How It All Comes Together

FACE-7728

This week we welcome our Associate Director’s perspective on our unique approach to International Women’s Week. Rachel Smith is an actor, director, writer and acting coach. She has a MA in Theatre & Performance from the University of Manchester, UK and a BA Honours in Theatre & Film from the University of Winnipeg. Rachel has worked with Sarasvati many times and enjoys her continuing work with the company. 

The Cabaret of Monologues is an event that I look forward to every year. It is such an interesting and diverse array of artistic works that beautifully captures the year’s theme. This year the theme of “Starting Over” was particularly relatable for me, and for many audience members who I encountered. Starting Over can mean different things for different people. The variety of monologues featured in the cabaret was a wonderful representation of the different perspectives on that theme. I found that I could relate to most of the monologues in one way or another.

This was the fourth year that I have been the Associate Director on the cabaret. I was delighted and honoured that I was able to work on them again this year. It is an interesting project to work on because it is not rehearsed like a normal play is. Ten separate pieces are rehearsed once a week until the weekend before the full cabaret when it all comes together. Many of the actors do not even meet until the dress rehearsal. Each monologue is given the same rehearsal guidelines but the individual pieces are so different. It is great to work with the different actors and work with the unique challenges within the individual pieces. When working on them during the months of January and February, they feel almost like separate entities that do not relate to each other. When they all come together at the beginning of March it is amazing to see the full picture: the collage that is revealed.

Each monologue is powerful in its own way. I felt that the monologues developed with the newcomers to Canada were especially powerful. Some of them had heartbreaking stories yet were filled with joy and hope. When the monologues were presented as whole it became all the more powerful. Rachel Awur Moijok Chol was one of the women whose story was told during the performance. Her story was presented as a voice over recording of Rachel speaking while Sydney Macfarlane did a movement piece. At the matinee performance on March 11, Rachel sang an absolutely beautiful song after her story was presented. While she sang, Martha Akuch Maketh joined her on stage dancing with Sydney, while the rest of the cast joined the trio to prepare for the curtain call. The image of all those women dancing together on stage is one I do not think I will ever forget. It was so incredibly powerful to see them all up there, these amazing women portraying such important stories.

– Rachel Smith

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Eager to experience more transformative theatre? Join us for the world premiere of Breaking Through (May 23-28) an awe-inspiring new play about mental health.

ONS2: School Night!

Are you ready for round two?

The One Night Stand Series continues on Tuesday March 3rd at 7:30pm with a showcase of scenes by playwriting students. This is no amateur night! We bring you an action-packed line-up from student playwrights at Prairie Theatre Exchange and the theatre programs at University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba.

“What all these plays have in common is a finely tuned ear for dialogue, diverse and memorable characters, and nary an indication that these writers are young or young in craft”, says Series Producer, Tatiana Carnevale.

Nan Fewchuk will direct all of the readings. The pieces will be performed by an ensemble cast featuring: Kim Kakegamic, Adrianna Kollar, Kevin Longfield, Eric Rae and Cheryl Soluk. Plus special appearances by Cheryl Alexander, Lori Hart, Fawn Purnell and Carmen Smith.

Without further ado, let’s meet our selections!

Neechie-itas by Jo MacDonald (PTE) – Female friends get revenge!

Abstract Vincent Van Gogh by Sarah Luby (UofM) -What happens when a young man’s Sunny Day turns into a Starry Night?

The Dance by Tyler White (PTE) – How do you convince a stubborn 84-year old it’s time to move?

Untitled by Jonathan Mourant (UofW) – Family tensions rise to a boiling point.

Dodgeball by Wayne Ferguson (PTE) – Life is like a game of dodgeball – how many hits can you sustain before throwing in the towel?

Frivolous Things by Molly Cross-Blanchard (UofW) – A weekend at the cabin with the sister you despise? Go fish!

Who will get an A plus this time? That’s for you to decide!
As always, admission is by donation. See you at the Colin Jackson Studio on March 3rd!
P.S. If you’d like to have your work featured at the One Night Stand check out our final Call for Submissions below.


CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: SARASVATI PRODUCTIONS ONE NIGHT STANDS

Sarasvàti Productions is accepting submissions for the final One Night Stands reading series of the 2016-17 season, which will take place in April, 2017.

