On the Stage

You’ve met the playwrights, now meet the performers who will be bringing their stories to life! This year’s traditional monologues are Ping, Yearning/Distance, Masks and The A Word. Four local Winnipeg actors have been brought onto this year’s cabaret to perform these monologues throughout the tour.


TaesiaScratch headshotTaesia Scratch – Ping

Mother of four, Vancouver born and Winnipeg resident, Taesia Scratch will be performing Ping by Larissa Hikel. Taesia’s first role upon moving to Winnipeg was with Sarasvàti Productions and you may have seen her in the Bake-Off during FemFest 2019!

What excites you about your piece?

“It does not apologize. It is a raw story of an intense situation that all women may have faced, it tells a story of the fear that we have trying to get to the safety of the place that should be, safe.”

How do you relate to your piece?

“I have worked nights as a young woman and had to return home, where I lived alone, many times. I spent years working very late walking through my apartment lobby, after speed walking home, with this kind of fear, that comes to most women after the sun goes down.”


Saira Rahman – Yearning/Distance Saira Rahman

Saira is a proud Muslim, female filmmaker who also performed in FemFest 2019 for the world premiere of Baby Box. This year, she takes on the role of a new mother yet again as she performs Yearning/Distance by Beth Lanigan!

What excites you about your piece?

“Preparing to perform the piece will be an exciting challenge for me because it brilliantly manages to paint a vivid picture of what post-partum illness may feel like with all of its complexity.”

How do you relate to your piece?

“Although I’ve never experienced post-partum depression, I think this piece remains universal because all of us at one time or another have felt the sting of depression. I know I have, and it feels immensely comforting to know that we are not alone, and that in speaking about our feelings and experiences with depression and anxiety helps crush the stigma.”


5U3A3824-Edit-EditRenée Hill – Masks

Graduate of The University of Winnipeg Theatre department, Renée is a gifted singer, maker and bilingual voice over artist. Last year, Renée performed Oracle Jane by Vicki Zhang in our International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: Here I Am. This year, Renée will play a school teacher in Makrenna Sterdan’s Masks.

What excites you about your piece?

“It’s an upbeat, intelligent, curious look at educators, children and the systems at play.”

How do you relate to your piece?

“As a parent of young children I am intrigued by the education of our children and which societal systems influence how and what our children learn.”


Lizzie Knowles – The A WordLizzie Knowles

Ukulele playing, vegetarian, owner of two rabbits, Lizzie joins our team for the first time! Lizzie is a theatre grad from The University of Winnipeg with Honours Acting and participates in this year’s cabaret by performing The A Word by Brooklyn Alice Lee.

What excites you about your piece?

“I get really excited by the reality of it. The fear and anxiety is genuine, and it’s relatable to everyone I think. I really love whenever I can see a fully realized decision and the process to get there presented on stage. I think it’s comforting for an audience.”

How do you relate to your piece?

“My brain works in a very similar way to this character, so it’s been very fun to work on. I’m very grateful to tell a story that many people have gone through and few feel they can discuss.”


See these monologues and more during International Women’s Week! Touring from March 2nd-8th, 2020 with two public performances on Saturday, March 7th, 2020 at 4pm and 8pm! Tickets on sale HERE. March 7th at 8pm will be an ASL interpreted performance.

New Year, Same Us

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

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


IMG_5259International Women’s Week 2020 Cabaret of Monologues: Changes

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

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

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


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

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

Accessibility in Theatre Panel, April 4th, 2020

Diversity Panel, February 16th, 2020

Fringe Production 101, May 16th, 2020

And more!


Jo MacDonald

Jo MacDonald

Reconciliation Through Theatre

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

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

More on the reconciliation project HERE!


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


School Tour

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


FemFest 2020opening

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


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


 

A Year in Review

What a year it has been! As 2019 comes to a close, we reflect on all the wonderful successes the year brought. Some of which, we will carry on into 2020…


International Women’s Week 2019 Cabaret of Monologues: Here I Am

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It might sound odd to hear about our last Cabaret of Monologues as the 2020 line-up has already been announced, but it’s a year ago already that the last round of monologues were in the works and preparing for the 2019 tour!

