Announcing Our New Mentorship Project!

Are you ready to launch into the next stage of your training? We’re kicking off the start of our brand-new “Launchpad Project”! Beginning in May 2019, a team of local emerging artists will get together to create a brand-new devised piece to be showcased at this year’s festival. If you’ve ever wanted to create something new with your peers, this is the project for you!

Our Coffee House for Emerging Artists back in August highlighted that  artists are looking for is a platform to perform, show off their skills, and get recognized for their work by their peers. Training and development opportunities only go so far without an outlet to show what an artist can do. We’re responding to this need in the community by offering a team of emerging artists – performers, directors, writers, dancers, designers, you name it! – the chance to work together and create something new for a public audience.

We’re taking to the community to recruit a group of emerging theatre artists to participate in a four-month intensive to create a brand-new production to be showcased at FemFest 2019: All the World’s A Stage.  Our goal is to make this program accessible with honorariums to participants and transportation subsidies – that’s right artists, getting paid to create theatre! We know how important it is to get that first paid opportunity and feel validated as an artist. This project will also give artists the opportunity to show off their skills to the wider theatre community.

Artists may come from any background, education, ability, or age group provided they meet the criteria for an emerging artist: being in an early stage of their career while demonstrating a strong aptitude for working in theatre. Older artists making a career switch are also welcome to apply. We will largely be focusing the project on women, non-binary, and trans-spectrum artists eighteen and older with a demonstrated interest in performance.

The process will start with a workshop intensive, covering topics like improvisation, creating devised work, movement, physical theatre, playwriting, and vocal skills. Mentoring artists from Winnipeg’s professional theatre community will offer their support and feedback in the creation of the new work. Throughout the course of the project, participants will gain the chance to be mentored by professional artists and make valuable connections.

Interested artists are advised to contact Daphne at associate@sarasvati.ca to learn more about the project or request assistance in completing the application.

See the attached call for submissions for more information!

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Kicking Off with Seven Circles!

We’re excited to officially kick off our Reconciliation Through Theatre project! We are honoured that seven organizations from around the city are hosting Indigenous Youth Visioning Circles, bringing together their youth to guide us in developing a framework for arts-based workshops. We’ll be starting off at Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc. this Thursday – read on for more information about the exciting partnerships we have for this project!

 

Ndinawe-logo-horizNdinawemaaganag Endaawaad Inc. (or Ndinawe for short) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth in Winnipeg. Since 1993, their integrated services have been connecting vulnerable children and youth aged 11–17 with the shelter, culture, recreation, education, outreach and support they need for safe and healthy lives. Open every day of the year, Ndinawe is an immediate and reliable place of safety, connection and support for youth during times of high risk when other resources are unavailable to them.

 

logo_ILDII-300x87Indigenous Leadership Development Institute Inc. (or ILDII) is a non-profit organization established to build leadership capacity in Indigenous people. We’ll be working directly with their Empowering Indigenous Youth in Governance and Leadership (EIYGL) program. EIYGL is Indigenous and youth led that provides important ingredients that builds effective leaders through meaningful skill development.

 

imagesUsing a creative, dynamic approach, Marymound School delivers the provincial education curriculum from elementary grades to grade 11. Marymound School serves two populations of students. Some are young people who live in Marymound group homes or living units, while others, Day Treatment students, come from all over Winnipeg, and live at home with their parents, foster parents or other group homes.

 

Manitoba Youth Centre is the largest youth correctional centre in Manitoba and is located in Winnipeg. It houses both male and female young offenders. MYC is responsible for the care, custody and security of Sentenced and Remanded youth. Case-management, Programming and Spiritual care are offered regularly at the centre; in order to help young people make better choices and avoid criminal lifestyles.

 

CaptureKnowles Centre is a community-based, non-profit social service agency for children, adolescents and young adults facing difficult times in their lives. It began as a home for boys in 1907, and today provides a range of therapeutic and skills-based programs to young people from Manitoba and other communities throughout Canada. Their mission is to help young people and their families to address past struggles, to develop healthier relationships and ways of life, and to reach their full potential in the future.

 

WLogo-1Wahbung Abinoonjiiag was established to empower children and their families to break the cycle of violence. They do this by providing opportunities for holistic healing through culturally-appropriate teachings and activities in a safe and nurturing environment. They offer youth programs, to provide participants with a safe environment where youth can come hang out, be themselves, and get support from their peers and caring adults.

