Talking Comedy with Kate Schellenberg

Kate Schellenberg - Headshot (2)So far this year Kate Schellenberg has performed at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Oddblock Comedy Festival and Rumor’s Comedy Club. After being a stand-out in the Rumor’s Roast Battle, Kate began producing and hosting her own Roast Off at Wee Johnny’s. She was recently named one of CBC Manitoba’s Future 40 young change-makers. We are so glad to have this unstoppable force of comedy in our Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser on November 15th.

Why do you do stand-up comedy?

KS: Because telling jokes to my house plants stopped being fulfilling after a while and my parents started screening my calls. Honestly, I think it is a special gift when you can make people laugh and bring them joy. There is a special connection you make with people when you make them laugh and I love the feeling I get when I do.

What drives you to talk about the things you talk about on stage?

KS: I mostly talk about dating, my mom and the embarrassing things that happen to me on a daily basis. I talk about these things on stage because I think so many people take themselves too seriously and are afraid to be vulnerable (myself included!) I love challenging myself to laugh about a really bad date or feeling too hairy. I think it opens up other people to talk more about these things in real life.

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Kate hosting the Wee Johnny’s Roast Off

What are you looking forward to about the women’s comedy night fundraiser?

KS: Probably the jello shots that I will bring and invite the other comedians to take with me! Any show that features a lot of female comedians always has an amazing energy and vibe that the comedians feel but the crowd also picks up on, it makes the night more enjoyable for everyone!  Secondly, it’s great to help support organizations that are actively working for good change in the performing arts world.

What would you say to someone who has never been to a Winnipeg comedy show?

KS: Comedy fans, if you have never been to a show that features all female and female-identifying comedians, do yourself a favor, come! Every comic on this show is a real heavy-hitter and will be bringing their a-game (is that enough sports metaphors for you?) Come see these comedians do their best stuff and support a great cause!

Our second annual Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser is at the King’s Head Pub and tickets are just $15! The early show at 7pm is just about SOLD OUT and the 9:30pm racier show is starting to fill up as well. Get those tickets!

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Talking Comedy with Danielle Kayahara

The Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser brings you eight hilarious comedians with eight diverse comedic styles. Danielle Kayahara did her first ever open mic this past May. Her unique blend of honest observation and storytelling made her an instant favourite among crowds and comedians alike. Since then, Danielle has been lighting up stages all over Winnipeg, including being featured in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Comedy All Year: Winnipeg Women.  This week, we talked comedy with the undeniably funny Danielle Kayahara.

What drives you to talk about the things you talk about on stage?

Danielle Kayahara - HeadshotDK: I think too much and I worry too much, I’m not sure I could keep that off of the stage if I tried. I like finding silliness in everyday experiences because it takes some of the seriousness out of the world. Sometimes it means over analyzing etiquette, other times it’s pointing out flaws in technology, sometimes it means anthropomorphizing my cat, and other times it’s confessing that I had to Google “anthropomorphizing” to make sure I knew what it meant and could spell it properly. I’m drawn toward the idea that we’re all more alike than we realize, and as strange or exaggerated as a joke might be, I like to think there’s still something relatable at its core.

Why stand up comedy?

DK: That’s a question I ask myself all the time! It’s terrifying and anxiety-inducing but for some reason, I keep coming back. There’s something magical about bringing people together in a moment of laughter and shared understanding. As a fan of comedy, I’ve always loved those moments and now I do what I can to try and create them.

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Danielle Kayahara on stage at Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s Comedy All Year: Winnipeg Women

What are you looking forward to about the Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser?

DK: I’m looking forward to having a chance to perform alongside some amazingly talented comedians and all for a great cause. I’ve been lucky enough to find my voice through comedy, Sarasvàti Productions helps give a voice to meaningful stories which might otherwise go unheard.

What would you say to someone who has NEVER been to a Winnipeg comedy show?

DK: To those who have never been to a Winnipeg comedy show, I was like you once. I didn’t even know that Winnipeg had comedy shows. I didn’t know that I could spend an evening watching a show and giggling uncontrollably in a fantastic pub environment. Now, I regret that I was kept in the dark for so long! To those who are fans of comedy, I feel as though there isn’t much to say. I know that as a fan, if I didn’t have the honor of performing at this show, I’d already have my ticket. Either way, come check out this show, support an awesome cause, bring your friends, enjoy some drinks and laugh all of the laughs.

The Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser sold out last year. Get your tickets in advance!
Womens Comedy Night Fundraiser 2017

Women’s Comedy Night: The Sequel!

Our Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser was so popular in 2016 that we decided to bring it back for another year! Some of Winnipeg’s funniest women take to the stage November 15th at the King’s Head Pub (120 King St).  Returning as host is fabulous comedian Dana Smith.

The night will feature a diverse line-up of local comedians at different levels of experience, from seasoned pros to emerging newcomers. Check them out!

Dana Smith.JPGDana Smith runs the very successful Women’s Open Mic Comedy show at Wee Johnny’s Irish Pub, which has been regularly featured in CBC’s Top 5 Things to Do in Winnipeg. It has also sparked a vibrant community of women who do stand-up comedy in Winnipeg. She has been featured in JFL Northwest (Vancouver), Oddblock Comedy Festival, and the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.

 

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Anjali Sandhu is a Winnipeg-based comedian, actor and writer. She performed stand-up at the SheDot Comedy Festival in Toronto as well as Sirius XM’s Next Top Comic and The Park Theatre’s Empow(her)ment. Anjali is currently working on her first solo stand-up show, I’m Not Taylor Swift.

 

 

Carole Cunningham headshot.jpgCarole Cunningham has been performing since 2015 and is a regular at Women’s Open Mic. Carole has performed in the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and has produced several shows, including Token 2016. A regular host at Crickets Comedy Club, Carole’s dry and observational humour addresses marriage, children, and navigating life as a woman over thirty-five.

 

danielle-kayahara-headshot.jpgDanielle Kayahara is a benevolent cat owner and relative newcomer to the Winnipeg comedy scene. Fuelled by equal parts anxiety and caffeine, she remains convinced that the former has nothing to do with the latte. Danielle is extremely excited to have the opportunity to bring her unique blend of storytelling and silliness to the stage in support of a worthy cause.

 

Florence SpenceFlorence Spence is a stand-up comedian from York Factory Cree Nation. Raised in both Winnipeg and the reserve, she has been able to translate the hardships of growing up with seven brothers, being a single parent of three and now a grandmother, into comedy gold. Her witty observations and captivating stage presence set Florence Spence up to be your next favorite comedian.

 

Heather Witherden - Headshot.jpgHeather Witherden is also known as “Winnipeg’s Favourite Wisecracking Mom”. From the north end of Main Street, Heather got married, had three kids, and started writing jokes in the baby book to amuse herself. She finally got onstage with her jokes in 2006 and had since appeared at Rumors Comedy Club, The Winnipeg Comedy Festival, CBC Radio’s Definitely Not the Opera, and So You Think You’re Funny.

 

Kate Schellenberg - Headshot (2).JPGKate Schellenberg is originally from the East Coast. She got tired of the mild winters, cheap lobster, and being near the ocean, so she packed her bags and headed to Manitoba. So far this year, she has appeared at the Winnipeg Comedy Festival, Oddblock Comedy Festival, and Rumors Comedy club where her honest and self-deprecating style made her a favorite with local crowds.

 

Lara Rae headshot.jpgLara Rae is a thirty-year veteran of stand-up. She is the A.D of the Winnipeg Comedy Festival and was the first trans woman to host the CBC national program, The Current. She lives in West Broadway with her two rats, Frida and Nina, named after two awesome role models.

 

 

2016 showed us that one show simply wasn’t enough, so we decided to double your chances of seeing some hilarious comedy! This year we’ll have an early show (doors at 5:30, show at 7PM) and a racier late-night performance (doors at 9, show at 9:30PM). Tickets are just $15 and available here. Get them before they’re gone and support a great cause!

Summer Students make Strides at Sarasvàti

A world premiere, general auditions, FemFest brochure launch, outreach, a fundraising dinner, Timeraiser display, garage sale – how have we managed all of this in the last month? We’ve been very fortunate to welcome two hard-working summer students to team Sarasvàti thanks to Canada Summer Jobs. They’ve pitched in on so many important tasks and now they’re working on our 2017-18 Season Launch. Tamera and Larysa bring dedication and fresh ideas to the table and we are so pleased to hear from them in this week’s blog entry.

