How It All Comes Together

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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

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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.

All the World’s a Stage this International Women’s Week

Hot off the heels of an incredibly successful community tour, our performers are ready to showcase this year’s line up of monologues this Saturday at the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues: Starting Over !  We are proud to provide a platform for women’s stories, to promote equity on Canadian stages and to provide access to the arts.

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We started off by taking the pieces that were created through community group story-sharing back to the groups of women who had helped us to create them. After well-received performances at Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba and Welcome Place, we set off to tour the wider community! Here are the great host groups, all amazing organizations worth checking out:

March 2 – Genesis House – Manitou, Manitoba
Genesis House exists so that people of South Central Manitoba will be free from family and intimate partner abuse achieving results that justify the relative worth. They provide a confidential service, which includes a shelter for abused women and their children, residential and non-residential programs and prevention through public education.

March 6 – UWSA Women Trans-Spectrum Centre
The Women-Trans Spectrum Centre is an accessible and inclusive resource centre for women and trans students on the University of Winnipeg campus. The centre is a great space to hang out, study, and build community.

March 7 – North End Women’s CentreNEWC IWW17 (2)
The North End Women’s Centre is a community based organization that provides women with support, knowledge, and opportunity as they move forward on their journey towards independence and healthier lifestyle.

 

March 7 – Nova House – Selkirk, Manitoba
Nova House is a shelter for abused women and children in the Interlake Region of Manitoba. They provide temporary shelter, counseling, support groups, and referral to community resources for women and their children.

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March 8 – North End Family Centre

The North End Family Centre is a community gathering place that provides a comfortable and safe environment for community members to connect and belong.

March 8 – U of M Womyn’s Centre
RRC IWW17 (1)The Womyn’s Centre provides a feminist voice and safe space for womyn on campus. The members strive to create a place where women are listened to and recognized, and facilitate women as they gather the information they need to make informed decisions in their lives.

March 8 – Rainbow Resource Centre
Rainbow Resource Centre provides support, education, and resources to foster a proud, resilient, and diverse LGBT2SQ+ community.

March 9 – Agape House – Steinbach, Manitoba
The mission of Agape House-Eastman Crisis Centre, Inc. is to empower women and children experiencing family violence by providing safe shelter, information, counseling, and ongoing support.

March 9 – Mount Carmel Clinic
Founded on the belief that everyone has the right to accessible health care, Mount Carmel Clinic goes the extra mile to help clients connect with the services they need—in their homes, workplaces and neighbourhood.

March 9 – St. John’s Library
In addition to offering the services of a public library, St. John’s Library offers an array of free programs and workshops for all ages.

March 10 – St. Aidan’s School, Aberdeen Campus
St. Aidan’s School Aberdeen Campus is a Grade 6-10 school, primarily focused on at-risk kids, and presently serving kids from about ten nations – Cree, Tanzania, Metis, Kaska, Canada, Eritrea, Congo, Ojibway, Ethiopia, Burundi.

March 10 – IIWR-MB
IIWR-MB is an organization open to all individuals, as well as organizations that have an interest in promoting women’s human rights.

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March 12 –The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians
The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians is a progressive Organization with strong and durable roots in the people and history of Canada.

March 19- Manitoba Storytelling Guild
The Manitoba Storytelling Guild supports and promotes the art of oral storytelling throughout Manitoba.

A great big thank you goes out to Manitoba Status of Women and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg. Without them, this Cabaret would not be possible. Special thanks to Neighborhoods Alive! and NERI for supporting our North End performances.

Join us for a performance of the full line-up, and a lobby full of visual art on the theme of ‘Starting Over’ at the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues, March 11, 2017.

 

 

Art Beyond the Stage

The artistic showcase is going beyond the stage at this year’s International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues with the help of our amazing Outreach Coordinator, Audrey Unger! A Masters student at the U of M, Audrey has been working with Sarasvàti Productions since September 2016 as part of her practicum in Peace and Conflict Studies.