 

10183d2b-f704-4fe7-a968-516f5979c475nChildren of the Earth School is an Aboriginal education school that aims to serve students who, while undertaking a standard high school education, also want to learn about their Aboriginal heritage, values, and traditions. We’ve been running youth workshops at the school for the past few years as the school does not currently offer a drama program. We’re excited to return and work with the youth to prepare for our May 2020 production!

This is just Phase One of the project! You can see the results of the visioning circles at our public presentation and project launch May 4-9, 2019. We will then launch workshops in June and begin work combining the stories to create a full production, debuting May 2020. Follow the progress on our latest community collaboration project!

 

The Road to Reconciliation

“What are you going to do about the way this country treats Indigenous People,” asked Senator Murray Sinclair at the Winnipeg Foundation’s recent Vital Conversation. It is not an easy question. The word reconciliation is being used a lot lately, but not always with a full understanding of what it means let alone what it will require. Sarasvàti Productions is grappling with the role of theatre and the arts in this important process. Thanks to funding from the Winnipeg Foundation, we’re gearing up for the first phase of a long-term project. With the hard work of our Project Coordinator Nova Courchene, Indigenous Community Outreach Coordinator Marsha Knight, Visual Artist Jaime Black, Graphic Designer Justin Bear, and the guidance of our Indigenous Advisory Committee, we are putting together an exciting public launch of the project from May 4 to 9.

 

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[Poster] Sarasvati - 7 CirclesThroughout April we will be working on Seven Circles, visioning sessions with youth. Seven organizations will host a space for youth to brainstorm and decide the parameters for a series of arts-based workshops. We are grateful to Children of the Earth High School, Indigenous Leadership Development Institute, The Knowles Centre, Manitoba Youth Centre, Marymound School, Ndinawe, and Wahbung Abinoonjiiag for their partnership.

At the May launch, Jaime Black will share what was heard in these consultation circles through an art installation. This presentation is part of our full project launch with a chance to share what we have heard as well as gather the community together for wider input. We’ll also be hosting a reading of Jo MacDonald’s OUR HOME & Native Land, winner of the 2017 FemFest Bake-Off. Director Heidi Malazdrewich and Dramaturg Yvette Nolan will be on board to help with the development of the play. This comedic piece about treaty rights will help to frame discussion and encourage public input.

The public presentation will take place on:

  • Saturday, May 4th at 2pm
  • Tuesday, May 7th at 1pm
  • Wednesday, May 8th at 10am
  • and Thursday, May 9th at 7pm

Members of the public are more than welcome to attend! Admission to this event is pay-what-you-can-afford at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony St at the U of W).

However, this is just the starting point for the project.  From June to November, workshops will take place at our partner organizations. Using storytelling, the youth will translate their experiences into different art forms. This first phase of the project will bring together youth, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and artists in several mediums.

Then in May 2020 a full public performance of the resulting work will take place. As a true community collaboration, what this performance will include will come directly from the youth so remains to be seen, created, dreamt and realized.

Saying Goodbye to IWW 2019

Another great International Women’s Week has come and gone! After a community tour that took our team all across Manitoba, our Cabaret of Monologues wrapped up with two public performances on March 9th. In total 860 people saw the work.

This year we traveled further than ever before with two community performances in Flin Flon and The Pas! Brand-new audiences across the province got to take in inspiring and powerful performances, bringing the stories of hilarious, strong, resilient women to communities that don’t normally get to experience the power of live theatre.

 

 

I saw just a few performances at a fundraiser for Agape House, and they absolutely blew me away. I’ll never be the same. I feel empowered, transformed, electrified. I am officially a huge fan and can’t wait to see more! Bravo to all involved. Bravo!” – Agape House Audience Member

Stop hiding away and embrace your story so you can love yourself, then you can love the world. I honestly just feel so strong and confident now, with such a clear purpose.” – Agape House Audience Member

 

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We teamed up with classes at the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba to share stories of sexuality, addiction, and disability with students. Our performers also entertained the youth of West Broadway Youth Outreach’s Girls World program, inspiring the kids to share their own stories of empowerment!

 “It was wonderful to have the Sarasvati performers in my class. I appreciated the opportunity to have ideas related to the class presented in such an engaging and dynamic way, and especially to have a chance to talk to the performers afterwards about what the pieces meant to them. Students learned both from the performances and from the discussion afterwards.” – Dr. Jocelyn Thorpe

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Sarasvàti Productions for a couple years now – selecting works from their annual Cabaret of Monologues – and it’s always been an excellent experience. The Cabaret of Monologues provides such a wonderful array of performance art that is sure to please many audiences. The performers/performances are diverse, strong, intriguing, thought-provoking, heartwarming, humbling, enlightening, and more! The SP staff are always eager and available to accommodate requests that help me put on a good show. The work that they do is not only important but necessary! I hope that their work and programming continue year after year.” Mubo Christine Ilelaboye, Community Groups Coordinator, University of Manitoba Womyn’s Centre

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“That was really fun, it’s so cool one person could make it so alive without a stage or other actors or anything fancy like that! Like a one woman show!”