We were so grateful and fortunate to take the cabaret to places we had never gone before! Such as the Women’s Resource Centre in Flin Flon and Aurora house in The Pas. We also took every single one of our monologues to The Canadian Museum of Human Rights for an evening. This tour was incredibly rewarding and we can’t wait to do it all again in a few short months!

Interested in this year’s monologues? Public performance tickets are on sale now. Get them HERE!


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Every year, we host a set schedule of fun and educational workshops for the theatre community. In 2019, we were happy to host five workshops.

This included workshops with panelists like Queering Theatre and How to Make a Living in Theatre. Both allowed us to try out a more inclusive approach with professionals talking amongst workshop participants.

Our annual One Night Stand Series also played a role in 2019 as playwrights were able to meet and work together to improve and workshop their craft.

FemFest 2019 hosted some workshops of it’s own! The Launchpad Project was initiated as a pilot project. It allowed a group of emerging artists to work with established professionals to create and perform their own production, To Kill a Lizard, during FemFest 2019. As well, our guest artist, Yvette Nolan hosted a playwriting masterclass, which culminated in Leaping Off the Page! Where playwrights were able to create and share work, then have it read aloud before an audience.

We also loved working with community groups to use theatre techniques in training settings. A big thank you to SEED Winnipeg, Nor’West Youth Hub, St. John’s High School, and the Manitoba Drama Educators Association for welcoming us!

Find upcoming workshop details HERE!


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On top of our regular workshop schedule, we were happy to start our Reconciliation Through Theatre project! Last spring we hosted consultation circles, then a public sharing with the reading of Jo MacDonald’s OUR HOME & native land. This important community-building work then allowed us to appropriately structure arts-based workshops at seven Indigenous youth organizations all in the name of Reconciliation.

The seven organizations were, Children of the Earth High School, Wahbung Abinoonjiiag, Ndinawe, Knowles Centre, Manitoba Youth Centre, Marymound, and Indigenous Leadership Development Institute.

All of the art created and stories shared are in the works to be curated into a final piece, Songide’ewin, which will be performed at The Forks in May, 2020. You can find more on the upcoming performance HERE!


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Of course, that brings us to FemFest 2019. Our annual festival of transformative feminist theatre! 2019 brought a whole new range of performances to FemFest.

For the first time in FemFest history, we were happy to host a visually impaired performer and her guide dog for, Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia. This production was moving and inspiring for audience members. We were even fortunate enough to host 4 visually impaired spectators and their guide dogs! Who wouldn’t love that?

Pop Art made its debut at FemFest 2019 as well. 4inXchange with company xLq was a unique interactive performance involving only 4 audience members and $1000 cash!

Lastly, Like Mother, Like Daughter warmed our hearts as local Winnipeg Indigenous and Newcomer mother/daughter pairs sat down in front of an audience and answered intimate questions.

FemFest has always had a way of bringing people together and celebrating various types of Canadian theatre, but this year it truly excelled!

The process of FemFest 2020 begins now! We can’t wait to show you what we have in store…


So long 2019, you were a good year for theatre! We hope your year was as good to you as it was to us. We wish you all nothing but the best for 2020 and look forward to sharing more transformative theatre with you in the months to come.

See you next year!


 

Behind the Curtain pt.2

Storytelling comes in all shapes and form. Whether it be a satirical monologue, mime or music; everyone has a story to tell and everyone has their own unique way of telling it. Last week, we introduced you to some of our playwrights and performers for International Women’s Week 2020 Cabaret of Monologues: Changes! And there’s more where that came from!

Meet a few more of our wonderful playwrights and performers…


 

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100 Decibels Deaf Mime Troupe

Joanna Hawkins: Performer – The Bold Beautiful and Deaf

 

Joanna is an active member of the Deaf community in Winnipeg. Her piece in this year’s cabaret is meant as a way to both represent and relate to Deaf women. We asked Joanna some questions on The Bold Beautiful and Deaf.

What drove you to create this piece?

Women have gone through so much and some currently experience mental illness, depression, anxiety, loneliness (having no support or encouragement – specifically for women who are Deaf and they cannot go to support groups because of no money for access to communication), or having no self esteem.

We want women especially with disabilities to be strong, bankable, business minded, fashionably beautiful, bold, blessed and balanced.