PLAYWRIGHTS
We are currently seeking submissions of 10 minutes scenes, plays, or monologues from emerging and established writers of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Playwrights may submit scenes that exceed 10 minutes, however should be aware that if the scene is programmed it may be edited at the discretion of the director for length. It is preferred that writers are based in Winnipeg but we will consider submissions from across Canada. Submissions will be assessed for their individual quality and in order to program a balanced event. No monetary compensation will be provided.

Please provide in one document: A bio of the playwright(s); one copy of the scene formatted according to acceptable Canadian play script format; a synopsis of the play, if the scene is part of a larger work; a character listing for the scene

We are especially interested in receiving submissions of new work that will occur in this summer’s Winnipeg Fringe Festival; work that highlights diversity; and work by female-identified playwrights.

DIRECTORS
We are also seeking submissions from directors who are interested in directing readings. No monetary compensation will be provided.

Please provide: A cover letter stating why you are interested in directing at One Night Stands and a copy of your resume.

ABOUT ONE NIGHT STANDS
The One Night Stand play reading series began in Toronto. The goal of the series is to test out new works and provide audiences the opportunity to get a first taste of new material and / or works in progress.

All submissions must be received by midnight, March 12th 2017. Submissions should be emailed to sarasvati.one.night.stands@gmail.com. For more information, please contact info@sarasvati.ca.

 

Tales of Starting Over Tackled by a Stellar Cast

We’ve got a lot of local talent packed into this year’s Cabaret, some familiar faces, and some new to Sarasvati. We’re pleased to introduce to you to some of the cast members of the 2017 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. Stay tuned next week for part two!

Cherrel Holder is an actress, dancer, and teacher in both arenas. She is a passionate multi-tasker who describes herself as “raw, enthusiastic, and annoyingly positive.” Cherrel will perform In My Country, an exposé of how Canada can appear to some as they arrive from other countries.

Many of you will be familiar with actor Erica Wilson who has worked with Sarasvàti many times, most-recently on Shattered.”I’m a girl with many faces”, says Wilson, “once a women said I had 5, I laughed and told her I currently had 7. I’m a workaholic that tries to do better every single year.” Wilson plays an Ojibwe Activist who finds herself faced with a big choice after speaking out at a rally.

Johanna Burdon is an actor and avid cyclist–perfect for her role in this year’s Cabaret where Johanna plays a character who is part-way through cycling across Canada.”I really like riding my bike”, said Burdon. “It’s my go-to form of transportation because it’s fun, healthy, good for the environment, easy, inexpensive, and reliable.”

Melanee Deschambeault is a full-time student in her 3rd year at U of M. She is an actor as well as one of the facilitators of Sarasvati’s  North End Youth Workshop Series. Melanee performs Questions and Answers, a piece that finds a young woman at a challenging moment in her life  as she attempts to re-enter the dating world after surviving rape.

And finally introducing Sarah London. Sarah is in her first year of studies at the University of Winnipeg. She was recently the subject of a mini-doc for The Orange Daisy Project which advocates for young women’s mental health. London will perform Wild Orchid, the monologue of a young woman with Autism who is trying to come to terms with the idea of breaking patterns.

We caught up with these performers to ask them a few fun questions and  get to know them better as they begin buckling down to rehearse!

If you could wake up tomorrow with any new skill, what would it be?
Erica Wilson: Contortionist, hands down. Its always been in the back of my mind but the way I’m going its such an unreachable goal.
Sarah London: A photographic memory to expand my capacity for knowledge.
Johanna Burdon: To be able to speak, write, and understand every language.
Melanee Deshcambeault: I would love to bilingual. French would be awesome!
Cherrel Holder: Sing like Lea Michelle.

Who is a local woman that inspires you?
Cherrel Holder
: My mom, Junette Holder, because she is a single parent from a third world country who fought to bring me and my two sisters to Canada for a better life, and in doing so has taught me the value of love and forgiveness.
Erica Wilson: I have been able to meet and work with so many kick-ass women in my life, just to name a few, Madison Thomas (also the playwright for the monologue I’m performing), Frances Koncan, Victoria Perrie, Emily Barker and Dee Thomas are just doing so well for themselves.
Sarah London:Your mom…just kidding. My mom inspires me, I probably don’t know your mom.