“We really want to write our own play about women empowerment and how strong women are.”

“I’m so glad we got to do this for Women’s day, we should do this again!”West Broadway Youth Outreach Girls World Participants

 

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We also featured our full line-up at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, pairing our performers with the museum’s exhibitions to share the call for equality and the stories of ground-breaking women.

 “It was an exceptional experience for us, as well. To see our spaces filled with so many people and alive with this programming was a true highlight! Thank You!”Chandra Erlendson, Manager of Public Programs at Canadian Museum for Human Rights

 

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Thank you to everyone who made this year’s Cabaret such a success: from our incredible performers, our hardworking staff and production team, our amazing volunteers, and all the wonderful audiences who helped us put women’s stories in the spotlight! We’ll see you next year for another exciting Cabaret celebrating the experiences of women everywhere.

 

Get to know the Artists Behind IWW 2019!

Hard to believe our 2019 Cabaret of Monologues is coming up so fast! This week, get to know the amazing performers behind this year’s event.

How would you describe yourself to a stranger?

Amelia Warkentin, The LightFishers: I am a student, a friend, a daughter, and a very flawed human that recognizes each day as a blessing.

Brooklyn Alice Lee, Sunday Morning Brunch: An empathetic animal lover with a passion for playing make-believe.

Kim Kakegamic, Who’s Driving: I’ll tell you how someone recently described me – friendly, quirky and fun. So that’s what I’ll go with! I work as a writer and I’ve always loved the arts and performing. Although I am an introvert who prefers to stay home, so maybe the best word to use is “dichotomic”.

Lauren Marshall, Geraldine Sloan: 90% my mother, 64.5% bad at math, 17% Mrs. Bennett, 15% Jo March, 5% Harry Potter at the moment in Order of the Phoenix when he’s waiting for mail to arrive at the Dursleys’ and it never comes.

Renee Hill, Oracle Jane: I am a friendly, creative person who enjoys people. I am a stay-at-home mother who maintains her sanity through creativity!

 

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How do you feel connected to your piece?

Amelia: I have visited family in a psychiatric ward and I am very aware of how mental health services operate. I can relate to the anxiety expressed throughout the piece and understand the detrimental effects of addiction.

Brooklyn: I feel connected to the dry, blunt humour of Josephine – she and I are very alike in that way.  I like the complete honesty of the piece. It’s unique, raunchy, and relatable even if you yourself haven’t been in the character’s situation.

Lauren: I love Geraldine because she is fighting for the thing she wants, despite what the people close to her expect her to be. I so strongly identify with that. I’m lucky to have supportive friends and family, but I get her. When I overhear, “She’s still trying to make it as an actress?” it drives me crazy. Just believe in me, for crying out loud! Stop saying no.

Hailley Rhoda, Talking about ED: I live with two invisible disabilities, and have since birth. The older I get, the more I realize how much living with them has shaped me. I wanted to be brave enough to speak some of the uncomfortable truths on stage in the hopes it helped spread that feeling to a wider audience.

Kim: Janet has a lot to say about a wide variety of issues and I feel connected to her opinions, how she turns things on their heads. Again, it’s the writing I really connect with. Plus Janet’s sassiness!

Nan Fewchuk, Thelma and Louise: As I grow older, I think so much more about my own mortality and have come to fully realize what really matters in life. I am so grateful for all of the good times and the wacky times, and for all of my family, friends, teachers, mentors,  coaches, and kind strangers who have taught me so much about life; how to  love, forgive, and journey forward.

Renee: I am interested in exploring how Ying comes to terms with how her innovative technology has negatively impacted marginalized people.  I am curious about the role of culture and its impact on success as well as the difficulty of coming to terms with our mistakes.

Shereen Ramprashad, I Am NOT a Victim: I wrote I Am NOT a Victim at a time when there was a lot of anti-Semitism against the Muslim community. The poem is a defiant cry against society’s need to repress and control women from being their true authentic selves.

Wanda Wilson, Bare Bones: My piece is my life – it is the story of the turning point in my life. I sobered up. I got my life back.