How does your piece relate to the theme Changes?

As a culturally involved Deaf woman, I have been connected with other Deaf women who struggle with their mental illnesses and want to improve their life but face obstacles due to communication barriers. I want to help voice their struggle and hope for the change to occur soon.


waNda wilsoN: Performer – Kweskenta

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waNda wilsoN performing “Bare Bones” in 2019

 

Cree musician and wanderer, waNda wilsoN returns to this year’s IWW with a new musical storytelling piece. Last year, waNda performed Bare Bones, a piece on overcoming addiction. This year, she brings a whole new story in relation to the theme of Changes.

What drove you to create this piece?

The theme of the cabaret, “changes”, inspired me to create this piece and share my stories and songs. Change is an inevitable part of life. Choice and decision-making are the key ingredients in Kweskenta.

My piece connects to the theme “changes” because it reflects many experiences I have been though at different times in my life. Through it all I have picked up many tools, and surrounded myself with people who have offered me not only love but hope. Kweskenta means “to change your thoughts” in Cree.


Makrenna SterdanMakrenna Sterdan: Playwright – Masks

Writer, creator and teacher, Makrenna Sterdan is a triple threat currently living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sterdan is also doing work with Green Kids. Green Kids aims to teach students about environmentalism through theatre – bringing us to her IWW monologue, Masks.

What drove you to create this piece?

Back when I was a kindergarten teacher living in Seoul, South Korea, the principal of our school asked me to help deliver an educational presentation to the students about air pollution. My job was to show the students put on their masks. While my students were older and did a great job following instructions, the younger students, around two years old, started crying.

Canada has a lot of fresh air and natural resources, so it’s easy to think of climate change as a hoax. Or, worse, that the pollution contributing to climate change is else’s problem. But Canada is as complicit in climate change as other countries, and we should do what’s best for the planet.

How does your piece relate to the theme Changes?

Come on, it’s the environment. Something’s gotta change, something’s gotta give, or we might lose the planet.


Stay tuned for more on the other monologues and performers in this year’s cabaret. Or book your tickets NOW! They make a great gift for the holidays.


 

Behind the Curtain

Art based on real experiences is the rawest of all. This year’s Cabaret of Monologues will feature four written monologues performed by different actors, while five other artists will perform their own pieces in various artistic mediums. This year’s selection contains a plethora of real-life experiences and each year, we ask the playwrights and performers to tell us a little info about themselves to share with you, our audience.

Meet some of this year’s playwrights and performers…


Beth Lanigan: Playwright – Yearning/Distance

Beth Lanigan is the playwright of the piece Yearning/Distance. Beth grew up in Freelton, Ontario and currently lives in Kitchener, Ontario. She describes herself as a “an overly earnest, overly anxious, overly sensitive person who also has heaps of curiosity, drive, and compassion.” Yearning/Distance follows the story of a new mother experiencing postpartum depression.

How do you relate to your piece?
“After giving birth to my first child, there was a profound disconnect between what those around me expected me to feel, and what I did feel. This piece has elements of what I experienced with my own post-partum depression. I also incorporated various aspects of the experiences of others who shared with me their own.”

How does it relate to this year’s theme, Changes?
“Having children is a profound time of change in a person’s life. Your body has changed, your hormones are wreaking havoc, and every moment of every day after the birth scarcely resembles the days that came before.”


Brooklyn Alice Lee: Playwright – The A Word

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Brooklyn Alice Lee in IWW Cabaret 2019

Brooklyn Alice Lee is the playwright of the piece The A Word in this year’s cabaret line-up. Brooklyn describes herself as an emotional open-book. She wrote her monologue based on personal experience. The A Word follows a young woman as she enters a hospital to terminate her pregnancy, but finds the decision is a hard one to make.

“I was feeling a lot of trauma and sadness following my abortion and I needed an outlet to share my thoughts and feelings, so I turned to theatre,” shares Brooklyn on creating the piece.

How does it relate to this year’s theme, Changes?
“Along with the changes that happen on your body and in your mind when you become pregnant, society is also changing when it comes to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. What is socially acceptable to talk about and what is not. Abortion has always been a very taboo topic, but society is working towards being more understanding and supportive of pro-choice.”