“I am proud to be at Sarasvàti Productions and to work in a community with a strong social conscience”, says Tamera, who began working as our Production Assistant in May.

TameraGrace-grown-FemFest17“So far my highlight of the summer was when I was backstage during Breaking Through. The cast and crew were all magnificent, as well as the story. It was very life-giving to support them through a smooth run of the show, as well as making sure everyone was comfortable and ready.

Aside from being able to work on their spring production, I have been spending most of my time in the office. This is my first time working in an office; it has been a good opportunity to improve my professional skills.”

Tamera is working on completing her double degree in Theatre and Business at the U of W.

“My original plan was to focus on acting, but I will be graduating with a focus in acting as well as production and business. For me, working with Sarasvàti has really clarified my desire to work in the not-for-profit sector. I want to continue finding opportunities to support those in the community.”

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Tamera Grace at TimeRaiser150 with Hope McIntyre looking for great new Sarasvàti volunteers.

“One of the great things about Sarasvati Productions is the opportunity it creates for discussion and understanding”, says Larysa, our Marketing & Community Outreach Assistant.

“Getting over fifty people to sit in one room, eat Ethiopian food, smell Ethiopian coffee beans, and listen to a difficult true story about becoming a refugee is no easy thing to organize. But, I think, this type of event is necessary for building healthy and strong communities. Like me, the people who listened to Saeed’s story may walk away feeling more empathy than they felt before. And that is no small achievement.”

IMG_4303Larysa is a Creative Communications student at Red River College and the director of Winnipeg Poetry Slam. She talks about her favourite experience while working with Sarasvàti—working at the Honouring Courage – Celebrating Diversity fundraiser dinner with human rights activist and speaker, Ali Saeed.

“We’re used to thinking of revenge as a bad thing. We think of threat, torture, and war. Ali Saeed calls this ‘red revenge’. But Saeed says there is one other type of revenge just as compelling: kindness, compassion and generosity. His word for this is ‘green revenge.’

Seven years Saeed spent imprisoned and sentenced to death in Somalia. Now he’s speaking to a roomful of people here at Gohe Restaurant for Sarasvàti Productions’ fundraiser. The entire room is quiet. The people I’m sitting with grimace and look downward.

Saeed talks about the cruelty he witnessed: forced abortion, lashings, hanging, cutting. Listening to Saeed, I am reminded of the safety I have here in Canada, a true luxury.

On his feet, Saeed wears loose Velcro sandals. He points to the burn marks on his heels, marks from the hardship he endured. Sandals are one of the few shoes he’ll wear because of the pain. Barefoot is preferable.

‘No one chooses to be a refugee,’ Saeed says.”

Larysa says working for Sarasvàti Productions has opened her mind to experiences outside of her own, which has been an invaluable experience.

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Larysa Musick at Honouring Courage – Celebrating Diversity Fundraiser Dinner for Sarasvàti Productions at Gohe Restaurant.

You can see some of their awesome ideas in action at the 2017-18 Season Launch, Friday August 4th 7pm at the Saddlery on Market (114 Market Ave).

Theatre that Transforms Us – 2016/17 Season Retrospective

Cotton candy cocktails, ghosts, riots, vans stuck in the snow, standing ovations, tears and a lot of laughter. It really is hard to believe that another season has gone by – our 17th one in Winnipeg to be exact! Just over a year ago, we launched a season themed on Transformation and it truly was life-changing.

Breaking Through
“They were commenting on how they thought they were the only ones feeling a certain way until seeing this play and being able to realize that they are not alone.” – Loveeza Arshad, Friends Housing

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The cast of Breaking Through takes a bow

Thanks to your support we enjoyed an incredibly successful run of the culmination of our Mental Health project. We hope the dialogue will continue outside the theatre for some time to come. We’ll keep you posted as we work towards publishing the play!

 

IWW 2017 Starting Over
“Engaging and inspiring, these powerful performances rooted in real experiences provided brilliant insight. In our case, the complex realities of both youthful and mature immigrant women were are the forefront. Exploring these themes is so vital, with increased cultural diversity and amid global striving for women’s rights. Women of all nations and cultures can relate to themes of place, space, marginalization, hope, potential…”– Pamela Hadder, Agape House-Eastman Crisis Centre

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A packed house at IWW2017: Starting Over

This year, we worked closely with newcomer women and girls and the results were some incredible pieces.  We were proud to provide a platform for women’s stories, to promote equity on Canadian stages and to provide access to the arts. 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.