 

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How does your piece relate to the theme of embracing identity?

Hailley: This piece is the most of myself I’ve ever put onstage. Usually I get the mask of someone else’s words, or the framework of a pre-existing story to work behind. This is just me, and my lived experience: talking about the realities of living with disability in a way that I haven’t yet been brave enough to do.

Nan: When I was a little girl, my mom said to me, “Nan, one day you are going to wake up and you will be 40.” Well, I closed my eyes and opened them at fifty-seven years young. And here I am. No regrets. Forever grateful.

Shereen: The drive for my practise comes from my experiences as a kid not understanding why I had little connection to the world around me, why I couldn’t read numbers and symbols, or why my brain never shuts off. Most of all, why people felt it was all right to dehumanize me because of my skin colour and obvious learning difficulties. Once I understood how my brain worked, I was able to turn what is perceived as a disability into an outstanding ability.

Wanda: I’ve never shared my story before. It has been thirteen years and I still feel I have so much more to learn but I’m ready. It’s time. I know a lot of other people are hurting and one of several things I have learned in sobriety is that you are not alone.

 

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The team behind IWW 2019 out on tour!

You can see all these incredible artists in action on Saturday, March 9th! Get your tickets today!

Announcing our IWW 2019 Community Tour!

We’re taking the Cabaret on the road! As part of our annual International Women’s Week celebration, we’ll be touring the monologues out to community groups around Manitoba. This is a great way for new audiences to experience live theatre, especially in rural communities. This year, we’re travelling across the province to Steinbach, Gimli, The Pas, and Flin Flon! Check out the list below for all the ways you can catch the pieces in this year’s tour:

Aurora House Poster.jpgAurora House – The Pas

March 3rd at 1:00 PM

Wescana Inn – 439 Fischer (HWY 10)

Featuring: Sunday Morning Brunch, Talking about ED, The LightFishers, I am NOT a Victim, and Oracle Jane

Incorporated in 1982, the agency addresses domestic violence in the Norman region through counseling, support and education.  The Pas Committee for Women in Crisis operates two facilities – Aurora House, the emergency shelter, and My Sister’s House (a small apartment complex for women establishing themselves in a violence free life). Admission to this event is “pay what you can.”

 

BrooklynAliceLee_photobyPatrickRabago

Brooklyn Alice Lee in “Sunday Morning Brunch”

Women’s Resource Centre – Flin Flon

March 3rd at 7:00PM

Johnny’s Social Club (177 Green St)

Featuring: Sunday Morning Brunch, Talking about ED, The LightFishers, I am NOT a Victim, and Oracle Jane

The Flin Flon Women’s Safe Haven and Resource Services Inc. supports the women and children in their community. They work hard to empower women: to help them be more dynamic, confident and to ensure their safety. Admission to this event is free. Photo: Patrick Rabago.

 

University of Manitoba Womyn’s Centre

 March 5th at 5:00PM and March 8th at 11:00AM

Basement of University College, Room 145 (220 Dysart Road)

Featuring: Talking about ED (March 5th) and I am NOT a Victim (March 8th)

The Womyn’s Centre is a feminist collective on campus as well as a safe space to work, share and learn together. The Centre advocates on behalf of womyn of the university and offers a wide range of services to the collective members, university students, and the outside community. Photos: Patrick Rabago.

 

static1.squarespace.comCanadian Museum for Human Rights

March 6th at 6:30PM

85 Israel Asper Way

Featuring: Sunday Morning Brunch, Talking about ED, The LightFishers, I am NOT a Victim, Thelma and Louise, Who’s Driving, Bare Bones, Oracle Jane, and Geraldine Sloan Truhill: Mommy’s Going to the Moon, Kids!

We’re excited to partner with the Museum to bring you all nine IWW pieces! On the first Wednesday of every month, the museum offers free entry to guests. You can check out our full line-up as you browse the incredible exhibits on display.

 

monologue poster2Interlake Women’s Resource Centre – Gimli

March 7th at 7:30PM

Gimli Unitarian Church (76 2nd Ave)

Featuring: Sunday Morning Brunch, Talking about ED, The LightFishers, I am NOT a Victim, Thelma and Louise, Who’s Driving, Bare Bones, Oracle Jane, and Geraldine Sloan Truhill: Mommy’s Going to the Moon, Kids!

IWRC is a grassroots, community-based resource centre dedicated towards improving the quality of life for women, children, families, and the communities in which they reside. The Centre provides services and programs for women and their children living in or having left domestic violence situations, in order to help women make informed choices for themselves and their children.