Kristen+Einarson+headshotKristen Einarson: Stand-up Comic – Oversharer

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Kristen Einarson is a local stand-up comic who will be bringing her routine to this year’s cabaret. Kristen describes this past year as a “hot mess” and uses the year’s experiences and lessons in her comedy routine.

“I decided to start talking about it into a microphone and if even one human in the audience relates to me, I have done my job. My favourite thing about stand-up comedy is the vulnerability, and people don’t realize that theatre and stand-up interlope in that way” says Kristen on creating the piece for International Women’s Week.

How does your piece relate to the theme of Changes?
“It’s about big, scary life shifts and how it feels when they all happen at once. We have all been through periods of change – whether it be a career change, a relationship change, moving houses, changing hobbies… it’s just not often they all happen at once.”


Larissa Hikel: Playwright – Ping elevator_746x419

Larissa Hikel expresses herself as relentless, observant and ruthless, but promises you won’t notice so long as you’re having fun. Larissa’s piece Ping contains subject matter that every woman can relate to. The lead character is afraid to enter her own apartment building as it is the setting of a previous attack she faced, by a strange man. Larissa thanks “outrage” for the inspiration of this piece, as she draws from a real life experience.

How does your piece relate to the theme of Changes?
“Almost every woman has the person she was/is ‘before’ and ‘after’ the first experience of a sexual assault or the threat of one. Suddenly the world is a different place. Both the outside world and the one inside each of us.”


See these monologues and MORE during International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues 2020! Running March 2-8 with two public performances at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (at the University of Winnipeg) on March 7th. Tickets on sale HERE.

Stay tuned for more on the other monologues and performers in this year’s cabaret.


 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

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Hailley Rhoda performing “Talking About ED” IWW 2019

Change. Like it or not, it’s happening everyday, all around us. The world is ever evolving and changing, whether it be for better or worse and we evolve along with it. International Women’s Week: Cabaret of Monologues is now officially in progress and we are excited to announce that this year’s theme is… Changes! Emotions, thoughts, opinions, body, politics, technology – it all plays a part in our changing lives and what better way to express these changes, than through theatre.

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Renee Hill performing “Oracle Jane” IWW 2019

This year’s selected monologues will explore how we navigate a changing world . Four monologues have officially been accepted into this year’s cabaret, while others are in the process of being curated and workshopped. The selected monologues feature four different women in four very different situations of change. Until we have a full menu of monologues for you to devour, here are the official first four to whet your appetite…


Masks by Makrenna Sterdan

Ms. Jones works to keep positive as she teaches a school of children about air pollution. But, when she is alone with fellow teachers and staff, the dark truth about the day’s lesson is revealed.


Yearning-Distance by Beth Lanigan

A new mother struggles to describe her changing world and herself. She simultaneously experiences and explores the detachment and dissociation of her postpartum depression.


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waNda wilsoN performing “Bare Bones” IWW 2019


The A Word by Brooklyn Alice Lee

A young woman enters The Women’s Hospital, alone and afraid she struggles to complete paperwork while questioning the nurse and herself about her decision to terminate her pregnancy.


Ping by Larissa Hikel

Jessamyn returns home from a late shift at the bar she works at. She is cautious entering her apartment building as she recounts the terrifying events from the night before. Events that women today know are far too common.


International Women’s Week: Cabaret of Monologues will take place from March 2-8, 2020. We will once again tour the monologues to various locations around Manitoba and

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Shereen Ramprashad performing “I Am Not a Victim” IWW 2019

offer two public performances at the end of the tour. Last year we were excited to travel as far as Flin Flon and to perform in tiny classrooms as well as huge museums. If you’re interested in hosting any of this year’s monologues, give us a call at (204) 586-2236 or email us at info@sarasvati.ca!

Stay tuned for updates and more information on International Women’s Week: Cabaret of Monologues 2020, coming soon!

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Performers from IWW 2019

The Count Down to FemFest 2019

The count down to FemFest is on and we want to share some tips and tricks on how to prepare for the festival! In this blog, we will cover everything that is FemFest2019, from performances and tickets to venue and parking. We want to make sure that FemFest 2019 is a fun, informative, moving and safe experience for all performers and attendees.