“The theatre workshops done with several groups of women in November 2016 were a particular highlight”, said Audrey, who helped to organize these story-gathering workshops at a variety of organizations that serve immigrants and refugees. “Much joy and laughter was shared through interaction with theatre games and new friendships were formed by listening to each other’s stories.” Some of the pieces that will be performed on March 11th were developed directly from these workshops.

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Sarasvàti Outreach Coordinator Audrey Unger

Audrey has also been curating an incredible display of visual art in order to highlight this year’s Cabaret theme of “Starting Over”. The collection is made up of pieces in many mediums that have been created by Winnipeg-based artists including photography from the Eritrean Women’s Association and traditional outfits from Uganda and Iraq. Professional Artist Xavier Mutshipayi, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, will be present with his collection of paintings titled “Awakened Consciousness.”  Artist Briand-Nelson Mutima will also be present with a collection of his paintings. The lobby installation represents different moments from these artists’ experience as newcomers at various stages of life in Canada. “This is an opportunity for artists to showcase and discuss their work with the public audience”, said Audrey. “It has been a joy to connect with these new faces in the community.”

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Professional Artist Xavier Mutshipayi with his collection of paintings titled “Awakened Consciousness.”

There will be interactive opportunities as well! Many of the artists will be there to meet the public and chat about their work. Members of the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute, who were part of our story-gathering workshops, will be set up in the lobby to share info about their call for donations of winter clothing, blankets, toiletries, and furniture to meet the needs of newly arrived refugees. There will be opportunity to purchase items from Sew Fair, a local fair trade company that employs newcomer women.

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Last but not least, check out our photo booth, where you and your friends can take a selfie with your own call to action. We’ll have #beboldforchange arm bands and signs as part of CUPE’s International Women’s Day 2017 campaign.

You can take part in our lobby installation at the Asper Centre for Theatre & Film before and after the performances on March 11th at 4pm and 8pm. Tickets are just $15 and available on-line or at the door. See you there!

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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.

 

What Does Starting Over Mean to You?

Have you ever relocated, tackled a new job, new relationship or even just discovered your true self? This year we explore what is perhaps the most universal topic we have tackled in the International Women’s Week Cabaret of Monologues. Erin Meagan Schwartz asked all of our performers what this year’s theme means to them.

“New adventure! But that was my idea when I was eleven years old and I came to Canada”, says Cherrel Holder, “then doing it when I was 20–moving to Australia for school–starting over was scary.” Check out the promo video for all of our performers responses!

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Kim Kakegamic rehearsing “The Pit” in front of playwright Alissa Watson and Directors Hope McIntyre and Rachel Smith. Photo by Nik Rave.

Alka Kumar shared her story of starting over with Angie St. Mars. The two co-wrote one of the monologue sin this year’s cabaret based on Alka’s experience. “Sharing my story provided me space for reflection, even helping me process my experience in a deliberate and considered manner”, said Alka, including that it is a technique and useful tool within narrative therapy. “I found this useful as it was a good opportunity to go back to my `lived experience’ after the fact, almost separating it out of myself (externalising it, as it were) and through such a process of articulation becoming more aware of it.”
The piece created from their process is called Diaspora. It focuses on an Indian woman, once a newcomer herself, as she welcomes a young newcomer to Winnipeg.

The Cabaret features monologues that take you through ten different stories of pivotal moments in very different women’s lives. From the moment when an Ojibwe activist must choose to apologize or stand by what she believes in, to the moment a young Nigerian woman tells her first generation immigrant parents that she wants to go home: this year’s selections will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

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“I hope the audience [members] who share my experiencing of my everyday dilemmas, struggles, and negotiations with my many homes will get to know me a little”, said Alka. “Even more significantly, I hope the monologue and my voice will resonate, and that it may help in their personal processes and journeys of reflection, and exploration, as ideas and emotions around identity, belonging, and being comfortable being who we are wherever home is are important questions for everyone.”