One Night Stand Series
“Amazing job, everyone! And for those involved in [my piece], thank you so much for helping me bring that world to life… Truly an inspirational night!” –  Marjorie Roden, featured playwright

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One Night Stand Fringe Frenzy! at Carol Shields Festival of new Works

With the help of producer Tatiana Carnevale and Prairie Theatre Exchange we re-launched the One Night Stand playreading Series. The Series gives playwrights the opportunity to test their work, while giving audiences a chance to take part in their development process.  Look out for the launch of One Night Stand next season at closing night of FemFest! We will be featuring readings from Judith Thompson and our most celebrated local playwrights.

 

Workshops for Emerging Artists
“So much good info!”
“Extremely beneficial”
“It was great! More workshops!” – Feedback from workshop participants

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Our Artistic Director Hope McIntyre facilitates at Auditioning 101

We served 85 emerging artists with our Emerging Artist workshop series this season.
We tackled some of our most-requested workshops this year with Grantwriting & Taxes for Artists, Auditioning 101 and Mock Auditions for Advanced Actors.  We thank our partners Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council, ACI Manitoba, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Theatre Projects Manitoba and Winnipeg Jewish Theatre for helping us support education opportunities for emerging artists. Plans for the 2017/18 Emerging Artists Workshop Series are already underway! Drop us a line if there is a workshop you’d like to see.

North End Workshop Series
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to study theatre but now I’m sure!” – Sabil, youth participant

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Youth facilitator Erica Wilson offers direction as the youth participants work on their scene

We kicked-off 2017 with a focused series of theatre workshops for North End youth. Youth Coordinators Frances Koncan and Cherrel Holder alongside a series of guest artists, introduced theatre techniques and worked on scenes with youth. On February 22nd we celebrated with a showcase of the youth involved. We have already heard from multiple youth that they have decided to pursue theatre and we look forward to supporting them with mentorship in 2017/18.

 

 


Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser

“Congratulations! What a great evening!!” – Brigit Krasovec
“Great turn out! Amazing show.” – Tim Gray

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Actions shots of some of the comedians at the Women’s Comedy Night Fundraiser

We took a leap and tried something brand new with our comedy fundraiser. We teamed up with Winnipeg’s hilarious women comedians to produce the Women’s Comedy Night. The event saw unprecedented success—selling out and packing the venue with an incredible mix of Sarasvàti supporters and comedy fans. We had a blast and you better believe we’ll be doing this again next year.

 

 


Shattered
High School Tour

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The cast of Shattered

“Things aren’t what they seem and we should never assume things about people. I learned a lot and I
could tell my fellow audience members also learned something new. I realized a lot more people in our
school had experience with mental illness than I thought.” -Student at Fort Richmond Collegiate

We broke pervious records by performing to 6,161 youth and educators in Manitoba. Shattered has received overwhelming praise from teachers and students alike. It was also transformative for the cast who were touched by the number of youth who approached them after performances to share their own struggles with mental health.


FemFest2016: Transformation

We were proud to present such provocative touring shows as Miss Understood, Mouthpiece, as well as clown favourites Morro & Jasp Do Puberty. The world premiere of the previous year’s Bake-Off winner Sherry MacDonald’s The Seduction Theory made a huge impact as audiences discussed the ways we continue to victim-blame.

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These are just a few of our highlights. What stood out for you? Save the date for August 4th at 7pm and stay tuned for exciting details about our 2017/18 season launch.

The Power of Story: Sarasvàti presents human rights activist Ali Saeed

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A delicious traditional Ethiopian meal prepared at Gohe Restaurant. Photo by Serge Gumenyuk, The Uniter.

An amazing meal, a powerful story and supporting inspiring theatre – what more could you want in an evening! On Thursday June 15th at 6pm join Sarasvàti Productions for a full course meal of traditional Ethiopian food followed by the powerful story of award-winning human rights activist, Ali Saeed. Fresh from speaking at the 2017 Winnipeg TEDx, Ali joins us to share his transformational experience in support of transformational theatre.