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DON’T BE DISAPPOINTED!
First thing’s first, productions. Have you taken a visit to our website yet and scheduled which performances you plan on attending? We understand that you’re busy, this is why we offer a variety of matinee and evening performances both on weekdays and weekends throughout the FemFest week. It’s important to take a look at the SCHEDULE in advance, so you can plan accordingly and make sure you can attend the performances that interest you most! Purchase or reserve your tickets in advance to ensure the time you have selected will not sell out. A spotlight production on booking in advance is 4inXchange. An interactive performance that allows only 4 audience members per performance, so booking in advance is crucial! You can find more information on 4inXchange, HERE.

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GETTING THERE
Another topic we want to discuss is transportation. Luckily, there are plenty of bus routes surrounding the University of Winnipeg’s Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. If you’re a driver, parking Downtown can be stressful. Street parking is offered for $2.50 an hour, or free after 5:30PM on weekdays, on Saturdays you are given two complimentary hours and Sundays are completely free! If you would prefer to park your car in a lot, the University has plenty of parking lots surrounding and within walking distance. You can find a map to these parking lots on our website, HERE.

ACCESSIBILITY
Did you know that FemFest also offers ASL Interpretation for most of our shows? Baby Box, The Launchpad, Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia and Like Mother, Like Daughter each offer one ASL Interpreted performance per show! The dates of these shows are as follows:

Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia: September 15th 2:00pm
Launchpad
: September 17th 8:30pm
Baby Box: September 18th 8:30pm
Like Mother, Like Daughter: September 19th 6:30pm

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
Join the cast of Baby Box following their performance on September 20th for a live discussion on the themes of the play. Share your own thoughts, opinions and interpretations. As well, a special panel talk-back will be offered following the Raising Stanley/Life with Tulia performance on September 15th, with community members working in the community to make the world a little more accessible for all.

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INCLUSIVE
Our main venue, The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film, is accessible with gender-neutral restrooms. We want to make sure that anyone and everyone can enjoy the festival in a safe and welcoming environment!

Click HERE for an informative video covering all things FemFest and Downtown Winnipeg!

For updates on Sarasvàti and FemFest, be sure to check out our website HERE and follow our social media accounts on TWITTER, FACEBOOK and on Instagram at @sarasvati_wpg. See you in 9 days!

Launch in T-Minus 17 Days

The date is September 19th, 2019. Allergies are at a record high. In what is claimed to be an anti-allergy program, the government begins restricting access to EpiPens. In doing so, it exposes an entirely new species to the world’s stage.

This synopsis covers the production of To Kill a Lizard, a one-of-a-kind piece of theatre created by some of Winnipeg’s up-and-coming actors, directors and writers. This hour long devised production was created from scratch by our amazing Launchpad team; the new generation of Winnipeg theatre! The production is the result of intensive workshops, mentorships with professional artists, and collaboration amongst a selected group representing the future of FemFest.


Here is a little bit about The Launchpad. First up the Coordinators/Facilitators and Stage Managers of the team …

Victoria Emilie Hill (Coordinator/Facilitator)

Victoria Emilie Hill is a creator, mover, and actor based in Winnipeg. She is passionate about work that focuses on movement and the body as a place we hold and tell stories. She is curious about the myriad ways we express and communicate with ourselves, our environments, and other creatures. Victoria is also a founding member of The Patriarchy, a two-woman acapella band that sings songs and tells stories that challenge the status quo through a comedic and playful lens. Victoria is an avid student of life, and loves adventures in new things which have included roller derby, making jewelry, sky diving, knitting, white water rafting, and trying to keep her plants alive. She enjoys collaborating with new artists, and is so very honoured to be a part of the Launchpad Project with this amazing team of humans.

Lindsay Johnson (Coordinator/Facilitator)

Lindsay Johnson is a Winnipeg-based actor, director, writer, and animal-lover. With a love of both devised and classical theatre, Lindsay has enjoyed working as a Director/Assistant Director on several projects including Purge (Geritheatrics), Little Dead Lady (Naked Theatre Productions), Home 2.0. (Sarasvati Productions) Richard III (Shakespeare in the Ruins), and Vinegar Tom (University of Winnipeg). Some of Lindsay’s acting credits include Palm House (+friendsprojects), Channel Zero: Dream Door and No End House (Universal Cable Productions), A Christmas Carol (Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre), Passion (Red Hen Collective), Shattered (Sarasvati Productions), The Time In-Between, The Writing on the Stall (Fill The (W)hole Theatre), Quickies with Chekhov (This Reality Theatre Co.).