The IWRC requests that admission to the event is given in the form of a basic hygiene product – particularly tampons, face wash, or conditioner.

 

Agape House IWD PosterAgape House – Steinbach

March 8th at 7:00PM

Steinbach Arts Council (304 Second St)

Featuring: Talking about ED, Bare Bones, and Geraldine Sloan Truhill: Mommy’s Going to the Moon, Kids!

As one of 10 women’s shelters in Manitoba, Agape House serves an area that extends North to Beausejour, South to the U.S. Border, West to Winnipeg and East to the Ontario border.

Agape House (Eastman Crisis Centre) began operating in December 1985, out of a three-bedroom bungalow, after concerned citizens recognized the need to help families in the Eastman region. In time, the women’s shelter moved to a five-bedroom house in Steinbach to facilitate the growing need for services. Today, the shelter has 16 beds, and in an average year sees over 200 clients and responds to over 1,000 crisis calls.

Admission to this event is $10 with proceeds going to support Agape House.

 

We’ll also be performing around Winnipeg for Rainbow Resource Centre, Sunshine House, University of Manitoba Women and Gender Studies, Residence Despins, University of Winnipeg Disability Studies, University of Winnipeg Conflict Resolution Studies, West Broadway Youth Outreach, and the North End Women’s Centre.

For the full lineup, be sure to get your tickets today for our performances on Saturday, March 9th! Tickets available here.

 

Queering Theatre Wrap-Up

This past Sunday, we took to the community to begin a conversation about the representation and practice of queer stories on stage. Local performing artists Elissa Kixen, Davis Plett, Lara Rae, and Liam Zarrillo spoke to their experiences of performing, creating, or working as a queer artist. Members of the circle were given the floor to share their stories and thoughts as well, creating a thought-provoking dialogue about how the LGBT+ community is reflected in the work produced both on stage and in popular culture.

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Important points raised during the discussion centered on themes of how one’s identity is reflected in the work we create. Even subconsciously, it’s possible to have a queer perspective to one’s work before folks were ready to come out publicly with their identities. Folks found themselves identifying with different themes presented in works that don’t present as being queer, but still reflect ideas and experiences that mirror those of the LGBT community – however unintentionally!

Representation was also a common theme: contrasting the need to discuss the history and harsher realities of the LGBT+ community with the desire for queer youth to see a positive future for themselves. Members of Rainbow Resource Centre mentioned the generational divide in this conversation. For many people, these discussions weren’t around when they were growing up. The representation they saw on screen was that of corrective violence, discrimination, or misinformation. As one speaker mentioned, it’s important to talk about when a character or show “misses the mark” while also acknowledging what they may have been trying to say about a queer experience. As well, including a variety of queer experiences in different characters avoids putting the responsibility of any one character to be all things to all people.

Currently in the theatre world, there is a larger discussion at work surrounding content warnings: what to include, how to include it, and when an artist would prefer not to give warnings for their work. Folks at the discussion offered up the different viewpoints to this topic: contrasting the desire to be surprised by the story with the need to be appropriately prepared to receive triggering content. Content warnings may take different forms: from a simple list of triggering themes available through a production’s website or offering more information through box office staff. One idea was also to allow folks to decide for themselves if they wanted to receive warnings through envelopes available at the theatre. Audience members could then open and check the envelopes for particular warnings before heading into the show. The main idea was that anyone who may be at risk can make an informed decision about whether or not to see a show while other audience members can experience the plot twists as the artist intended.

As well, the discussion delved into how it’s possible to apply a queer perspective to more than just the content on stage, but the process as well. This may include a more devised process than following a set script, an open dialogue about safe spaces in rehearsals, and getting rid of ticket prices to open the event up to people of all income levels. Attendees also discussed how to reshape the relationships between collaborators to ensure all voices on a project were given equal value. An important point was also raised about how to make events more accessible: including information clearly and publicly about whether or not the venue is wheelchair-friendly, if there are gender-inclusive washrooms on-site, and making events by donation instead of a fixed admission. The idea was to make all of this information part of common practice to put the onus on the producers to anticipate the needs of their audience.

While the discussion of “Queering Theatre” could easily have lasted longer than two hours, that was all the time we had! There is also much more that was tackled in the two hours that we can encapsulate in a single blog entry. A big thank-you to Rainbow Resource Centre for hosting us, to our incredible line-up of speakers, our fantastic facilitator Erin Meagan Schwartz, and everyone who came out to join the conversation. For more on the other workshops we have in store for this season, be sure to visit our website!