Ali Saeed is a former Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience [i] who was imprisoned on more than one occasion because of his work as a human rights defender in his home country of Ethiopia. He spent a total of seven years in custody and was held in eleven different prisons during his incarceration in Ethiopia and Somalia. He was tortured and subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment during this period.  After being released from imprisonment in Somalia in 1984, Ali Saeed immigrated to Manitoba.

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Ali Saeed

Even though he had survived unimaginable horrors as a direct consequence of his human rights activities in Ethiopia, Ali immediately resumed these efforts in Manitoba by working on behalf of other refugees seeking safety from persecution while placing emphasis on promoting the rights of women.

Since arriving in Manitoba Ali has transformed the lives of many. Ali has worked to sponsor 104 refugees through the Ethiopian Society of Winnipeg by working in collaboration with Hospitality House and the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, traveled to Parliament Hill along with his daughter to present a petition highlighting concerns about women who had been disappeared or were being held as political prisoners in Ethiopia and produced the award winning Memories of a Generation, a feature length documentary on human rights which has reached over 5,000 people in Europe and North America.

Hear Ali Saeed speak at Honouring Courage and Celebrating Diversity on June 15th at Gohe Ethiopian Restaurant. The evening includes a world-class Ethiopian meal, a silent art auctions and more. Tickets are just $45 (tax receipt for $25) and available at our office – call 204-586-2236 or info@sarasvati.ca. All funds raised will support the transformative theatre work of Sarasvàti Productions.

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[i] Prisoners of conscience are individuals who have been imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs or because of their race, gender or other personal characteristics.

Going Above and Beyond in 2017!

Happy New Year! We are excited to announce our goals for 2017! We aim to break new ground and cover uncharted territory in order to realize our vision of transforming society through theatre. Check out what we are setting our sights on this year:

1.PROMOTE DIVERSITY ON THE STAGE

If you think the Equity in Theatre stats on women in the industry have a long way to go, wait until you see the stats on diversity. Promoting diversity in the local theatre scene generates growth, equity and human understanding within the arts community and audiences.  We are proud to produce a season of theatre and workshops that respond to the lack of equity on Canadian stages proactively. January 11th marks the launch of our second round of free theatre workshops for Indigenous and newcomer youth in Winnipeg’s North End.  This March, we highlight the stories of newcomer women throughout International Women’s Week with the 2017 Cabaret of Monologues: Starting Over.

 

2. SUPPORT EMERGING ARTISTS

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Coffee with a Pro

After successfully piloting Coffee with a Pro, an informal mentorship series that sets emerging artists up with an established artist in their field to talk shop over coffee, we look forward to expanding the series into even more disciplines in 2017.

We have received ample requests for an Audition workshop geared to those who have never auditioned before. This Spring, Hope McIntyre will facilitate just that with Auditioning 101. Stay tuned for details.

3. HAVE SOME FUN AND RAISE SOME FUNDS

audience-shotWe’re rolling into uncharted territory with a brand new fundraising event. On April 9th at Academy Lanes some of the most well-known CEO’s and business leaders in Winnipeg will square-off in a Strike-a-Thon with pledges and proceeds going to Sarasvàti Productions.

Plus last year’s Women’s Comedy Night was such a success that we can’t wait for round two in the fall of 2017!

4. BUST BARRIERS

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Staged reading of Breaking Through, May 2016

After over two years of community-based research, workshops, and interviews we are thrilled to present the full production of Breaking Through May 23-38, 2017.

The Mental Health is Everyone’s Health project saw Sarasvàti’s artists team up with Artists in Health Care, Red Threads Playback Theatre and the Selkirk Mental Health Centre as well as multiple community organizations and members of the public to create a play that takes a realistic look the way mental health issues affect us all. The result is a bold theatrical experience that is guaranteed to spark dialogue.

5. CELEBRATE SUCCESSES

FemFest turns 15 this year! We are working on the line-up that will appropriately celebrate our landmark festival of plays by women for everyone! You can look forward to some exciting surprises and special guest artists.

 

That’s our top 5, but when all is said and done we are basically going to produce kick-ass art and we want you to be a part of it!  Stay posted on our events by following us here!