Ridge Romanishen (Stage Manager)

Ridge is thrilled to be working with Sarasvàti Productions on Launchpad for FemFest 2019. As a previous audience member of past FemFest shows, Ridge is excited to be a part of the ground-breaking work the festival puts on. His previous credits include Time and the Conways (U of W, Assistant Stage Manager), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Arcadia (U of W, Stage Manager). Most recently he worked on Kiss of the Spider Woman (Dry Cold Productions, Apprentice Stage Manager) and Growing Op (Winnipeg Fringe 2019, Stage Manager). A big thanks to Sarasvàti Productions for this opportunity!

Bennette Villones (Assistant Stage Manager) 

Bennette Villones is currently studying theatre and film at The University of Winnipeg. She has worked with Sarasvati Productions in the past before on a high school touring show, Home 2.0 as the understudy. Now she has an opportunity to be an assistant stage manager for The Launchpad project. Recently, she was also part of Twelfth Night, a Shakespearean play with Indifferently Reformed for Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival 2019. She found it a fun and challenging experience and she hopes to use theatre as a way to inspire, tell stories and spread awareness


Now, The Launchpad Team…

Karam Daoud (Performer/Creator)

Karam Daoud is a Moroccan-Canadian actress who moved from Morocco to Canada over Karam Daoud - Headshot6 years ago. She has played numerous roles, from army generals to teenage stalkers. More recently, she was a part of her first feature film in 2019 coming out soon to Canadian festivals. Fluent in English, French and Arabic, she loves to sing and she spends her free time painting, reading, writing or playing the violin or the piano. Karam has always been a fervent theatre lover, and has been a part of multiple productions in Winnipeg. She also happens to be a big fan of World of Warcraft when she is not filling her spare time with her mechanical engineering job.

Anika Dowsett (Performer/Creator)

Anika Dowsett is a queer theatre artist and drag performer located in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  In face she goes by Petty Davis and performs a neurotic and hyper-idealized house wife femininity.  They’ve studied playwriting, theatre, and film at the University of Winnipeg but their heart will always be at Manitoba Theatre for Young People where they took their first classes.  From Club 200 to the Asper Theatre Centre to the Local library where she always has at least two holds, Anika Dowsett is committed to making the world a queerer and artier place.

Sarah Flynn (Performer/Creator)

SARAH FLYNN - HeadshotSarah Flynn recently finished her BaH in performance with a specialization in Devised Theatre and a minor in Classics at the University of Winnipeg. She toured the Interlake with TPM’s Interlake Chautauqua, studies Clown on Manitoulin Island and with the Village Conservatory for Music Theatre. Sarah co-founded Naked Theatre Productions in 2014 and has produced and performed in 7 shows since then. Sarah enjoys breathing fresh forest air, lighting things on fire and playing with her food.
Recent credits: Pippin (ViC/WST), Little Dead Lady (NTP), Mary’s Wedding (TPM), Luna’s Suitcase (WPG Fringe)

Sara Groleau (Performer/Creator)

Sara Groleau is a 28-year old Winnipeg actor and proud to be a part of Sarasvàti Productions’ Launchpad Project! Her first theatrical role was in a play produced by The Manitoba Association of Playwrights in 2018. Since 2018, she has been in several short films. In May 2019, she appeared as Daisy in Student Body produced by Beau Theatre Co.; she also appeared as June in Farrago, produced by Dark Horse Theatre, during the 2019 Winnipeg Fringe Festival and Gimli Summer Theatre Festival. Sara is looking forward to FemFest 2019!

A.J. Hotomani (Performer/Creator)

I always had an interest in the arts but, it was during my high school years, when I fell in love with film. I took every course related to it, and that included the theatre technician courses. After high school, I applied to the University of Winnipeg with an interest in pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Filmmaking, and this is how I was introduced to Theatre Performance. I took an intro course in my first year and was gifted the opportunity to work with Sarasvàti Productions. Now here I am, entering my second year of University exploring a newly found interest, in acting.