There are two chances to catch all ten monologues on March 11th at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film. Tickets are available at the door, but we recommend getting them in advance, as this event will sell out.

 

Instant Gratification. Immediate Feedback.

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We are so excited to be re-mounting the One Night Stand Series with the help of Producer, Tatiana Carnevale. Join us at 7pm on February 2nd at the Colin Jackson Studio.
We promise you an evening unlike any other.

Curator note: I am short. So are these plays. 

“I was so pleasantly surprised by the number of submissions we received after circulating our call for the newly relaunched One Night Stand play reading series – the quality of material that individuals sent in, when we didn’t give folks a whole lot of notice to do so, was really and truly impressive! Trying to select just six to program for our first event was a pleasantly unpleasant task, as I got to read a lot of great work and had to make some tough decisions! 

Ultimately, what all the pieces in this first series have in common is that they manage to pack a whole lot of action and character development into 10 minutes or less. These works prove that you don’t need three acts to have a play. (SORRY ARISTOTLE). I hope you’ll join us and take a chance, for one night only, on a hot night with some cool new work!”

-Series Producer, Tatiana Carnevale

Without further ado, would you swipe right on… 

Irony by Sage

Sage is a young upstart in Winnipeg’s comedy scene who has a penchant for making people laugh. He is a newer face in the comedy world and has been frequenting venues across Winnipeg in order to perfect his voice and writing style.

Donation by Craig Russell

Craig Russell’s monologue, The Unintended Consequences of Love was performed at the Carol Shields Festival of New Works. His novel, Black Bottle Man won the American Moonbeam Gold Medal for YA Fantasy and was a finalist for the Canadian Aurora Award for Best English Novel. Another novel, Fragment was recently released by Thistledown Press.

The Aftermath by Trevor Graumann

Trevor Graumann is a Winnipeg writer and musician who has been a regular on the local arts scene for over a decade. A graduate of the University of Winnipeg English program, recent highlights in Trevor’s writing career include a Special Mention in CV2’s annual Young Buck Poetry Award, and a grant from the Manitoba Arts Council in support of a poetic work in progress. When not conversing deep into the night, Trevor prefers to nod off in an internet glow.

Life in a Fishbowl by Marjorie Roden

Marjorie Roden is a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Northern Saskatchewan. She received her education degree at the University of Saskatchewan then a few years later, attended SIAST Woodland Campus where she studied Media Arts Production. Later, she moved to Winnipeg, where she was a member of the New Voices Program at the National Screen Institute. She is currently completing her bachelor of arts degree at the University of Manitoba, where she’s majoring in film studies and minoring in theatre. She also makes independent films, including the sci-fi webseries Preflight Launch, and operates her production company Farmgirl In The City Productions out of her dorm room.

Jump or You’ll Die Laughing: A Tragicomic Short for the Endlessly Heavy Hearted by Kirsty Cameron

Kirsty Cameron is an emerging prairie writer, currently living in Winnipeg. She is working on a PhD in English at the University of Manitoba. Excerpts from her theatrical works-in-progress have been read at past MAP reading series events and her latest fiction short-story, “Sewing Factory, Circa 1880 — 1980,” was published in the Winter 2016 edition of Prairie Fire literary magazine.

Cherries by Per Brask

Per Brask is a Professor in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of Winnipeg.  He has published poetry, short stories, drama, translations, interviews and essays in a wide variety of journals and books. Recent publications include a co-translation with Patrick Friesen of Ulrikka S. Gernes’s poetry collection Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments (shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize, 2016) and a translation of Andreas Simonsen’s The Foundation of Ethics (Fictive Press, 2017).

All plays will be performed by an ensemble cast; Braiden Houle, Adrianna Kollar, Kevin Longfield, Jordan Phillips, Rachel Smith, Cheryl Soluk, and Erica Wilson.
All plays will be Directed by Kim Kakegamic.
The evening will be hosted by Angie St. Mars.

Stay tuned, as we will be offering two more One Night Stand events this season!

 

 

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!