing student, and actor from Roseau River Anishnaabe Nation, raised in Winnipeg. Currently, she works for the St. Amant Centre and the First Nation Health & Social Secretariat of Manitoba, while he continues within the nursing program at Red River College. Sienna Henderson-Seenie is an Anishnaabe/Cree student, actor and dancer. She will be entering grade 11 and aspires to become a veterinarian.

Aisha Tahir, Tianna Natalya Wells, and Zaina Wells_epKGCmg.jpeg

We’re a trio with a Fommy and a pair of Irish twins. We are dramatic, multilingual and full of spicy Pakistani and Trinidadian flavours. Our family is definitely a unique one with our stories of adventures on the trains, subways and planes. We embrace all weird qualities and appropriate them for our unique individual selves.

Lucy Kaikai & Marvel Yeboah-Appiah

L: I came to Canada 15 years ago, a few months pregnant with my daughter. I was excited to be reunited with family in Canada, after living on a refugee camp, in Ghana, for almost seven years. M: I’m very thankful for my mother because she has done the best for me all my life. Who knew I would play over five instruments, work as a missionary or learn another language.

For the mother/daughter full bios, visit the show page HERE.

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Like Mother, Like Daughter has 5 shows during FemFest…

September 19th 6:30pm
September 20th 2:00pm
September 20th 6:30pm
September 21st 2:00pm
September 21st 6:30pm

The mothers and daughters have already met over a potluck meal and to bake bannock together. Rehearsals are continuing and we can not wait for you to see some authentic theatre with our own local participants!

To buy tickets visit our website HERE or call (204) 586-2236 to reserve!

FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage starts in only 2 days!