Jonathan Mourant (Performer/Creator)

Jonathan Mourant is a non-binary, multidisciplinary artist and also a robot learning how to be human. They first began improvising at 14, travelling across Canada to perform in festivals and train with professionals from Edmonton, Seattle, Vancouver and more. As an independent performer and producer, Jonathan has worked with local companies Common Crow Improv, Family Dinner, and Unexpected Results, which they formed in 2015. They are also an emerging playwright, and this year produced their play Here Together at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Jonathan is thrilled to be a part of this incredible team of emerging artists!

Andi Lea (Leaf) Pankratz (Performer/Creator) Headshot

Andi Lea (Leaf) Pankratz is an emerging non binary performer and creator currently training in aerial arts with the eventual goal of running away with the circus. They are entering into their second year of theatre at the University of Winnipeg. They took this past year to complete their Deaf Studies Certificate with the goal of participating in and contributing to theatre accessible to the Deaf community. They started performing at the age of eight, being lucky enough to have parents who enabled them, and never stopped.

Makrenna Rose Sterdan (Performer/Creator)

Makrenna Rose Sterdan is a director and playwright born and raised in Winnipeg, MB. After graduating from the University of Winnipeg’s Theatre and Film department in 2014, she moved to South Korea to teach kindergarten and work on the expat theatre scene. She has directed plays and films in Canada and South Korea, and runs the theatre/film production company Red Lips Productions. She has participated previously with Sarasvàti Productions as a playwright, writing Doing It for the Fame and Who’s Driving? for the 2016 and 2019 International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues.

Emma Welham HeadshotEmma Welham (Performer/Creator)

Emma is an emerging artist who is about to enter her final year in the University of Winnipeg’s Honours Acting Program. Since beginning her journey in theatre she has been lucky to be a part of many amazing shows, most notably House at Pooh Corner with MTYP and School of Rock the Musical with Winnipeg Studio Theatre. Emma is also a member of La Troupe Jeunesse; a French Canadian Gigue group that performs locally and international at various festival and events. She is very excited to be a part of this project and to be working with so many wonderful people!


The Launchpad Project will be presenting their work as part of FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage, with 3 shows. Sunday, September 15th at 4:00PM, Tuesday, September 17th at 8:30PM and Wednesday, September 18th at 6:30PM. Support local emerging artists by purchasing your tickets for the show, HERE!

Three Ladies, One Baby

For three nights only, the world premiere of Baby Box is coming to FemFest 2019: All the World’s a Stage! If you missed the last blog on Baby Box, you can find it HERE. As we begin the rehearsal process, we are happy to introduce you to our amazing cast! We asked the cast of Baby Box to tell us a bit about themselves as well as share their answers to the question, “What was your favourite activity as a child?”


Playing Woman #1, the birth mother, is Victoria Hill.

Victoria Hill_Headshot-page-001Victoria Emilie Hill is a creator, mover, and actor based in Winnipeg.  She is passionate about work that focuses on movement and the body as a place we hold and tell stories.  She is curious about the myriad ways we express and communicate with ourselves, our environments, and other creatures.  Victoria is also a founding member of The Patriarchy, a two-woman a capella band that sings songs and tells stories that challenge the status quo through a comedic and playful lens. (Spoiler Alert: They will be hosting the FemFest Opening Cabaret) Victoria is an avid student of life, and loves adventures in new things which have included roller derby, making jewellery, sky diving, knitting, white water rafting, and trying to keep her plants alive. Baby Box is such a beautiful project, and she can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Victoria’s favourite activity as a child was climbing trees.


Playing Woman #2, the nurse, is Natasha Torres-Garner.

Torres-Garner started her performance career in contemporary dance in 2002. She has performed with Montreal’s Fortier Danse Création, Bill Coleman, in repertoire by the late IMG_5064webJean-Pierre Perreault, as well as Toronto’s Marie-Josée Chartier. Natasha’s long dedication to the independent community in Winnipeg has meant working with Winnipeg’s Tom Stroud, Out of Line Theatre, TRIP Dance Company, Treasure Waddell, Alison Robson, Johanna Riley, Alex Elliott, Ali Robson, Leigh Anne Parry, Danielle Sturk, Ming Hon, Mia Van Leeuwen, and under the direction of Arne MacPherson. As a choreographer Natasha Torres-Garner has presented solo and group works locally and internationally, including Winnipeg, Regina, London(UK), Toronto, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Dresden, Germany.