What would you do if you won a million dollars?
Sarah London: I would invest it, learn to play the stock market, take risks. Turn that million into millions.
Johanna Burdon:
Put half of it in a fund of some sort, so that it would grow, and spend the other producing theatre/donating to theatre companies.
Erica Wilson
: I’d pay off my mom’s debt, get her into her own little house fully paid and utilities paid for up to 20 years. Once that’s done pay my rent off for a year and travel. I’m a simple gal.

If you had to start over again in a new place, where would you want to go?
Cherrel Holder: New York – especially if it was Christmas!
Melanee Deschambeault: I would love to go to Montreal and audition for the National Theater School Of Canada.
Johanna Burdon: I can’t imagine getting a better start in any other city.

We are excited to get down to work with such an amazing cast. For more info on the pieces, or to get tickets visit our website!

 

Workshops Open Up the World of Theatre for Youth

Do you have an interest in acting but not sure how to get started? Do you want to learn about other aspects of theatre, like writing for the stage, and directing? Frances Koncan and Sarasvati Productions have put together a FREE theatre workshop series for youth age 16-24 in the North End.

“The purpose of the Sarasvati Youth Theatre Workshop Series is to find and develop the talent and ability of Indigenous and Newcomer Youth who are interested in the arts, especially acting, writing, and directing”, said Koncan. Frances has coordinated the workshop series, bringing local theatre artists on board to help teach and facilitate. The workshops will give priority to youth who are Indigenous, and youth who are newcomers living in the North End.

“These groups are under-represented in the landscape of Canadian theatre”, said Koncan, “these workshops exist to increase access for these youth to explore their interest in theatre and, if they so choose, lead to opportunities to continue their training and work professionally in the theatre industry!”

Youth who participate in the free workshop series will have the opportunity to:

-Meet professionals who work in the arts
-Learn theatre basics in performing, writing, and directing
-Practice and develop new skills
-Play games, enjoy snacks, and meet new people!

For those interested there will be a chance to take part in a continued series of workshops to develop your skills, and opportunities to work professionally with Sarasvàti in the future! So what are you waiting for?

Come to our FREE drop-in theatre workshop on January 11th 2017 from 4:00PM – 6:00PM at Art Kitchen, 508 Selkirk Avenue.

For more information or to register email Frances at frances@sarasvati.ca
A big thank you to funders NECRC and Neighbourhoods Alive!

youth-workshop-poster-dec-11th-2016

Starting Over/Finishing Stronger – Ten Powerful Monologues

What do a mystical meeting on a cycling trip across Canada, the inner monologue of a woman’s return to dating after surviving rape, and discovering the cold of Canadian winters have in common? They are all pivotal moments in women’s lives when they must face challenges and forge ahead.

This International Women’s Week Sarasvàti brings you ten engaging stories on the theme of “Starting Over.”

“Character is defined by the choices you make at junctures like these”, said Angie St. Mars co-writer of two pieces, “this year’s Cabaret showcases tangible women characters who define themselves in the moments you see played out before you. It’s exciting and scary and empowering all at once.”

After receiving an amazing array of selections from across Canada, we are honoured to share the final line-up and list of writers. This year our writing contributors include playwrights, poets, and young film makers. With a desire to reflect diverse voices and newcomer experiences our team also worked with women to put their stories in to monologue form.

Take a peek at what we have in store and check out our website for full descriptions.

  • The Pit by Alissa Watson
  • Questions and Answers by Sonya Ballantyne
  • Aabamii (Rise Up) by Madison Thomas
  • Wild Orchid by Bev Brenna
  • Three Totems by Natalie Frijia
  • Places that have no names by Fauzia Rafique
  • Diaspora by Angie St. Mars and Alka Kumar
  • You Say Tomato, I Say…Fine by Angie St. Mars from a story gathered through interviews
  • Lost Girls by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB
    Performed and Choreographed by Sydney Macfarlane
  • In My Country by Hope McIntyre with the women of IIWR-MB

Get your tickets now. Performances on March 11 at 4pm and 8pm at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Contact Erin at touring@sarasvati.ca to book a performance at your community venue and stay tuned as we announce the actors!