Natasha, enjoyed the calligraphy club as a child.


Playing Woman #3, the adoptive mother, is Saira Rahman.

Headshot-SAIRA RAHMANSaira Rahman grew up in Winnipeg, and was a teacher and principal before pursuing filmmaking. In 2003, she wrote a 3-part documentary series about Muslim Canadians called “A New Life in a New Land” (Milo Productions), which aired nationally. After completing the Digital Film Production program at Langara College in Vancouver, Saira and her sister, Nilufer, established Snow Angel Films in 2010, producing their first feature documentary, “Arctic Mosque” (CBC, APTN) and most recently, “Prairie Mosque”(BellMTS), a story about the first mosque established in Winnipeg in 1976. Saira is also an emerging actor having performed in The Game (Sarasvati Productions), Murder By Poe (PTE Adult Company), and Boundary Avenue (One Trunk Theatre). She is very excited to be a part of FemFest again this year and Baby Box!

Saira’s favourite activity as a child was to play house with her sister, but their own version where they were single moms.


Victoria, Natasha and Saira have already begun rehearsals for the world premiere next month along with Director, Hope McIntyre, Choreographer, Ali Robson, and Musical Director, Rachel Cameron. Through the use of unique narrative, movement and song, the Baby Box cast is sure to give a moving performance.

For ticket information and more, be sure to give us a visit HERE on our website!

Baking With Grief

How do you grieve and move on after losing someone? It is a challenge for anyone, but even more so for Katherine, especially now that death has moved in as her roommate.

The Grief Box by Alissa Watson won last year’s Bake-Off writing competition; during FemFest 2018. This year, a reading of The Grief Box is part of our FemFest 2019 roster! We asked Watson to share a little bit about the inspiration behind her play…

“Writing The Grief Box has been a weird and wonderful process. The inspiration for the piece came from the sudden death of my mom in the fall of 2017. I have found life convoluted and bizarre in the wake of her passing and it has been my experience that many people struggle to support those who are dealing with loss, even if they are sharing the same experience. In creating this piece, it is important to me to create a community experience; a safe space where the audience can laugh, cry or get angry with or at death. I would love to have everyone leave feeling that they have a slightly better relationship with death; however bizarre it might be.

The piece has evolved extensively since The Switch, that won the Bake-Off last fall. Much to my disappointment, that scene is no longer in this draft of the play. Audiences who are familiar with the scene can consider it a prologue to the reading of The Grief Box they will see this fall. However, the same loveable cast of characters are along for the ride, including death itself.”- Alissa Watson

Alissa Watson Grief BoxIn addition to acquiring her Bachelor of Music and Education from Brandon University, Alissa has trained in theatre throughout Canada, England and is an alumna of the Professional Training Ensemble at Prairie Theatre Exchange.  She is the co-founder of The Red Nose Diaries (Maple & Sticky’s Amazing Olympic Race, The Polka Dots of Death: The Making of a Supervillain) and is a proud founding member of Winnipeg’s only all-female Bouffon Ensemble, The Talentless Lumps. Selected acting credits include Sense & Sensibility, Harvey (RMTC); Torn Through Time (MTYP); Mission: Munschpossible, Small Things, Magical Mystery Munsch (PTE); and Stripped Down Midsummer Night’s Dream (SIR). Alissa is a member of PTE’s Emerging Playwright’s Unit and is currently adapting the beloved Munsch classic, The Paper Bag Princess for young audiences this winter. In addition, Alissa is a vocalist and percussionist for the sweet and cheeky, Fu Fu Chi Chi Choir.

The reading of The Grief Box will be held Saturday, September 14th at 2:00PM at The Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Admission is Pay What You Can and you can book tickets HERE on our website.  You can also check out this year’s edition of the Bake-Off on September 16th at 6:30pm to vote for a script you would like to see developed for 2020.

Stay tuned for more on what to look forward to during FemFest 2019!

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