 

 

One Night Stands Are Back!

pte-colin-jackson-stage

They’re fresh on the scene and incredibly promising, would you like to meet them?
Join us for a One Night Stand reading of works in progress and experience the future of local theatre.

Sarasvàti Productions is thrilled to be remounting the popular One Night Stand series; a series dedicated to readings of new plays in development. This time, we have engaged theatre director and producer Tatiana Carnevale to bring the event into 2016.

“I think this idea is so much fun and I am excited to introduce it to the next generation of theatre artists!” said Tatiana, who has confirmed Prairie Theatre Exchange as partner and venue host for the series.

Each One Night Stand will take place in PTE’s Colin Jackson Studio.  The evenings are designed to showcase excerpts of new plays, which will be read on stage by an ensemble of local actors.

“Each night will have five or six different scenes featured. Sometimes it will be work that has never been heard before; sometimes it may be a scene that is giving a playwright a particular bit of trouble; it may be something an author wants feedback on”,  said Tatiana, who is excited to see the response to the Call For Submissions. “Depending on the submissions we get, some nights may have a theme, like ‘monologues’ or ‘scenes by playwrights under 25’. We are open to receiving all kinds of submissions as well as ideas!”

tatiana-headshot-00053

“I am very excited about the opportunity to hear a bunch of new work in the same place – each evening will be a fantastic sampling of the wide array of emerging talent Winnipeg has to offer.” Tatiana believes the Series will fill a niche in this city. “There are other events that happen in Winnipeg that are full play readings or workshops. However there’s no event that allows playwrights and audiences to test new material and each other… I think it’s going to be a lot of fun!”

Sarasvàti will also be looking for volunteers to lend a hand.  “Even if people aren’t playwrights there will be tons of opportunities to get involved!”, explained Tatiana.

The modern One Night Stand Series will premiere on February 2nd. If you interested in being involved, check out the Call for Submissions and contact Tatiana. Entrance to each event will be by-donation so that it can be accessible to everyone wishing to take part.

one-night-stand-call-for-submission-nov-23_16

Shattered Launches Tonight!

Although it is targeted at youth, Shattered is a powerful production and a must see for everyone! At our recent open rehearsal, one viewer asked “where were you when I was in high school?”

The interactive style is what truly makes it unique and empowering. As the audience’s guide for the experience, GeNie Baffoe has a presence that even the toughest audiences—aka grade 7 to grade 12—will warm to. Confident, expressive, and welcoming, GeNie is the Joker (a term used for a facilitator in Forum Theatre). He will have lots of back-up with the talented group of young  actors in the cast. They hit the road next week to open up the discussion about mental health with students at dozens of Manitoba schools.

“If you disagree with what is happening in the scene, if you notice that a character could be making better choices I want you to clap and yell stop at which point you will rise from your seat, join us up on stage and take the place of one of these characters, are you ready?”, announces GeNie. The actors step into place and begin the scene. In this scene, a young man berates another young man at school after finding out that his mother has a mental illness. Many characters are bystanders, but nobody steps in.

*Clap!*

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The scene freezes. GeNie identifies the clapper and invites her up on stage. GeNie asks, “What do you think this character could have done instead?”
And just like that youth are up on their feet, engaging in proactive solutions to stopping the stigma and providing support for those dealing with mental health. It’s a beautiful sight to behold.

Sarasvàti Productions set the course for this play for youth while working on their larger Mental Health Project. The project saw Sarasvàti’s team of artists facilitate workshops with the public and a number of community organizations in order to gather real Winnipegger’s experiences with mental health. At the urging of youth a piece targeted to high schools was created. Shattered is set in a high school and is performed entirely by a young cast.

Since we can’t bring our fans and supporters in to high schools we have partnered with Graffiti Gallery and Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba to offer a special public preview. Funds raised will help take Shattered to schools that would not otherwise be able to afford it. Join us tonight, October 6th, at Graffiti Gallery (109 Higgins Avenue). The show starts at 7pm and tickets are only $10, available at the door. The performance is open to everyone. This is your chance to watch the play and hear what youth in our city are dealing with in terms of mental health.

We hope you can join us for the Shattered Fundraiser preview. If you’d like to support but you’re unable to attend you can contact the office at 204-586-2236 or donate at our website sarasvati.ca.  If you know of a school that should host a performance please contact Erin at touring@sarasvati.ca.